A fundraising page has been set up in an attempt to help desperate riding schools survive the next month.
The Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) wants to raise as much as possible, to get yards through to 29 March, when they can give lessons again.
H&H has reported on the struggles faced by riding schools in this third national lockdown, with all the normal winter costs of keeping horses, no income and very little financial support.
ABRS trustee George Baber told H&H it is clear there are a number of riding schools “on the brink of closure”, and that between 10 and 20% of its school members have closed in the past year.
“Some of them don’t need much to get them through to when they can open,” he said.
“We won’t make huge sums but if I can give them a couple of grand each, that might just get them through this last stage.”
Riding schools that are also further education providers will be able to give some lessons from 8 March, but the majority have to wait a further three weeks, until the “rule of six” will apply.
“At the moment, British Equestrian is trying to get instructors and helpers excluded from the six, as otherwise, lessons with children who need leaders can only have two riders, which isn’t economically viable,” Mr Baber said. “I think we can do that in a Covid-secure way.”
Mr Baber urged anyone who can to donate, as every little will help.
“There are some areas now where there’s no riding school provision at all, and that’s a dreadful loss; to the sport, and elite sport in due course.
“And people still want to ride, so we see them buying a pony for the kids, with no one to teach them properly.
‘I’m trying so hard to be positive but I go home at night and think ‘What the hell am I
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“Anything that can be given will help, and we need to do it quickly; we can’t start giving the money out in June as that’ll be too late.”
The ABRS has guidance on its website for riding schools, some of which have been told by local authorities they cannot use indoor schools for lessons when they reopen, despite the fact the Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has previously ruled that covered arenas need not be treated as indoor spaces.
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