Riders who lost their horses in a fire at an equestrian centre have organised a memorial ride in their honour.
Ciera Battson and Grace Tredgold have created the Elmwood Memorial Ride on 2 December, to remember the 12 horses who were killed in a suspected arson at Elmwood Equestrian Centre, Burnham-on-Crouch, on 3 December 2017.
Ciera, who lost her loan pony Rex, a 20-year-old Connemara, told H&H: “Rex was the best pony you could ask for. We wanted to do something a year on from the fire and remind people we haven’t forgotten. At the time we had a lot of support from the public and we want to thank them.
“On the night, we found out about the fire on a local community Facebook page. We rushed there but there was nothing we could do – the barn had gone up in seven minutes. I was screaming and running to the fields to see if any of the horses had run out of the barn but they hadn’t.”
Ten of the horses that died: Archie; Willow; Diamond; Gizmo; Rex; Priya; Rio; Minnie; Ziggy and Murphy. Alisha and Poppy (not pictured) also died in the fire.
Grace, who lost her 10-year old thoroughbred mare Willow in the fire, said the whole yard was affected.
“As much as it affected the people that lost horses, it had such a huge impact on everyone at the yard and the community. We never thought something like that could happen,” Grace told H&H.
“Our yard is like a second family so we all pulled together, it brought everyone a bit closer. When the crime scene was opened, the yard owner’s partner removed the horses and we found Rex’s bit in the remains from the fire but otherwise we lost everything, all that was left was metal,” said Ciera.
Ciera, and Grace have had help from Ciera’s sister Beth and Rex’s owner Helen Wallar in organising the nine-and-a-half mile ride, which will be on and off-road.
“The ride has had a lot of interest on Facebook and we have a lot of people offering support. We’re putting up posters in shops, we’ve made people aware on the local community Facebook group that there might be a lot of horses on the road that day and we’ve had meetings with farmers about using some of their fields,” said Ciera.
“The ride is weather-dependent with it being December but we are expecting up to 60 horses along with supporters.”
The owners of three horses rescued from a blazing barn in a suspected arson attack, will remain on watch throughout…
Police and the RSPCA are appealing for information on the incident
Take out a trial subscription to Horse & Hound magazine and get 6 issues for just £6
There is no cost to take part in the ride, but donations can be made to the charity Essex Horse & Pony Protection Society.
“The charity helped a lot after the fire and donated rugs and headcollars so if we raise any money we want it to go there to say thank you,” said Ciera.
A spokesman for Essex Police, which was investigating the incident, told H&H: “Following a thorough investigation we have, unfortunately, reached a stage where there is not enough evidence to progress our enquiries any further. No case is ever closed and if new information comes to light we will of course review it.”
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday.