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Inner-city riding club takes second prestigious international award

Ebony Horse Club has won its second FEI solidarity award, 10 years after it first took the title.

The London club has been recognised as the best of the decade in this year’s international awards, which sought the winners of the past 10 years rather than just 2020 owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the second award of the week for Ebony, whose horse Splash was named inspirational animal of the year in the 2020 Daily Mirror Animal Hero Awards.

Ebony general manager Naomi Howate told H&H it was a fantastic week for the club.

“It’s been amazing to win these two awards,” she said. “We were the furthest back nominee as we won in 2009, so we weren’t fresh in people’s minds, and the others in the category were fantastic.

“We had no idea we were going to win. It was all down to public vote, and worldwide; the fact people took the time to look at what we do and vote is brilliant.

“The fact we won again 10 years on shows the longevity of our work, that it’s still effective and having an impact on kids’ lives. That’s what’s really special about it.”

She added: “Ebony is a youth club with horses, rather than a riding centre, because our ethos is all about helping our young people be the best they can be both on and off the horses.”

The FEI has given Ebony a grant to support its projects.

“We are a small club and we don’t have lots of resources,” Naomi said. “Donations are everything, as it is how we can provide the work we are doing. We support about 400 young people in a year and we can only do that with donations of money that allow us to run our services. So receiving this from the FEI is fantastic.”

More than 70,000 votes were cast for the awards, the winners of which were revealed in a video narrated by multiple medal-winning British para dressage rider Natasha Baker.

Double Olympic Eventing team gold medallist Ingrid Klimke won a second Peden Bloodstock best athlete award, while team Klimke’s head groom Carmen Thiemann took the Cavalor best groom award.

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The runners-up in these awards were another partnership; Charlotte Dujardin and supergroom Alan Davies.

The against all odds award went to German Paralympian Angelika Trabert, who was born without legs and only three fingers on her right hand, and is well known for her “indefatigable” spirit and her motto “It’s ability, not disability, that counts”.

German dressage rider Semmieke Rothenberger won the Longines FEI Rising Star Award.

FEI president Ingmar de Vos said: “Our global and diverse community is built on our shared passion for horsemanship, and the team spirit, which is so present in all five of our winners, is replicated around the world and at every level of the sport, both on and off the field.

“Passion and resilience define our community, and these values are echoed in the stories of each of our FEI awards winners for 2020. Congratulations to all the nominees and especially to our winners – thank you for your commitment to the sport and the values which make the equestrian world so rewarding and inspiring.”

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