From model horses to hobby horses, to horses with the most impressive moustaches – there may be nearly as many online competitions running during the coronavirus lockdown than there would have been shows without it.
Endurance GB is running a model horse marathon on Sunday (26 April) in aid of the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 emergency appeal and in a bid to beat lockdown boredom.
EGB members and non-members are invited to enter model horses, “the wackier the better”, to undergo a series of tests “of the kind riders and crews might expect to encounter at an actual ride”.
Of the £12 entry fee, £5 goes to the charity.
EGB operations director Esther Young, who came up with the idea along with Dave Hull of the Nottinghamshire EGB group, said: “The endurance community is a close-knit one and we have all derived a great deal of support from each other via social media in recent weeks. Several of our members are feeling very isolated and the Model Horse Marathon gives us a chance to bring the sport online and have a bit of fun together.
“By its very nature endurance riding attracts riders with a good sense of humour and adventure as on an actual ride much of the appeal is that you, your horse and your crew are heading off into the unknown. We will be looking to replicate that spirit during the Model Horse Marathon, which is a chance for riders to show their creative and fun sides. Some of the entrants have already been sharing photographs of their pre ‘ride’ preparation, which is brilliant.”
West End Photography has donated a canvas print of a photo of the winner’s choice as a prize.
Area 12 of the Side Saddle Association is running an online show, for which entries close on 30 April, in place of its spring show, which should have run on 26 April . All side-saddle riders are welcome to enter, by sending pictures of themselves, in a range of categories. All profits will go to NHS Charities Together.
The schedule includes classes such as best plaits and best overall turnout, as well as fun classes such as best action shot and best “disaster shot”.
Area 12 secretary Zoe Bateson said: “We have beautiful rosettes and sashes available to our winners and champions, just like they would receive in person.”
Bristol-based equine charity HorseWorld has launched its first virtual show, to “celebrate excellent equines”.
A spokesman said celebrity judges would be considering entries in “a range of silly and sensible categories”, as a way to supplement income lost as a result of cancelled events.
Classes include funniest face and most marvellous moustache, with prizes donated by NAF and EQU StreamZ. Entry is free, but there is a suggested donation of £2.50 per class.
Horseworld director of fundraising and communications Stephen Poole said: “We all need reasons to be cheerful and celebrating our equine friends seems to be a wonderful one.
“In these times when life is particularly challenging, HorseWorld wanted to give supporters an opportunity to champion their favourite equine chums and remember just how lucky we are to have these wonderful animals in our lives.”
Photos submitted do not need to be recent so those unable to see their horses during lockdown can still take part. Entries close at 12pm on 3 May.
The Pony Club is running a national writing competition, “write to ride”, launched by Pippa Ireland, an area three mother.
Entrants can submit poems, stories or essays, on an equestrian theme, with prizes on offer including lessons from top riders, arena hire and yard visits. Entry is free but participants are invited to donate to a charity of their choosing.
Mrs Ireland said: “The competition has evolved from a small seed of an idea into wonderful creation which so many people across the equestrian community, from all walks of different disciplines and areas, have supported willingly and so readily.
“With so many small charities struggling to fundraise it seemed like a really good way for children to potentially win a lovely prize to look forward to and help a good cause of their choice in the process.”
The closing date is 6pm on 22 May.
Retailer ShowPonyPrep started its first online competition series in March, which attracted 850 entries, and has had more than 1,000 for its second series. The company has decided that it will continue to run the competitions every month.
“Shows and social gatherings are the core of our business and sales came to a standstill at our busiest time of year when everyone should be preparing their horses, replenishing grooming products and getting new outfits for horse and rider,” said CEO Karlie Jelly. “But my partner Tal and I are optimistic people and always want to find the best out of a bad situation.
‘Our hope is that it will go part of the way towards recreating the magic’
Entry is open to all, with 80% of the entry fee going to NHS Charities Together
“I had in my mind the amount of children and adults alike that would have the same feeling of emptiness as we had when losing the 2020 show season. We needed to create something that would keep people stimulated with clear focus throughout the tough times ahead.”
The virtual showing series includes in-hand, ridden and jumping classes, 16 championships and two supreme championships, and entrants can submit new or old pictures or videos, with rosettes and prizes available.
Entry costs £3.
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