‘It’s not the horses’ fault’: UK equestrian community comes together to help Ukraine

  • A foundation has been created to help the horses in Ukraine, as thousands of pounds are raised by the equestrian community.

    The Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation, which works with the FEI and national federations, is collating offers of help and donations to horse owners and stables in Ukraine, as well as trying to help get horses out of the country, where possible. The foundation says there are more than 100,000 horses in Ukraine, many of whom are unable to seek safety, and have no shelter and care.

    The foundation is receiving help from across Europe and has representatives in different countries coordinating the offers of help and donations. Cantie Speid-Soote, assistant district commissioner of the Cattistock branch of the Pony Club, is a UK coordinator for the foundation and through a contact in Poland has organised a lorry to take feed, haylage and shavings to the drop-off point in Ukraine, thanks to more than £5,000 donated by UK supporters in 48 hours. The foundation has two additional lorries taking donations tomorrow (8 March) and Wednesday (9 March).

    “I saw what was happening and just thought, imagine what it would be like if that was us. I would like to think that somebody was out there trying to do something,” Cantie told H&H.

    “I hugely appreciate the need for human help, but it’s not the horses’ fault. They didn’t ask to be left in a war zone and it’s so heartbreaking. One stud farm in Kyiv had its feed stores bombed three days ago. We’re doing our best to help, but some places we can’t get into.”

    People can help by buying feed, haylage and shavings direct from Polish merchants via the foundation’s website, which will be delivered to drop-off points in Ukraine and distributed. A bank account is also being set up for those who wish to make cash donations. The bank details will appear on the foundation’s website when this is ready.

    Country Haylage and Sidhill Transport have been liaising with the foundation and are sending out three articulated lorries next week with supplies. The companies have set up a Crowdfunding page for donations, which to date has raised more than £7,000, and will be used to fund the transport.

    Ross Giles, who runs Country Haylage with George Baker, told H&H the more money that is raised, the more lorries will be sent out. Visit the JustGiving page.

    Last week the FEI approved the allocation of a “Solidarity relief fund” of one million Swiss francs (£812,487) for the equestrian community of Ukraine. The FEI said it was “liaising closely” with the Ukrainian equestrian federation and neighbouring countries to facilitate and coordinate logistical support.

    Other companies and organisations involved in sending donations include Spillers, the British Hanoverian Society, and charitable foundation Worldwide Vets. Dressage trainer Pammy Hutton and British Horse Society Fellow Tim Downes are hosting a career pathway webinar this evening (7 March), with all ticket proceeds going to the Ukraine equestrian Federation.

    Some individuals are choosing to fill their lorries with supplies and take them to Ukraine, but Cantie warned drivers there is import tax and paperwork to consider and not all items are acceptable. Anyone who chooses to do this should only do so via the Ukrainian equestrian federation for full guidance.

    “The generosity of people has been phenomenal. I can see people are desperate to help but I don’t want them to collect donations in a lorry and spend money, for things not to get there,” she said.

    Visit www.helpukrainehorses.eu to make a donation.

    Helping humans too

    The equestrian community has also come together to help Ukrainian families. Louenna Hood, daughter of showing producer Allister Hood, is working with senior showing steward Phil Judge, of agricultural transport company Philip Judge International, to send two lorries of essential supplies donated by the public to Poland. The first lorry is on its way and will be met by 50 volunteers who will distribute the items. More than £47,000 has also been raised via a JustGiving page which will be used to help families. Visit the JustGiving page.

    The Kimblewick hunt kennels in Buckinghamshire have been opened as a drop-off hub for donations, which will be delivered to the Aid Ukraine depot, set up by the Ukrainian embassy.

    “It feels a tiny thing to do in light of the desperate situation, but we have a strong community around Kimblewick and everyone wants to help,” said hunt spokesman Eleasha Sallis.

    The kennels are open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 2pm on Sundays.

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