Along with the Equine Grass Sickness Fund and the Animal Health Trust, The British Horse Society is supporting pilot tests of a new vaccine which could eradicate this condition forever, but for this we needed to raise money for a full clinical trial.
Every BHS region is running various events and in some counties where there were groups who were organising the Fabulous Fives EGS Awareness Rides we joined forces. The idea to run a series of rides all around the UK and all taking place on two weekends in May, came from a group of people who had all been directly affected by this devastating disease and hatched the plan through their Facebook page to commemorate the lives lost to EGS and to celebrate the survivors.
The ride starting at Creswell Crags in Derbyshire was masterminded by Andrea Jones who was one of the ‘Fabulous Fives’ group and is also the proprietor of ‘Hoofs, Paws and Claws’ in Hasland; Sharon Tolley proprietor of the Coloured Cob Equestrian Centre in Creswell, who kindly offered her premises as the start of the ride; Ruth Dodd, BHS East Midlands Regional/Derbyshire Vice-Chairman and Margaret Hewitt who has a wealth of experience when it comes to organising pleasure rides.
When their ideas started to become reality they had no idea how big or how successful it would ultimately be, but quite a lot of riders had booked beforehand, so they were quietly confident.
However on the day it was rather wet and a few riders dropped out; but these were soon replaced by many more and eventually, despite stormy skies, the sun came out and 126 riders completed one or other of the 6 or 14 mile routes available.
The guest of honour was Bertie - a local survivor of Equine Grass Sickness. Bertie, is a Shire cross piebald and was only 4 years old when he was struck down with the chronic form of Grass Sickness. It took perseverance and diligent nursing from his owner Sue Giles, but happily two years later he has now made a full recovery.
Before his illness had had been shown in hand, had just been backed and was ready to start being ridden. He is now a strapping 16:3hh 6 year old and this was his first time out with Sue on board since his recovery and his first ever outing in the company of other horses - so truly a memorable occasion for the pair and you could tell that Bertie, who was wearing his own special sash, was having a great time!
What is also incredible is the fact that Sue collected £860 in sponsorship bringing the total raised in Derbyshire to an incredible £2,818.77. Sue was the clear winner of the jacket donated by Dengie for the rider collecting the highest total of sponsorship money for the cause.
Other EGSF events taking place around the East Midlands are a pleasure rides at Mareham on the Hill in in North Lincolnshire on 14 September; a pleasure ride around Graham Water on the Cambridgeshire border on 20 September organised by BHS Northamptonshire.
We also have collecting tins on the BHS trade stand if you see us at a show and would like to support the appeal.
To find out more about this disease or donate online: