‘We need your help’: drive to support struggling riding schools *H&H Plus*

  • The British Horse Society has launched the third phase of its hardship fund for riding schools, and is asking for the community’s help to support horse welfare in centres hit hard by coronavirus restrictions. H&H finds out more

    “WE need your help, now more than ever”.

    This is the message from the British Horse Society (BHS) as it launches phase three of its hardship fund, to support riding schools struggling during the pandemic, and encourages people to donate to the pot.

    The BHS was among the organisations lobbying the Government for riding schools to be allowed to stay open during the second English lockdown, but this was ultimately unsuccessful.

    As Government financial support was lower than in the first lockdown, but expenditure on feed, forage and bedding is up, a BHS spokesman said: “Now is the time to launch phase three of the BHS Hardship Fund.”

    BHS-approved centres with 10 or fewer horses are eligible for £400 each, while those with more than 10 can apply for £800.

    BHS CEO James Hick told H&H that during the first two phases, the BHS had paid £337,000 in grants, and also waived its approval fees for all approved centres, at a cost of £194,000 (news, 23 April).

    He expects phase three to total £260,000. The grants have come from financial contributions from BHS national, regional and county committees, as well as from the charity’s funds, and the BHS’s coronavirus appeal.

    “We’re hugely grateful to our regional and county committees and volunteers, and to the public and equestrian community, who have put £80,000 into the appeal fund; that’s absolutely massive,” he said.

    “Riding schools are the lifeblood of the equestrian community; tens of thousands of people started their equestrian careers at riding schools, and they deliver all four of our charitable aims. Our strategy throughout the lockdowns has been to support that part of the equestrian community, as well as the wider community, as far as we can.”

    The hardship fund grants must be used directly to benefit horse welfare, such as for feed, bedding or farriery. And as the money in the appeal fund has been spent, all donations will be appreciated.

    “We’re asking people to give whatever they can afford,” Mr Hick said. “If people can, it would be tremendously helpful, as there’s a long winter ahead.”

    The BHS had 180 applications for the fund in its first four days.

    One of those was from Trenley Park in Kent. The centre’s Andrew Payne told H&H: “Most of what we do is educational, with schools and universities, so we did think we’d be able to carry on under education, but we couldn’t.

    “The last lockdown was easier as our university contracts end in the middle of March anyway and the horses go out; feeding is almost non-existent, but this one has been very tricky.”

    Mr Payne said he was grateful to the BHS for its “amazing” support.

    “We’re not going to allow any of our horses to suffer, but every penny helps,” he said.

    BHS Fellow Yogi Breisner said: “We need your help, now more than ever. Riding schools and training centres are finding times very difficult, and you can help by donating £5. Text ‘Horse’ to 70507. Thank you very much.”

    You might also be interested in…