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‘Please help’: owner of struggling riding school appeals to H&H readers in time of crisis

The owner of one of the hundreds of riding schools struggling across the country during lockdown has appealed to H&H readers to help them survive.

Emily Randall, owner of Monarch Farm Riding Stables in Cambridgeshire, told H&H she is keeping her head above water thanks to family support and her “amazing” staff, who have agreed to take pay cuts.

“If it wasn’t for that, I’d have 25 school horses I’d have to re-home — or worse,” she said. “Some of my horses are in their mid-20s and I’ve had them since they were two; they’re saints and they teach all the children coming through, but how could I rehome them?”

Emily also thanked her clients, for sponsoring ponies, her farrier who has told her to pay his bill when she can, and those who have contributed to the £2,000 she has raised on her JustGiving page. But this latter made her realise something else.

“I set up my page, and thought I’d see who else had done the same,” she said. “I found 40 other stables in a very easy search, all appealing for help to get them through the next month.”

Emily told the familiar tale; 39 horses who need to be fed and cared for as usual, with no income.

“I know authorities are pushing for us to be able to open as soon as possible, and of course we want to but we’re in a global health crisis and we have to be closed,” she said. “I think we all understand that, but when you’re faced with three months of absolutely no support, it’s very hard.”

Emily is unable to take advantage of the furlough scheme, as like other equestrian businesses, she needs her staff to look after the horses. She did qualify for the self-employed support, but as she has always taken a very low wage, investing money back into the business instead, she was only eligible for £1,300.

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“That’s all the help I get, for three months, and I’m sure I’m not the only one,” she said. “If you’re not also a livery yard, every stream of income has gone. These people appealing for help aren’t doing it because they want to – it’s because this is a crisis in our industry.”

Emily asked H&H readers to consider supporting their local riding schools.

“If every reader could go on JustGiving and find their nearest school, and give a few pounds, it would help us so much, and we might all be here afterwards,” she said.

“So many top riders start at riding schools; we’re the future.”

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