Aspiring showjumpers team up to support struggling riding school during lockdown

  • Two aspiring showjumpers have joined forces with their friends to raise money for the riding school where they began their careers in the saddle.

    Jess Bryers, 12, and Ella Bryers, nine, both compete in British Showjumping and have qualified for several national finals, but both had lessons when they were younger with Lucy Johnson at Corner Farm Equestrian near Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

    They have teamed up with their friends Jasmine Wheeler, 13, Lottie Williams, 13, and Lucy Adney, 10, who they know from the north Shropshire branch of the Pony Club, to take part in a sponsored hackathon and help fund the riding school through lockdown.

    “I was reading about some of the London riding schools which are facing being shut down, and saw how people had been donating carrots and shavings and I thought Lucy must be in the same situation — in fact, it must be a struggle for every riding school up and down the country,” said Jess and Ella’s mother Nicola.

    “I set up a Facebook page and messaged a few of my friends and we thought we could do something simple like a sponsored hack to help out.”

    Nicola said that Lucy had thought the idea would be an “amazing” boost, especially as she had been forced to sell two ponies over the summer and had recently had to put a third down because of a problem with its liver.

    “She has vet bills from treating that pony as well as 14 others to take care of,” Nicola said. “Riding schools aren’t in a position where they can furlough all their staff as they still have the animals to look after.”

    Nicola has launched a Just Giving page with a target of £500 but it has already raised £1750 to help support the ponies through the next few months.

    The children plan to hack 10 miles each between 8 and 13 February to meet their 50-mile hackathon target.

    “It’s been great for the children and they are really looking forward to doing it,” Nicola said. “Home-schooling in lockdown can make the days quite dull and monotonous, so it has given them some purpose.

    “We’ll be taking lots of photos as we go to hopefully inspire people to donate.”

    Nicola said that all of the five riders had benefited from lessons with Lucy — including Jess, who had learned to canter on one of the riding school ponies.

    “We had a pony at home but it did have a tendency to buck, so we went to Lucy when Jess was five or six to get her cantering,” Nicola said.

    “It’s nice for the children to be able to help out and not forget their roots now they are out competing. Lucy has helped so many local riders over the years.

    “For many children who don’t have their own ponies, going for a lesson at a riding school is a highlight of their week and it would be such a shame if we end up losing some of them.”

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