A horse lover from the New Forest spent 24 hours straight in the saddle on Wednesday 6 August to raise money for The British Horse Society’s latest equine welfare appeal.
Hannah Marsh, Regional Development Officer in the South for The British Horse Society, the UK’s largest equestrian charity, and, as a horse owner and keen rider herself, wanted to do something to raise funds for the charity’s latest appeal.
“I have loved horses my whole life, and working for the BHS gives me the opportunity to help improve equine welfare as part of my job. When I heard about the latest welfare appeal, I wanted to do something extra specifically to raise money and boost the profile of the appeal.
"Britain is in the grip of a huge equine welfare crisis, with decades of indiscriminate breeding meaning supply is outweighing demand and the value of horses is declining.
"Unfortunately, that means that some people see buying a horse as a cheaper option than taking lessons in riding and horse care at a licensed riding school, and so many horses are ending up in homes without the knowledge and experience to look after their needs.
"Many of the welfare cases our officers see aren’t caused by wilful abuse, but are neglected through ignorance and a lack of understanding of their basic needs. Our new appeal aims to tackle equine welfare head on.”
Hannah’s 24-Hour Challenge Ride, which took place at Quob Stables, a BHS Approved Riding School near Southampton, kicked off at 10am with a hack in the countryside on her own horse.
After that, she rode a succession of friends’ and family's New Forest ponies and some of Quob’s horses, taking part in a variety of horse sports.
“It was exhausting, but such fun. I tried Horseball – which is a cross between rugby and polo – with a team that trains regularly at Quob.
I also had a go at Mounted Games with the Quob Stables Pony Club, which was fantastic, even though I fell off at high speed!”
In the evening, several hundred equine enthusiasts descended on the centre to enjoy a BHS Open Evening, which showcased more equestrian sports with a whole host of fun displays.
The BHS had such great support, with brilliant displays including side-saddle, dressage to music, Western courtesy of locally-based European medallist Tammy Greaves, showjumping with local trainer David Thomas, and a carriage driving scurry competition.
Generous public support on the night and through online donations, along with sponsorship from local businesses Meadowlea Saddlery and Celtic Equine Vets, saw the fundraising total just top £2,000.
Hannah rode through the night in the indoor school, and finally dismounted from her final horse at noon the next day (having paused the timer for horse changeovers during the 24 hours!).
“It was a really tough challenge, but I am delighted to have raised such a total, it will make a real difference.
I’d like to thank everyone who supported the challenge and am especially grateful to all the participants and volunteers who made the BHS Open Evening such a fun night!”
To sponsor Hannah and show your support for her marathon challenge, please visit justgiving.com/hannahs24hourride.