Calls for vital support as pandemic hits hard

  • Equine charities have ramped up their fundraising efforts as Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions continue to take their toll.

    As visitor centres remain closed to the public and many vital fundraisers have been cancelled, charities are continuing to look at alternative methods to raise money.

    Brooke has urged its supporters to pick up their pens and paintbrushes for a new art competition, DonkaDoodle, with the winning entries featuring on gift cards to be sold in the charity’s online shop later in the year.

    Budding artists have until 7 June to submit their work, which must include a horse, donkey or mule and be inspired by an element of Brooke’s work around the world. There are three age categories; under 12, 12-17 and over 18, and entries cost £5. The winners will also receive a £50 voucher for an online art shop, GreatArt, and a Brooke goody bag.

    “As the Covid-19 pandemic reaches the countries Brooke works in, local communities are becoming more dependent than ever on their working animals to maintain their livelihoods and health, which is why donations have never been so important,” said a charity spokesman.

    The Moorland Mousie Trust, which runs the Exmoor Pony Centre, has taken to the charity’s social media channels to hold virtual competitions, tours, a children’s club and an auction after coronavirus forced the centre to close.

    “The income is not there from the centre, fundraising events have had to be cancelled and of course costs are hard to reduce when you’re caring for animals,” said a spokesman. “That said, the charity has worked extremely hard over the past six weeks to move its operations and public engagement online.”

    The charity is encouraging its supporters to get in touch with fundraising ideas.

    “The charity has seen some ingenious ways of championing their cause, from supporters from all over the world. Sponsorship challenges are a great way of getting involved in fundraising, a challenge can be anything from a sponsored silence to running a marathon in your back garden,” said the spokesman.

    “One young boy took to the pavements with his hobby horse to ‘trot’ 2.6km during the 2.6 Challenge in response to the loss of the London Marathon. Four-year-old Jakson raised £470 and took social media by storm, giving many of those in lockdown a welcome distraction.”

    Jakson and his hobby horse

    In a fundraising effort for the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre, a therapeutic riding centre for children in London, supporter Richard Burke has raised £3,000 by completing a half-martathon.

    Richard was inspired to help the charity, despite the fact he has never ridden a horse himself, as its income was “plummeting drastically” during lockdown.

    “The funds will enable the transformational work at the centre to continue. To watch a child’s gradual development when motivated by the interaction with horses, with a beaming smile throughout a riding lesson, is life enhancing,” said a spokesman for the centre.

    Liverpool-based Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary, which helps horses, children and military veterans, has surpassed its £3,000 fundraising target thanks to an appeal from patron Kelly Marks and Intelligent Horseman magazine.

    More than £4,700 has been raised for the sanctuary via a JustGiving page, with those who donated at least £5 being entered into a prize draw to win prizes including a course with Kelly Marks and her team, a day behind the scenes with Gillian Higgins of Horses Inside Out, and a rider confidence course with Daisy Smith.

    There is still time to donate and enter the prize draw, which takes place on 31 May.

    HorseWorld, Bristol, has launched an urgent appeal for funds to help refurbish part of its essential hospital facilities. The charity’s isolation unit, the first port of call for new rescues, needs new rubber matting.

    “During the Covid-19 crisis we find donations have greatly reduced and we’ve lost all the income from our open days. We still however have our horses to care for and seek support to help us cover this essential element of their welfare costs,” said a spokesman.

    “This flooring project is one of our most urgent and we need to raise £5,300 which will make a huge difference to newly admitted horses, ponies and donkeys at a time when their lives hang in the balance. Our hospital facilities mean the difference between life and death.”

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    International working animal charity SPANA has launched an emergency feeding programme in Marrakech, Morocco, to save the city’s carriage horses who are facing starvation during the pandemic. Working with local partners, the SPANA team is delivering lifesaving concentrated feed to almost 600 horses in Marrakech, and the neighbouring town, Aït Ourir.

    “The devastating impact of the coronavirus is far-reaching and, as the economic situation worsens, the survival of countless working animals is now under severe threat,” said SPANA chief executive Geoffrey Dean.

    “In developing countries, working animals – including those used for tourism – are a lifeline for their owners, providing a livelihood for people in many of the world’s poorest communities. In the absence of work however, it is proving impossible for owners to afford basic necessities for their animals. Owners are becoming increasingly desperate about the prospect of losing their animals and the terrible, long-term implications this will have.”

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