British Horse Society supports Government research into firework noise impact on animals

In the last year, more than double the number of incidents involving fireworks were reported to the BHS, up from 66 to 134. Over 400 incidents and, tragically, 23 horse fatalities have been reported to the BHS since 2010.

The British Horse Society (BHS) will be supporting the House of Common Petitions Committee’s report on their inquiry into fireworks. The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) have committed to delivering an awareness campaign as the 2020 firework season gets underway, which will promote the safe and considerate use of fireworks, with a focus on the effects on animals.


The BHS is supporting the Governments campaign, providing advice and resources for horse owners, as well as working alongside other animal charities, such as the RSPCA, to raise awareness. With many public displays being cancelled due to COVID-19 it is expected that there will be many more informal displays this year.

Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society, said: “We are delighted to be involved with the government and other animal charities to provide the OPSS with our statistics and to help with the wider education around the use of fireworks.”

“Fireworks may be enjoyable for some people, but they can cause considerable trauma or distress to horses. We would urge anyone planning to set off fireworks during this period, especially on November 5th to consider the effect it may have on local animals and the potential fire risk to stables or outbuildings.”

“If you are a horse owner and you are aware of a firework display, please notify your neighbour or display organiser to the location of horses nearby and let them know the challenges horses and other animals face when fireworks are let off. Ask them if there are any changes that they could make to ensure the animals safety, such as setting the fireworks off in another direction.”

“I also urge our equine community to report any firework concerns to the BHS horse incidents website (  It is vital that we gather this evidence, so that we can provide the OPSS with data across the UK, to assist with further decisions around fireworks in the future.”

The BHS offers practical firework advice to horse owners if they are concerned for the welfare or safety of their horse. This includes downloadable posters; horse owner checklist to prepare and make firework season as safe as possible for you and your horses, and information and guidance for people planning their own private firework display. All the resources and information are available at

As the largest equine charity in the UK, The British Horse Society is dedicated to education, equine welfare, protecting and increasing access to bridleways and places to ride and carriage drive off road, and safety for horse and riders. The Society’s thriving and active community of staff and volunteers is committed to improving the lives of horses everywhere.

House of Commons Petition Committee’s report can be seen on the link below.

Cheltenham dodges bad weather and racing is set for Friday

 Cheltenham avoided the worst of recent bad weather and the track is set to go ahead tomorrow, Friday, with its first meeting since March.

The ground was eased to good, good to soft in places, after clerk of the course Simon Claisse walked the track on Wednesday afternoon.

Today is forecast to be dry before showers on Friday when Cheltenham hosts a seven-race card, the first four of which will be shown on  ITV4.

Dan Skelton is expected to run his Grade 1 winner Allmankind there this Saturday. The four-year-old was an impressive juvenile last season and a leading contender for the Triumph Hurdle following a good win in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle over the festive period. However, he could only finish third behind Burning Victory there.

Trainer Dan Skelton

 The Sea Moon offspring is earmarked to begin his new campaign in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at Prestbury Park, and his trainer has been pleased with how his stable star has been training ahead of this weekend.

He said: “I am very happy with him and I presume he’s improved for a summer, but of course the run on Saturday will tell us if he has.”

Winter training opportunities at Hickstead are thriving with new schooling facility

When the Directors of the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead opened their new all-weather cross-country schooling facility exactly one year ago, they couldn’t have foreseen just what an important role it would play in this most unusual of years.

Top class action at Hickstead Photo: Nigel Goddard

Like many businesses in the sporting and event sectors, Hickstead faced a difficult year when the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of its two international horse shows. The new cross-country facilities had been launched as a supplementary income for the showground, running from October through to May in the ‘off season’.

But with neither of Hickstead’s flagship shows able to run, the training facilities have stayed open for most of this year, aside from the weeks of full lockdown, and during September’s Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships, which was the only Hickstead-run event to take place this season.

In its first year the facilities have proved very popular, with thousands of riders heading to West Sussex to train over the variety of cross-country obstacles. The course is set across two vast all-weather surfaces – the Equine America Arena and adjoining Airowear Arena, along with the large Equine America Water Complex – with jumps ranging from 60cm to 1.10m in height. It offers year-round foot-perfect going, which has been particularly beneficial during the wet winter and prolonged dry .

Part of Hickstead’s excellent cross country facilities

Among those to train at Hickstead include Olympic event riders Pippa Funnell, Tina Cook and Gemma Tattersall, while plenty of leading trainers have also held training clinics at the facility.

Another opportunity that has proved popular has been the showjumping hire in the 2plan Wealth Arena, featuring a professionally-built course designed by international course builder Ben Townley. The jumps include fillers, planks, water trays and combinations, and the course is regularly refreshed to keep it varied and challenging.

This winter showjumping hire will continue until the end of November, with floodlit sessions available on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings. Arena Polo at Hickstead will return for December and January, before the showjumping hire resumes from February until late spring.

Arena hire runs under strict Covid regulations, and all bookings must be made online at


Plumpton Racecourse message re membership restrictions

A Plumpton spokesperson said today:

“I realise we all follow the same news and so I am preaching to the choir here, but the latest set of Government Restrictions were clearly a blow to the racecourse and of course to your prospects of joining us for some racing in the near future.

“Just in case you hadn’t heard, the latest Government Restrictions put a stop to crowds returning to racecourses from today, October 1, and instead said that we may not see a crowd for up to six months.

We have greatly appreciated your support in this lockdown and hope to do so again going forward. The plan, if you are agreeable, is to keep the 2020/21 membership rolling for when we are allowed people on the racecourse. We will of course be allowed people back in at some point soon and we would like to re-issue the membership at that point with all the same benefits as previously, and you’d have of course already paid for i

It wasn’t confirmation that you would be prohibited from attending for this length of time, but it gave the Government some room on not setting an official date for getting crowds back, in the meantime giving further headaches and uncertainty to venues such as ourselves.


It is hard to define exact parameters as we don’t know how many fixtures it would entail from this season and next season, but rest assured we’d make absolutely sure you had your full memberships worth based on previous seasons.

If this is not to your satisfaction, then please do call the office and speak to us about this as it is a strange time all round.

Hopefully we get back to some normality soon in all our lives, and we would sincerely hope one of the first things you can do is visit Plumpton.


Dan, Holly & Team

Virtual Windsor Autumn Horse show on streamed video starting today

ORGANISERS of CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show have announced the packed official programme for the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series 2020 Show, which takes place via a daily streamed video from today, September 25-27, starting at 1pm every day.

Available worldwide via Facebook, YouTube and the Virtual Windsor website, the Show will comprise the judging of the online Showing classes, plus The Omega Equine Pony Club Dressage Home International, The Riding for the Disabled Association Dressage Challenge, supported by Players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Wychanger, and The Omega Equine Equitation Jumping alongside regular Shopping Fixes, Horse Wellness and an exclusive masterclass from international showjumper William Whitaker.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is William-Whitaker-in-action.jpg
William Whitaker in competitive action Photo: Craig Payne

Virtual Windsor teams up with a loyal and hugely successful Windsor stalwart, William Whitaker, to deliver three fantastic Masterclasses covering a range of exercises which can be adopted by everyone.

The three sessions, which will be aired one per day on today, Saturday and Sunday of Virtual Windsor cover top tips on everything from walking a course, identifying and adjusting striding and lines, flatwork and polework exercises, and a range of improving exercises to suit different horses.

In the first, William talks viewers through his techniques for riding lines between fences and said, “I didn’t get them right every time, but then explained where I’d gone wrong and did it right. I think that’s good for people to see as they only usually see the end product – the 80 seconds in the ring – and think that’s how it is all the time but it’s not at all!”

For the third Masterclass William did some gridwork with a seven-year-old who can rush his fences, and adapted some of the exercises for his eight year old daughter Bella and her pony, proving that you do not need to be jumping 1m40 to practice.

He ended his Masterclasses with some wise words to remember in the lead up to any event be it Virtual or ‘real’; “Build up steadily so your horse knows exactly what’s being asked.”

Livestream Schedule for Autumn Series With three days of international competition across three disciplines, the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series is gearing up for an exciting weekend. Commentators Nick Brooks-Ward and Adam Cromarty lead the action, interviewing judges, competitors and viewers to bring a whole show’s worth of competition online.

The format of the show has thrown entries open to riders around the world, bringing the very best of the best together and pitching professionals and amateurs side by side to find some real world champions.

Today, the first day of the Autumn Series kicks off with a superb round of showing classes, with a judging panel headed by Senior Judge Nigel Hollings, accompanied by Julian White, Mark Broadbent, Anne Leaver and Patricia Pattinson. Nigel and the team cover a strong international entry from Hunters, Hacks, Riding Horses, Cobs, Private Driving supported by the Carriage Association of America, and the return of the Heavy Horse class by popular demand – guest judged by Steve Gregg, Vice President of the Clydesdale Horse Association of Canada.

One of the highlights of the Friday livestream is The Riding for the Disabled Association Dressage Challenge supported by Players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Wychanger.

The video dressage competition, which has been encouraging RDA and para riders to #RideUnstoppable through challenges posed by this difficult year, is won by the rider with the highest percentage score across eleven sections available. Judged by John Robinson, one of only three British para judges qualified to judge at 5* level, the class has been an opportunity for riders to get back to competition – with several entries competing in their first ever dressage test at Virtual Windsor.

SCHEDULE Class 1 ‐ Ridden Hunters (Small & Lightweight). Prize kindly provided by Brass Tacks Class 2 ‐ Ridden Hunters (Middleweight & Heavyweight). Prize kindly provided by Latham & Taylor Class 3 ‐ Ridden Hacks Class 4 ‐ Ridden Riding Horse supported by High Weald Horse Hydro. Prize kindly provided by Mojo Europe Class 5 ‐ Ridden Cobs (Lightweight, Heavyweight & Maxi) supported by Horses Inside Out Show Horse Championship Class 6 ‐ Private Driving supported by The Carriage Association of America Class 7 ‐ Heavy Horses & Draught Horses of the World supported by The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Toronto. Prize kindly supplied by Estribos

THE RIDING FOR THE DISABLED ASSOCIATION DRESSAGE CHALLENGE is supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. Prizes generously provided by Wychanger Equestrian & Country Store Shopping Fix: Fashion & Jewellery Horse Wellness with High Weald Horse Hydro Masterclass Part 1 with William Whitaker

SATURDAY 26 SEPTEMBER Saturday is a great day for young riders and jumping enthusiasts, with Show Pony, Show Hunter Pony, Plaited Mini Pony and Working Hunter and Working Hunter Pony classes coming to the fore. Highlights of Saturday include The Omega Equine Equitation Jumping – an all-new discipline designed with virtual competition in mind, which enables riders to compete in jumping classes from home.

The Autumn Series reaches a crescendo on Sunday 27 September with The Omega Equine Pony Club Home International Dressage. A competition usually held at Royal Windsor Horse Show, this time the event has gone virtual – with a new qualification system which threw open Team places. The riders representing each nation have won their spots through getting a top placing in an initial qualifying round, with the highest scores going on to the team.

The Sunday will also feature the highlight of the showing, as Nigel Hollings and his team judge the Side Saddle, Coloured and ROR classes, before The Voltaire Design Virtual Windsor Supreme Showing Championships take place.

It caps a veritable feast of Showing across three days which would not have been possible without the generosity of sponsors and donors.

Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward, commented: “The organising team has done a tremendous job to put on what we believe will be another spectacular Virtual Show Week building on the excitement and fun of the Virtual Show in May.  We hope as many people get involved as possible and continue to enjoy their sport – even if it is from the sofa.’ The free-to-view content will begin at 1pm each day and be available on Facebook, YouTube, and on the Virtual Windsor 2020 website.

SCHEDULE Class 18 ‐ Side Saddle (including Best Costume) Prize kindly provided by Welligogs Class 19A ‐ Coloured Ridden (Plaited Horse or Pony) Prize kindly supplied by Country Frog Class 19B ‐ Coloured Ridden (Traditional & Native Horse or Pony) Prize kindly supplied by Country Frog Class 20A ‐ Coloured In Hand (Traditional & Native Horse or Pony) Prize kindly supplied by Country Frog Class 20B ‐ Coloured In Hand (Plaited Horse or Pony) Prize kindly supplied by Country Frog Coloured Championship Class 22 ‐ The Saracen Horse Feeds RoR Ridden Class 23 ‐ The Saracen Horse Feeds RoR In Hand RoR Championship
The Voltaire Design Supreme Championship THE OMEGA EQUINE PONY CLUB HOME INTERNATIONAL DRESSAGE Shopping Fix: Country Lifestyle and Living Horse Wellness with Saracen Horse Feeds Masterclass Part 3 with William Whitaker.

Autumn Cup Polo final at Cowdray

The final 12 foal tournament of the season at Cowdray Park Polo Club did not disappoint with
Ojo Caliente narrowly defeating Gallagher 5-4 on Lawns Ground 2.

Ojo Caliente (Ana Escobedo, Terence Lent, Jonny Good and John Paul Clarkin) survived a late push from Gallagher (Clare Milford Haven, Dominic Lodge, Glenn Sherriff, Bautista Sorzana), who’s last second goal left them one short in the thrilling final. Jonny Good and John Paul Clarkin proved to be an effective duo, combining for all five Ojo Caliente goals in the victory.

Gallagher opened the scoring on an impressive team play, beginning with Clare Milford Haven running the ball in front of goal, followed by a deft backhand to set up Bautista Sorzana for the first goal of the match.

Despite receiving three penalty attempts, Ojo Caliente was only able to manage one field goal from Jonny Good, but it was enough to tie the score at 1-1 at the conclusion of the first chukka. After conceding a penalty 4 to Sherriff, Ojo Caliente’s John Paul Clarkin responded with a penalty conversion of his own, while Good’s second goal gave Ojo Caliente the slim 3-2 lead at halftime.

AutumnCup winners Ojo Caliente Photo Mark Beaumont

Jumping on each loose ball, Gallagher fought their way back into the game, hitting a series of backhands that eventually resulted in Sherriff converting a shot under pressure for his second goal. Holding Ojo Caliente off the scoresheet in the third chukka, Gallagher remained deadlocked in a 3-3 tie entering an exciting fourth and final chukka.

With the pressure increasing in the final, Ojo Caliente struck first after Clarkin intercepted a backhand and dribbled to goal, giving his team the one-goal advantage. Jumping on a loose ball, Johnny Good sealed the 5-4 victory for Ojo Caliente, as a last-minute goal from Sherriff wasn’t enough to complete the comeback.

Best Playing Pony was awarded to Nova, owned, and ridden by JP Clarkin.

Final Score: -Winners Ojo Caliente

Ojo Caliente        5

Gallagher             4

Pony Club Home International teams announced

Looking ahead to Pony Club Dressage Home International

Organisers of the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series has announced the teams who will represent England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the Omega Equine Pony Club Dressage Home International. Participants achieved their places through an open qualifying round system and have submitted their filmed dressage tests to be shown during the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series Livestream, from 1pm on Sunday 27 September 2020.

The online Show was the obvious place to host a version of Royal Windsor Horse Show’s Pony Club Home International after the competition sadly couldn’t take place earlier this year. The Pony Club and Virtual Windsor teams collaborated in organising the competition, and it is a great example of how to leverage talents with a real ‘adapt and overcome’ spirit.

The Pony Club appointed Dressage Judges Clare Deithrick, John Robinson and Linda Pearce who bring their great experience to the competition. Each country’s team is composed of one Novice, one Intermediate and two Open riders.

Places on the teams are awarded to the highest placed riders of each nation in the qualifying rounds. Their scores are then added together to give the final team scores. The innovative qualifying method has thrown the competition open this year, with the criteria for entry only being that the competitor must be a current member of The Pony Club and must have two verifiable scores of 67% or over at the level they wish to compete at (or its British Dressage equivalent) in the 2018 – 2020 season.

The teams are a real demonstration of the breadth and depth of talent which The Pony Club nurtures, and the competition has given a chance for riders from every corner of the countries to try out for places.

For Laura King and Bellissima MKM, who ride the Open test for Northern Ireland, the Home International probably marks the last test they will ever ride for The Pony Club, having been a Member of the Iveagh since the age of eight.

At the other end of the scale, Reece Cunningham and Inside Out II are just starting out on their Pony Club careers, having impressed the judges to take the Intermediate spot for Scotland.

The Republic of Ireland is very much representing a talented new generation of riders, fielding a very young team which includes 10-year-old Charlotte Goor and Barkway State Affair, who ride their Novice test.The riders also show off an amazing array of horses and ponies from the British Isles and beyond, from fell pony Lownthwaite Savin (Rhona Forbes) who will compete for Scotland, to more traditional dressage types like Callum Robertson’s Irish Sportshorse, Ferro Curry.

As part of the Virtual Windsor Autumn Series, Olympic dressage rider and long-time supporter of The Pony Club Richard Davison has been interviewed by commentator Nick Brooks-Ward, alongside Marcus Capel, Chief Executive of The Pony Club.

The three, who are all fathers of Members reminisced about their own time in The Pony Club, their ‘best’ dressage tests, their most nerve wracking moments as Dads, discuss equality and debate who gets to ride Big Star in a fantasy jump off! 

A great supporter of the organisation, the four-time Olympian, Davison said, “The Pony Club gave me the grounding for spending all the years that I have done as a professional in equestrian sport and training horses – and it’s funny because I actually didn’t ride a dressage test I don’t think during the time I was a member of The Pony Club!”

Racing to start at Plumpton behind closed doors

PLUMPTON will start its new racing season on Sunday September 20 this year. What is normally run as its family day is to take place behind closed doors. This is in line with the Government Guidelines & BHA protocols that Plumpton must follow.

All tickets will be refunded automatically, or Plumpton will get in touch with people if there is a need too.
The current advice is that sports venues will be able to welcome customers back from October 1, but with the cancellation of some of Doncaster Racecourse’s pilot event and the severe restrictions of Warwick Racecourse’s pilot event for next week (474 spectators), Plumpton does not have certainty of when customers will be allowed back on site.

Racing action returns to Plumpton bheind closed doors. Photo: Jeannie Knight

A spokesperson said: We of course envisage that when you are allowed to join us again, there will a limitation on numbers allowed to the site and we are likely to have to request additional information from you for track and trace purposes (or at least of your guests) but once we know the guidelines, we will of course be in touch again to confirm theses details.
In the meantime, we have left bookings open for tickets and restaurants and are still taking hospitality enquiries (suites of 6 only at the moment) for the remaining 2020 fixtures on the basis that if customers remain unable to come to racedays due to the Government Guidelines, we will either refund the ticket or move it to another fixture of your choice. We very much hope it is sooner rather than later and we welcome any calls on this matter if you wanted to have a chat with us about it.
Whilst we have a very good idea of our fixture list for 2021 (E.g. The Sussex National is Sunday January 3), the problems facing the industry mean that it has not yet been officially confirmed and so we cannot officially announce the 2021 fixtures as yet. If anyone wants to know the provisional dates, we are very happy to share them with you and take provisional bookings. We will also announce the dates as soon as we can.
We are sorry that we can’t provide you a more upbeat message or one not stacked with ambiguity, but we do have our hands tied at the moment. We hope you are all keeping safe and sane both personally and professionally and remain very hopeful we will see you soon.

Exciting finish to final 18-goal tournament at Cowdray Park Polo Club

Finals for the weekend of September 5 and 6

Challenge Cup – 18 goal: Match Report

An exciting conclusion to the final 18-goal tournament of the season at Cowdray Park Polo Club saw Murus Sanctus and Ferne Park battle on Lawns 1, with just one goal separating the two teams.

A foul-ridden opening chukka resulted in Ferne Park’s Joaquin Pittaluga opening the scoring on a penalty 2 conversion, but Murus Sanctus’ Guillermo (Sapo) Caset responded with a penalty 2 of his own to tie the score at the end of the first chukka.

Striving to capture their second consecutive 18-goal title after winning the Duke of Sutherland Cup, Murus Sanctus produced a strong second chukka, dominating possession to outshoot Ferne Park 6-1. Trusting his teammates in the front two positions, Caset hit an impressive neck shot pass to find Corinne Ricard for her first goal, while quickly following up with a backhand pass to Lucas Nottin to complete a three-goal run for Murus Sanctus and give them the 3-1 lead.

Ferne Park inched closer on Pittaluga’s second goal of the game but remained trailing by one. Foul trouble kept Ferne Park from tying the score after the conceded another penalty to Caset, but a strong finish to the half saw Marcos Araya find the scoresheet to pull Ferne Park back within one and set up a thrilling second half.

Challenge Winners Murus Sanctus Photo: Mark Beaumont

The two evenly matched teams provided consistent pressure to begin the second half, with neither team given an inch in what turned into a back and forth match. Trading penalty conversions, Murus Sanctus maintained their one-goal lead, relying on the duo of Caset and Facundo Sola. A determined Ferne Park attack to end the fourth chukka marched downfield, keeping possession until a Murus Sanctus miscue in front of goal allowed Pittaluga to jump into the play and score his third goal, setting the scene for the fifth chukka.

An impressive defensive play from Caset turned the ball over in front of the Ferne Park goal, giving Murus Sanctus the opportunity they needed to extend their lead. On the receiving end of a backhand pass, Facundo Sola executed a perfect nearside neckshot to give Murus Sanctus the two-goal advantage with minutes remaining. Pittaluga converted another penalty 2 to give Ferne Park a chance to tie the score but Murus Sanctus held off the late charge to capture the 7-6 victory and be crowned Challenge Cup champions.

Final Score:

Murus Sanctus 7

Ferne Park 6

The Vickers Trophy awarded for the Best Playing Pony went to Senora Melosa by Open Padrino out of M Honey, owned and ridden by Sapo Caset

Cicero 15 Goal

Winners DJ Cats 7

Best Playing Pony was awarded to: – Ghetto, homebred and owned and ridden by Ollie Cudmore.

Brecknock 8 Goal:Winners Gallagher

Final Score: –

Gallagher 6

Hickstead 3

Best Playing Pony was awarded to: – Salda, owned and ridden by Bautista Sorzana.

Holly Smith wins Hickstead Grand Prix

Leicestershire’s Holly Smith became the second female rider to add her name to the roll of honour in the Science Supplements All England Grand Prix.

The Grand Prix attracted a huge field of 76 starters, but the challenging course and tight time caught many combinations out, with the water in particular proving particularly influential.

Holly Smith on her way to victory at Hickstead Photo: Julian Portch

Only seven riders went clear in the first round, with most of these coming in towards the latter half of the class. A thrilling jump-off ensued, with all but one going double clear. Ireland’s David Simpson and Foudre F looked to have set a difficult time to beat, crossing the line in 48.67sec, but he was quickly followed by Britain’s number one lady rider, Holly Smith, with her All England 1.40m Open Champion Fruselli – and they were scorchingly quick to shave more than 3.5sec off David’s time, finishing on 45.11sec.

Shane Breen and Can Ya Makan – the winners of this week’s other 1.40m Open qualifier – set off on a mission to catch Holly, with the aim of adding a second Hickstead Grand Prix to their tally. But Shane had to settle for second with a time of 45.78sec, ahead of compatriot David Simpson in third.

Holly became the second woman rider to win the feature class of the show, after Harriet Nuttall’s win 12 months ago. 

“I saw David Simpson go and I thought my horse could go a bit quicker than that, but with Shane Breen behind me I knew I had to go for it,” said Holly. “I’ve had a really good week here, and it’s a pleasure to be back at Hickstead.”

Fruselli is a 10-year-old chestnut stallion owned by Sue and Gordon Hall, who also owned Holly’s top horse Hearts Destiny, who sadly died last month. 

“They couldn’t make it down today unfortunately but they’d have been watching on the livestream and cheering him on, and this win will have put a smile back on all of our faces,” Holly added. 

Lucy Townley crowned a brilliant week for the Billy Stud when she took both the first and last classes of the day in the Longines International Arena.

Her first win came courtesy of Billy Vitaini in the Stoner Jewellers All England Novice Championship, and she brought the show to a conclusion with victory in the LeMieux All England 1.30m Open Championship with the eight-year-old Bentley X. 

Sammie-Jo Coffin collected her second Longines International Arena win of the week when claiming the Voltaire Design All England 1.20m Open Championship with Habraxis.