The owner of a Clydesdale trekking centre in Devon says he can “start to dream dreams” after the horses’ future was saved thanks to public donations.
Tim Ancrum and partner Aileen Ware, who run Adventure Clydesdales, feared they would have to sell their six horses if they couldn’t raise enough money to build new facilities.
The popular trekking business has been based at Brimpts Farm in Dartmoor for six years, where it has shared the cow barn with two tenant farmers.
But it was left in a race against time after the farmers said they needed the barn back by 31 March.
“We were lucky enough to find the farm here when we moved from Bodmin several years ago and they have been incredibly supportive of us but the nature of the farming operation meant [one of the farmers] needed his cattle shed back and eventually he had to give us a deadline,” Tim said.
Tim and Aileen set a crowdfunding target of £25,000 to build a barn at a nearby plot on the farm, with 15×15 pens to house the horses when they are working during the day.
“We had a tremendous response to the appeal and there was a groundswell of interest in making sure we didn’t disappear,” said Tim. “There was a point where we were on the edge for three weeks wondering if we’d survive or not but then we were featured on a local TV programme BBC Spotlight Southwest, which set the phones ringing.
“If we hadn’t raised the money we’d have had to sell the horses — I’m sure people would have bitten our hands off for them but they’re our friends and it would have broken our hearts.”
Tim said that once they had broken the £25,000 barrier they knew they would be able to build a new base — but to his surprise the donations kept coming, and the crowd-funding page total is now over £33,000.
“People have given us from £5 to £15,000; it’s been astonishing the level of concern and interest in Clydesdales and heavy horses. People don’t want to lose them, they are a bit of our history,” he said.
“A lot of more experienced riders are attracted to come and ride them on Dartmoor — we had about 5,000 customers last year and there are 11,000 people who follow us on Facebook.”
Tim now hopes the additional funds will help them attract more visitors and even expand their herd.
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“It’s looking like we might now be able to contribute to the numbers of Clydesdales in the UK by getting some mares and having our own little breeding stock — that would be my dream,” he said.
“We’re passionate about Clydesdales — they are classed as vulnerable with 500-700 registered breeding mares in the country. We feel it would be a great shame to lose what is an amazing and versatile horse and riding with them on the moor has given them an extra purpose.”
The business is also hoping to share its passion for the breed by building classroom areas in the barn where people can learn about the heavy horses, as well as the moor.
“I think we will bring in more drop-in visitors that way with people just wanting to meet the horses,” he added.
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