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Hunts step up to provide temporary home for inner-city horses

Hunts have come to the rescue of a London-based equestrian charity badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The hunting community has provided transport and free livery for horses and ponies owned by Vauxhall City Farm, and used for Riding for the Disabled Association clients.

On learning that the farm had to move its animals out of London and pay for livery during the crisis, the Countryside Alliance offered to see if there was a way it could help.

“Hunt supporters and members of hunt staff have been incredibly generous,” said Alliance head of hunting Polly Portwin. “By reaching out through our networks, we have managed to secure free grazing for five of their horses and ponies at the home of a supporter of the Hursley Hambledon Hunt.

“We are aware that all of us are going to be affected in one way or another by Covid-19, so we are particularly grateful to all of those people who kindly responded after we reached out. One of the many strengths of the hunting community is that it pulls together to support those who need it the most during times of crisis.”

All seven of the farm’s ponies had been on livery, but there was enough grazing for its two Shetlands in London. Bill Bishop, Crawley and Horsham huntsman, transported the two ponies back to Vauxhall, where the charity’s staff are caring for them.

The Alliance has arranged for the other five to be transported back to London when the time comes.

Vauxhall City Farm chief executive Monica Tyler said: “I would like to thank the Countryside Alliance and the hunting community for their generosity in helping us to transport the horses to their new residence for the foreseeable future.

“This type of support means a lot to us and we are very grateful you were able to help us in this way.

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“The impact of Covid-19 has had a devastating effect on Vauxhall City Farm. This past year we have reached out to over 300,000 people in the community, through our riding lessons for the disabled, mobile farms, visitors to the farm, education and training workshops.  We are a real favourite place to visit for children and families in our locality.

“Virtually overnight we saw our 80% of our income and visitor streams grind to a halt. We have launched an emergency appeal so we can be here for the community as an oasis, of calm and support for those we serve when this crisis is over.”

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