‘Inspirational’ horse relay featuring thousands of riders raises £10,000 by halfway point

  • A horse relay featuring thousands of riders has reached the halfway point, and already raised more than £10,000 for charity.

    The Great Horses for Health Relay 2021 started in Yorkshire in May and will have covered 11 regions across UK over six months. Participants choose their own routes in their local areas, which are recorded on a map, and the relay “baton” is passed to the next regions at a pre-arranged Covid-safe event.

    The fundraising event, created by rider Sophie Gifford, aims to boost participants’ mental health and highlight how horses can help with wellbeing. It is raising funds for seven charities: the Riding for the Disabled Association, Redwings, Bransby Horses, North Wales Horse Watch, HorseWorld, Hope Pastures and Horseback UK.

    A spokesman for the relay said many “life stories” have emerged since the start of the event including that of Jayne Watson and her horse Stanley, whom she rescued in 2006 as a neglected five-year-old.

    “Jayne suffered a marriage breakdown and was going through a difficult time in her life. The pair built an inseparable bond that was tested to the limit when in 2017 Jayne and Stanley suffered a horrific road accident,” he said.

    “Through Jayne’s devotion and determination, Stanley and Jayne returned to health and were able to carry a baton for the relay during the North West region stage.”

    Sophie said so many “heartbreaking but inspirational” personal stories have come out of the relay.

    “For many people horses have helped them through extremely difficult periods of their life including lockdown and hugely improved their mental health and wellbeing. We started to fundraise in May and as of the beginning of July we’ve passed the halfway mark in our journey across the UK, and raised more than £10,000 for our charities,” she said.

    The relay garnered royal backing in the form of the Duchess of Cornwall as patron, while mounted police forces, top riders and footballers have shown support including Carl Hester, Laura Tomlinson, Dickie Waygood, Rio Ferdinand and Glen Hoddles.

    Participants can still register to take part in the relay at www.horses4health.co.uk. People can ride, carriage drive, or take part in-hand. Individuals can also cycle or walk.

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