Lessons with top riders up for grabs in Ukraine auction, as work to help horses and riders continues

  • Lessons with Olympic riders, holidays, and days out are among the lots available in an auction raising funds for Ukraine.

    The Ukraine Equestrian Relief organisation was launched by owner of Black Cat Building Consultancy Stephen Barnes, and has had support from individuals and groups in the equestrian industry including commentator Matt Millin, and farriers Mark Caley and Ben Smith. The organisation – which has raised more than £88,000 on its GoFundMe page to date – has also been working with Support for Ukraine Lincolnshire and British Veterinary Professionals for Ukraine to take aid to the Ukrainian border.

    Among Ukraine Equestrian Relief’s fundraising efforts, which have included stands at Badminton and Chatsworth horse trials selling raffle tickets, an auction is taking place with “money can’t buy” experiences up for grabs. Lots include lessons with Olympians Laura Collett and Holly Smith, Paralympian Sir Lee Pearson, and top showing producer Vicky Smith. Also available are days out with hunts, a three-night holiday in Spain, VIP tickets to the London leg of the Global Champions Tour, and London International Horse Show tickets. The bidding for each lot lasts 28 days – and more lots are being added daily, with more lessons from other top riders still to come.

    Mark Caley, who has been part of the two Ukraine Equestrian Relief convoys taking aid and essential supplies to the Ukrainian border, told H&H the equestrian community has “jumped on board”.

    “We’ve all seen the news, and everyone in the country has been hit by what’s going on in Ukraine. This all came about because someone said to one person ‘Do you have a horsebox and is it doing anything?’ We were all headless chickens to start with but it was just that heartfelt feeling of ‘Can we help?’,” said Mark.

    “We could be in a similar situation to Ukraine very easily if this got out of control and that’s why we all did it. When you see the orphan children and women who don’t know where their husbands are, we had to do our bit and we’ll continue to do our bit. I think everybody feels the same way and it’s lovely.”

    To bid in the online auction visit: www.jumblebee.co.uk/UER or to make a donation to the Ukraine Equestrian Relief fundraising page visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/ukraine-equestrian-relief

    International support continues

    The FEI Solidarity Relief Fund for Ukraine – a CHF1 million fund (£823,907) set up in February – has announced new initiatives to support equestrian-related schemes across Ukraine, and neighbouring nations taking in Ukrainian horses and athletes. A hub has been created in Granat between Lviv and the Polish border to prepare horses for transit and to distribute critical supplies such as feed and bedding.

    Other help includes the FEI and the UEF Charity Foundation financing 80 temporary horseboxes to support the set-up of additional horse hubs in Ukraine, and emergency vet supplies are being packaged into specialised kits and dispatched to strategic locations so vets have what is needed to care for the horses remaining in the country.

    “At the onset of the war, the FEI reacted quickly to the situation and set up the Solidarity Fund with the initial outreach aimed at sourcing and funding for immediate and vital supplies as well as evacuation-related procedures, unaware of how long the conflict would endure, and how devastating it would be,” said FEI president Ingmar De Vos.

    “The initiatives are a mix of short- to mid-term objectives aimed at keeping individuals and horses safe and well in Ukraine but also long-term future-proofing to ensure the sport is not entirely put on hold and can recover after the war. It has been awe-inspiring to see the global equestrian community come together to support Ukraine and we will continue to do everything in our power to maximise the reach of the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to help the equestrian community and the horse lovers of Ukraine.”

    Four new athlete scholarships have also been announced. The scheme, based on the existing FEI Solidarity athlete scholarship, will support Ukrainian showjumpers Oleksandr Prodan and Anastasia Bondarieva and dressage riders Danylo Konovalov and Diana Borovyk with training and competition-related preparation, with the goal to represent Ukraine at FEI championships in 2022 and 2023.

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