Ask The Experts clinics for riding clubs

Due to the great success of British Riding Clubs (BRC) virtual Sports Resumption clinics, it has organised a timetable of new ‘Ask the Experts’ clinics which will be taking place over the next few months.

During July and August 2020 BRC have been running a series of online clinics following the release of large amounts of important information and guidance relating to restarting riding club activities.

BRC is aware that with this large volume of new information which members, clubs and organisers have had to take onboard and understand, they may at times have felt that these were often complex and overwhelming. So it was decided that to support our riding clubs better we would set-up a series of virtual Sport Resumption clinics, where attendees could ask their questions in person online. 

“It has been great to be able to reassure so many of our clubs. Everyone is keen to resume activities in a safe and steady way and to be able to assist them has been wonderful. As a result of these clinics we have informed organisers that feel confident in running Covid secure activities.” said Rachael Hollely-Thompson – BRC Manager & Editor Rider Magazine

These clinics have been designed to offer members, clubs and organisers the chance to speak with BRC officials about resuming riding club activities and they have proved to be extremely popular. Attendees have been able to ask specific questions relating to Covid-19 compliance, keeping volunteers safe, any new rules that needed further clarification, or just having the chance to hear how it has gone for other riding clubs across the UK.

Members were able to book their place on to an hour-long session giving them the chance to raise questions and queries, with up to 15 attendees taking part per session.

“I found the clinic really useful, we were able to ask any questions we had and they were answered thoroughly. It gave me the reassurance I needed to ensure that we can resume activities while remaining Covid safe for everyone attending our events, including volunteers, riders and spectators.” said Rebecca Rayner – Stevenage & District RC

Due to the success of these virtual Sports Resumption clinics, BRC has now organised a series of new ‘Ask the Experts’ clinics. Starting on August 12, and they will run until October 21, every Wednesday at 7pm. Each session will focus on specific topics such as; General Q&A, Marketing, BRC Rules, Health & Safety and Safeguarding.

These clinics will offer members and clubs the chance to speak with BRC officials and specialists in these subject areas. Members may have some specific questions about how to market their club, new rules that may need extra clarification or need further health and safety guidance for getting club events back up and running with the new Covid-19 compliance or maybe a safeguarding query. These will once again be hour-long sessions which will offer attendees the chance to raise their queries.

In order to attend these clinics, members will need to book onto a session on a day that suits them best and have access to a computer and the internet. We have a maximum capacity of 15 attendees per clinic and this will be determined on a first-come-first-served basis.

To book, please email: with your name, riding club, official role and the email address you want the invitation to be sent to. You will receive an email response to confirm if your booking is successful. Listed below are the scheduled clinic dates:

  • 12 August – General Q&A
  • 19 August- Marketing
  • 26 August – Safeguarding 
  • 2 September – Health & Safety
  • 9 September – Rules
  • 16 September – General Q&A
  • 23 September – Marketing 
  • 30 September – Health & Safety
  • 7 October – Safeguarding
  • 21 October – Rules

For full details including how to book on to these clinics, please use the following BRC website link and scroll down to the relevant section

Stoneleigh Horse Show 2020 cancellation

Event cancelled

It is with great regret that due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus pandemic Grandstand Media Limited, has decided to cancel this year’s Stoneleigh Horse Show scheduled to take place in August at Stoneleigh Park. 

A statement from the company said: “The provisional date for next year’s event is Friday August 13 to Sunday August 15 2021. Our priority has been, and will remain to be, the health and safety of all of those involved in the show as well as our responsibility to support everyone’s efforts to tackle the coronavirus.   

“This decision has been made alongside the announcement that Horse of the Year Show will no longer take place this year.

“The 72nd edition of HOYS will now be staged from Wednesday October 6 – Sunday October 10 2021, at the NEC Birmingham. “
Emma Williams, Grandstand Media Limited event director commented: “We are extremely disappointed to have to make this decision and it is not one that has been made without considerable thought and discussion; we have done so with the utmost concern for the wellbeing of all those involved in making Stoneleigh Horse Show happen. 

“Considering the impact of COVID-19 on the showing qualifier season we believe that this decision is inevitably the right one for all concerned. I would like to thank all those involved in Stoneleigh Horse Show, and in the wider showing community, for their understanding and patience during these undeniably challenging times. 

“Our thoughts are with those that have been, and continue to be, affected by this pandemic.”As communicated by British Showjumping on Friday June 26, there remains a commitment to deliver the National Finals and the reallocated Spring Championships at Stoneleigh Park this August.  British Showjumping will announce further information about the respective finals through their official channels in due course.

BHS warns public not to feed horses

The British Horse Society (BHS) has issued a warning to members of the public not to feed any horses they may encounter whilst out and about.

With more people taking to the countryside during the COVID-19 pandemic, the BHS has been made aware of instances where horses have been seriously injured, made extremely ill or in some cases having died due to the public feeding the horse or through actions such as leaving gates open.

Alan Hiscox, Director of Welfare at The British Horse Society said: “The BHS is urging members of the public not to feed horses in fields as this can cause serious illness and be potentially life threatening.

Horse grazing in a field Photo: John Simpson

“We believe many people act with no malicious intent and are simply unaware of the risks that certain foods or grass cuttings can pose to horses.

“We encourage horse owners to download signs the BHS has produced warning the public not to feed their horse. The greater the awareness of the issue, the more likely people are to change their behaviour in the future.”

The BHS is offering the following advice to the public:

Although feeding horses may seem harmless, it is important not to due to the following reasons:

  • Any type of food, grass cuttings or any other plants can cause horses to become extremely unwell or even kill them
  • Fighting between horses could break out and cause an injury
  • Horses may mistake your fingers for food and accidentally nip them

If you cross land with a right of way where horses are kept, the above points will be applicable but also ensure you:

  • Leave gates and property as you find them 
  • Keep to the right of way
  • Take your litter home
  • Keep your dog on a lead and bag and bin your dog’s mess
  • Give horses lots of a space and avoid coming between mothers and their young
  • If you see a horse in distress, alert the nearest farm/yard or check for a sign with owner’s detail on.

The BHS has produced signs for horse owners to place around their fields warning the public not to feed their horses. These are available for download at

Surprise addition for Eastbourne RDA group

There was a surprise for Eastbourne RDA group during the lock down for Riding for Disabled operations.

With the whole of the Riding for the Disabled operation shut down for Lockdown, it was a joyful boost to spirits when Eastbourne RDA discovered that they had a new addition to the Group on the way.

Arizona, known affectionately as Ari, newest recruit to Eastbourne RDA group
Photo Joanna Sale

One of their lovely volunteers, Helen Waters, bought a cob mare called Coco last spring.

“In the summer, we started to use her in our sessions and she was wonderful.” said Sarah Groome from the Group. ”But by December, Helen began to have a suspicion that Coco was pregnant”.

At the end of January, her suspicions were confirmed by the vet and on March 21, right near the start of Lockdown, the adorable Arizona (Ari for short) was born!

Luckily, Helen keeps Coco and Ari at a friend’s yard and she arranged for Helen to ‘self-isolate’ in the groom’s accommodation so she could be close to the new arrival.

“I believe that this is Eastbourne’s first home-bred, RDA pony” said Sarah.

RDA ponies are very special as they have to look after their riders with a calm, well behaved manner. But Ari is already proving to be a great RDA mount in the making, having passed the ‘umbrella’ test with flying colours.

In the South East there are 35 groups across Surrey, Sussex and Kent with over 2,000 riders of all ages. They come to enjoy the experience of riding, carriage driving, show jumping, dressage endurance and western style, with opportunities to learn a new skill, enter competitions or even take a holiday.

Dame Caroline Spelman joins BHS

THE Rt. Hon. Dame Caroline Spelman DBE has joined The British Horse Society (BHS) as Specialist Trustee for Policy, Campaigning and Government Relations.

She will play a pivotal role in the Society’s lobbying effort across many key causes, including the required support for the equine industry as the United Kingdom emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown.

Dame Spelman, pictured above, served as the Member of Parliament for Meriden in the West Midlands from 1997 to 2019. She has held many senior ministerial appointments including Secretary of State for Defra.

She was Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Horse for many years and championed the work of the Society across all of its charitable aims: welfare, education, safety and access.

Access is of particular interest to Caroline and one of her priorities will be working on how best to meet the challenge of the 2026 deadline for the recording of historical routes on the definitive map – which potentially threatens thousands of miles of bridleways.

Tim Lord, Chairman at The British Horse Society said: “We are seeking to expand and develop our interaction with Government at all levels in order to achieve policy changes which will benefit all equestrians.

“I am absolutely delighted that Caroline has accepted this specialist position and her experience, expertise and passion for horses will bring many benefits to the Society, our members and the wider equine community.”

Caroline Spelman added: “I’m honoured to be asked to join The BHS as a Trustee as I’m a huge fan of its work; being a keen rider I have reason to be grateful for its excellent advice and effective campaigning.”

Caroline and her daughter are both keen equestrians and members of British Riding Clubs, which is run by The BHS.

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 equestrian routes, and safety for horse and riders.

The Society’s thriving and active community of staff and volunteers are committed to improving the lives of horses everywhere.

BHS to host virtual Windsor Tea Party

The British Horse Society (BHS) is hosting a Virtual Windsor Tea Party on Thursday May 14 at 15:30, with the stars of the Royal Windsor Horse Show, including Katie and Chris Jerram-Hunnable, Richard Waygood MBE, Richard Davison, Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and BHS President Martin Clunes.

The hour-long virtual event, hosted by Martin Clunes and Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes, will feature fascinating interviews and insights from top names associated with the show.

Martin Clunes : Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Other highlights will include talks with Captain Sean Nicholls, Riding Master of the Household Cavalry on what it takes to put together the spectacle that is the Musical Ride. Richard Waygood MBE and Richard Davison will also be sharing their highlights of Royal Windsor, what to look for in an equestrian superstar and their memories of the 2012 London Olympics.

Katie and Chris Jerram-Hunnable will be talking about what Royal Windsor means to them, their greatest memories from the show and what it is like to ride Her Majesty The Queen’s horse.

In addition, there will be an opportunity to find out from the BHS Welfare Team about how to spot the subtle signs of laminitis, hear about how the BHS is supporting riding schools through the pandemic, as well as virtual presentations by Martin Clunes for the BHS Long Service Awards recipients.

The event is open to all and free of charge. Full details, including timetable and how to register is available at

Registration closes at noon on Wednesday May 13 2020.

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 equestrian routes, and safety for horse and riders. The Society’s thriving and active community of staff and volunteers are committed to improving the lives of horses everywhere.

RDA group wins coveted Jubilee saddle

Cobbes Meadow Riding for the Disabled Group near Canterbury in Kent has won the much-coveted, tailor-made Jubilee Saddle that is offered each year by the Worshipful Company of Saddlers for the RDA nationally.

The saddle will be made for Ralph, who is particularly ‘wide-girthed’ and has recently joined the Group from France.

The Saddlers instigated the annual and very generous gift during the RDA’s Silver Jubilee in 1994 and committed to providing 18 tailor-made saddles – one each year to cover a saddle for each region.

When the commitment had been fulfilled in 2012, they offered to continue their sponsorship indefinitely. This has allowed a different region each year to have the good fortune of selecting the right RDA horse or pony who would benefit most from such a precious gift. Nominations are made and votes taken.

French Breton heavy horse Ralph, a gentle giant, is a great hit with RDA riders.
Photo: Joanna Sale

Ralph, a handsome French Breton heavy horse, arrived at Cobbes Meadow last summer and has proved to be a great hit with the RDA riders. He is a gentle giant and despite huge hooves, he is very careful to keep them away from vulnerable toes. He is wonderfully suited to the heavier RDA riders and is already a “really valuable member of the Cobbes Meadow team”.

Carole Mounce, RDA’s Kent County Chair said “As we all know each and every RDA horse is very special so the Cobbes Meadow Group were delighted to win the chance to have a beautiful bespoke saddle made for a wonderful horse who needs a very specific type of tack.

“This comes when all RDA groups are doing their very best to keep things running as smoothly as possible at a difficult time. Each group is a charity so they rely totally on fundraising to keep their horses fed, watered, happy and healthy. This wonderful gift will allow Ralph and his riders to have many hours of fun and exercise in comfort”.

There are 35 RDA groups across Surrey, Sussex and Kent with more than 2,000 riders of all ages. They enjoy the experience of riding, carriage driving, show jumping, dressage endurance and western style, with opportunities to learn a new skill, enter competitions or even take a holiday.

This can bring a new dimension to necessarily restricted lives, encourage independence and does much to improve a wide range of medical conditions.

RDA has the commitment of more than 1,000 volunteers who regularly and cheerfully give up their free time. Instructors work closely with physiotherapists and other health professionals to encourage every individual to aim for attainable goals – some modest, others far more ambitious.

Hunt helps ponies return to farm

Bill Bishop, huntsman of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt returns the ponies Imogene and Bella back to the farm recently.

Heartfelt thanks have gone to Bill Bishop, huntsman of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt, from Vauxhall City Farm, for transporting Imogene and Bella back to the farm recently.

Thanks have also gone to the Countryside Alliance for arranging free grazing for the farm’s other horses at a home of a supporter, and for committing to arrange the transport to facilitate their return to Vauxhall City Farm, when it will be possible to do so. 

A spokesperson for the farm added: “The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has had a devastating effect on the farm. I would like to thank the Countryside Alliance and the hunting community for their generosity in helping us to transport the horses to their new residence for the foreseeable future.

“This type of support means a lot to us and we are very grateful that you were able to help us in this way.” said VCF chief executive, Monica Tyler.

BHS launches Approved Centre Hardship Fund

The UK’s largest equestrian charity, The British Horse Society (BHS), has launched its BHS Approved Centre Hardship Fund, to help support riding schools affiliated to the charity through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund, launched this month, is specifically aimed at BHS Approved Riding Schools which have been financially impacted due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the fund is designed to support any costs which go towards the health and wellbeing of the horses and ponies under their care.  

James Hick, Chief Executive Officer at The British Horse Society: “The Coronavirus pandemic has caused immense difficulties for many areas across the equestrian industry and riding schools have been hit. particularly hard. 

“Their income stopped on March 23, but the need to look after the wellbeing of horses continues at high cost.  The welfare of horses is at the heart of everything the BHS does, and we are working incredibly hard to help support our Approved Ridings Schools through these unsettling times.

“We hope that this Hardship Fund will help alleviate some of the financial strain riding schools are currently facing, whilst also serving to protect the health and wellbeing of the horses and ponies under their care.”

Grants from the fund will be allocated based on a payment of £750 per BHS Approved Riding School. The fund has been made available from several sources, including generous contributions from BHS National, Regional and County Committees, all of whom work closely with BHS Approved Riding Centres.

The British Horse Society has also been able to access a number of their restricted funds, held aside for welfare specific purposes.

Additionally, the BHS has waived all Approved Centre membership fees for the next 12 months and will be launching a donations appeal in the coming weeks to help provide further support.

All BHS Approved Riding Schools will have been contacted with details on how to apply for the funding. If a centre has not received communication then it is recommended they contact the BHS Approvals team or call 024768 40500.

Furthermore, the BHS continues to update its COVID-19 hub with information for all horse owners and the BHS Helpline, 02476 840517 is also available Monday through to Sunday, from 08:35 – 17:00 and can offer advice and support for those that need it.

Equine Hospital acted promptly in current virus crisis


AS soon as the Sussex Equine Hospital and vets in Billingshurst Road, Ashington, West Sussex, knew the country was facing an epidemic ,the directors had a meeting to work out how they were going to protect its dedicated staff, writes John Periam.

Senior vet Rob Van Pelt explained: “When we built the hospital we put in an internet-based system, so all the reception team picked up their telephones and computers and went home to work from there.

“Initially we were getting rather wishy-washy instructions from our professional bodies – the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Equine Veterinary Association.

Gates closed at Sussex Equine Hospital as part of security measures against virus Photo: John Periam

“Each case was assessed individually: was it a true emergency, and then how could we minimise risk to the veterinary surgeon attending?

“However, the situation was changing on a day-to-day basis, they would publish guidelines in the morning and these would be out of date in the afternoon.

The latter was done by asking the owner questions about their current health issues, and asking them to think of ways to avoid the vet being contaminated. As the country went into full lockdown, and we were doing emergencies only, we had to make some tough decisions in order to save the practice as a whole.

“At the beginning of March we had twenty horses in the hospital, and the end of March we had just two. I have been a vet for 35 years and I will always remember March 27, 2020, as being the saddest day of my career.

“This was the day we had to furlough 29 staff members. Some of those people I have worked with 25 years plus – they aren’t just employees, they are close friends. Ironically they were so understanding, yet there were a few tears shed.

“Many responded by saying ‘if you get stuck I am happy to muck out’ or they offered kind words of encouragement by saying ‘we will come back stronger for this’.

The practice continues to provide a service using a selected team who could cover all potential problems, including emergency surgery.

Rob added: “Yes, there have been situations where I have been disappointed with some clients’ attitude to the global crisis. We had a few who were phoning around to see who would vaccinate their horse, or investigate their horse’s lameness which had been ongoing for three weeks.

“I am glad to say that all our local practices have abided by the rules and showed solidarity. One person phoned in saying that they had the virus so was at no risk to anyone, so couldn’t see why we were reluctant for them to come and see their horse’s sarcoid.

” I explained that until either a test is developed that can prove that she isn’t a potential risk or the rules of social distancing were lifted, I was unable to do so.

“In conclusion I would like to say that currently we are doing our best for our staff, our clients, our equine patients and humanity. Despite political or religious beliefs we are all in this together. I hope that we can control the spread of the virus to lessen the impact.

” I guess it is not until your loved ones, either in the hospital or even worse that the reality of the crisis hits home.

“Our business will survive and I look forward to the day when everyone returns to work. The welfare of the horse has been and will be what we at the Sussex Equine Hospital have strived for over many years!”