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.

Goodwood racecourse has cancelled its three Friday night music events planned for June this year

Goodwood Racecourse has announced that, following guidance from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), it is not able to run Its Three Friday Nights events as planned in 2020.

Sigma performing at a previous Goodwood Friday event Photo: Matt Ankers

In a statement, Goodwood said: “We are however pleased to announce that Sub Focus will now play on Friday 28 August, during our Bank Holiday Weekend fixture and Carl Cox is confirmed to play at next year’s Three Friday Nights, on  June 4 2021. ”

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.

French racing restart behind closed doors

RACING in France is set to resume on Monday behind closed doors as a restart to action in Britain edges nearer.

The sport has been suspended in both jurisdictions since March 17 but police have given permission for racing to take place at Paris Longchamp track.

Edouard de Rothschild, president of governing body France Galop, has said the authorisation was “very good news”.

British racing is planning for a resumption this month, including 16 Group races on successive weekends.

British Horse Racing Authority has said that action can start within a week of any go-ahead from the government.

Horse racing action could resume in Britain
Photo: Jeannie Knight

Racing has continued without spectators, and with social-distancing protocols, at some tracks in the United States, Australia and Hong Kong.

Last year’s French Derby winner Sottsass is set to run in Paris for the first time since finishing third behind Waldgeist and Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in October.

The unbeaten Victor Ludorum, favourite for the French 2,000 Guineas, could be among other runners at the meeting.

“We have had some strong support from the ministers in charge of racing – the ministers for finance and agriculture so it was more a question of local areas allowing us to proceed,” said France Galop chief executive Olivier Delloye.

“We have explained in close detail how we will race behind closed doors and we have had positive feedback from them.”

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.

Hickstead 2020 international fixtures cancelled

Directors of the All England Jumping Course have released an official statement below regarding the cancellation of both Hickstead international fixtures in 2020.
The All England Jumping course at Hickstead Photo:: Craig Payne

“Following further government advice, it is with regret that we have had to make the difficult decision to cancel both of our international events for this year.

“These are the Al Shira’aa Hickstead Derby Meeting originally scheduled for June 24-28, and the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ at the Longines Royal International Horse Show from 21-26 July. 

“At this time, the health of our staff, competitors, officials, sponsors, trade exhibitors and visiting public is our top priority.

“We are currently working with the relevant showing societies to ensure that qualification where possible will be carried over to the 2021 Longines Royal International Horse Show.  

“The Hickstead office remains closed but all stakeholders will be contacted directly by email and will receive a refund as per our terms and conditions in due course. Competition prizes and gift vouchers will be valid for the corresponding day next year.

“It is still our intention to run our four-day national show, the Science Supplements All England Jumping Championships, from 3 – 6 September.

“We wish to thank all of our partners and stakeholders for their continued support during these unprecedented times.  We look forward to welcoming you back to Hickstead in the future.

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!”