‘Generous and instant kindness’: Ukraine thanks the horse world for ongoing support

  • The equestrian community has been praised for its “generous and instant kindness” in response to the crisis in Ukraine.

    To date thousands of pounds have been raised to help humans and horses in Ukraine, and lorries continue to deliver donations of vital supplies, medical equipment and horse feed.

    The Ukrainian equestrian federation said the situation is “exceptionally challenging” and constantly evolving, and thanked everyone for their “patience”, adding that the collaborative efforts from a number of organisations are beginning to have an impact for those who need help.

    “We are extremely grateful to the many breeding societies, equestrian federations, and charities including the FEI, the Finnish equestrian federation, British Equestrian, World Horse Welfare and individuals from many countries around the world for their ongoing support to help with a hugely complex operation in what is essentially a war zone,” said a Ukraine equestrian federation spokesman.

    Cantie Speid-Soote, the assistant district commissioner of the Cattistock Hunt branch of the Pony Club, and a UK coordinator for the Ukrainian equestrian federation’s charity foundation told H&H the support had been “incredible”.

    “The first horses left Ukraine and arrived at the holding hub in Poland on Saturday (19 March) and will soon make their way to other stables in different countries,” she said.

    “We now have a large database of offers of help and these are being matched and coordinated with the people asking for help. It’s been a very challenging situation, especially at the hub in Poland where aid is being dropped off. There is a shortage of forklifts making the loading and unloading of pallets from trucks very slow. If anyone can donate a forklift they should get in touch with the federation.”

    The Cattistock Hunt branch of the Pony Club is among the various organisations raising funds for horses in Ukraine. The branch has raised more than £5,000 to date, and plans to do more fundraising including a sponsored ride on 14 May, and some junior members plan to take on a “tough mudder” challenge on a bridleway, led by Cantie’s daughter Tabby.

    “We have to remember this is going to be a long-term thing. In six months or more these people are still going to need our help so it’s so important we keep fundraising and continue to be there for them,” said Cantie.

    A spokesman for the Ukraine equestrian federation told H&H at the moment it urgently needs a pallet lifter, forklifts, and stable equipment including wheelbarrows.

    “We also would like to increase the stock of haylage. These are all fairly urgent. We have 280 tonnes of hard feed that arrived yesterday and several more trucks with hard feed are arriving this week at our base at Lesna Wola which will be distributed,” he said.

    The British Equestrians for Ukraine fund, set up by British Equestrian, the British Horse Society, the British Equestrian Trade Association and World Horse Welfare, with support from member bodies across the industry, has received more than £100,000 in donations since launching on 9 March. BETA has also coordinated and collected feed and bedding worth around £90,000, which is on its way to Poland and the British Veterinary Professionals for Ukraine fund has raised more than £15,000 in donations as well as physical donations.

    World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers said the situation in Ukraine remains “deeply worrying” but it was “encouraging” to see the progress being made in getting supplies through the Ukrainian border.

    “This is just the beginning and there is no doubt that this is going to be an ongoing mission. Without the generosity of everyone who has donated to the appeal already, none of this would have been possible. In such concerning times it is so uplifting to see how much support there is for the animals and people of Ukraine. Financial donations will help us most at this stage as we work with trusted partners on the ground,” he said.

    The efforts of the showing community, spearheaded by senior showing steward Phil Judge of agricultural transport company Philip Judge International, judge Nigel Oliver, and nanny and maternity nurse Louenna Hood, daughter of showing producer Allister Hood, has continued for the people of Ukraine. An auction on Saturday at The King’s Head in Dillingham raised more than £35,000 with lots including a helicopter ride, a sailing weekend on a 38ft yacht, a day with the Steve Dent stunt team, and a John Deere Gator. To date more than £127,000 has been raised via the Nanny Louenna JustGiving page.

    How to help

    Donations can be made via a number of channels, including the Nanny Louenna JustGiving page which helps humans, and the British Equestrians for Ukraine Fund, which helps horses.

    The Ukraine equestrian federation asks that people do not simply turn up at the Polish/Ukraine border owing to the long lines of lorries and the accreditation paperwork require. Guidance should be followed at www.helpukrainehorses.eu.

    Through help from the FEI Solidarity Fund, a stable facility is being set up at Lviv with 40 boxes to house horses in transit as more are evacuated from Ukraine. The federation said it has received “very generous offers” from a number of logistics/horse transport companies all over Europe, but said crossing the border into Ukraine remains complex “for a number of reasons” and the logistics of moving horses is “extremely challenging”.

    “Our small team has been inundated with messages, emails and calls and we’re very humbled by the support we’ve had but would ask everyone is patient while we try to keep up with our inbox,” said Michaylo Parkhomchuk, secretary general of the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation.

    “The actual situation is that we are forced to act during war and in war zone – as Lviv has already been bombed several times, there are no safe zones anymore and there are no guarantees that logistics or any services in Ukraine will work as intended. The ongoing war makes even the simplest things difficult. This will not deter us from the absolute focus to assist as many horses and owners in our country as we possibly can during these dark times.”

    The federation said it will issue a weekly update of what has been achieved and what help is needed, with clear instructions and guidance, so aid can be expedited to where it is needed as smoothly as possible.

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