Outstanding contributions in the field of equestrian safety were recognised at The British Horse Society’s Sefton Awards, held at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment's Barracks, Knightsbridge, London.
The awards were set up by the Society in 1984 as a legacy to Sefton, the Household Cavalry horse who survived the IRA bombings in London in 1982. Sefton was 19 years old at the time of the bombings. He underwent eight hours of surgery and became a household name.
This year there were three recipients of the honour, Nicki Whittaker, Graeme Baxter and Shirley Nixon.
After hearing reports of a mare having to be destroyed after she fell through the rotten floor of a trailer, Nicki Whittaker, an Equine Specialist at NFU Mutual decided specific education was needed for drivers transporting their horses. Nicki approached the BHS, and so evolved a relationship between the BHS and NFU Mutual which has provided crucial advice for countless horse owners and equine students.
In 2012 a series of events took place across the UK where NFU Mutual and the BHS worked together weighing vehicles arriving at a variety of equine events and providing a series of transport training days. These valuable sessions have also expanded into colleges where students receive specific training on transporting horses safely.
On receiving her award Nicki said: “I am honoured to receive this award, it means a lot; however, without the help of The British Horse Society working with NFU Mutual, none of this would have been possible.
“This whole campaign came about after a horrible accident where my daughter’s friend’s horse went though the floor of the trailer and had to be put to sleep. From that day onward I’ve just been passionate about educating people about the dangers of transporting their horses, so I look forward to that work continuing with the help of the BHS.”
The second recipient, Graeme Baxter, has also played a pivotal role in improving the safety of horses in transit. After taking early retirement from his role at VOSA working with equine transport, Graeme has freely given his time and knowledge to help educate drivers. He has been an intrinsic part of the BHS /NFU Mutual team in disseminating information to all drivers of equine transport and has generously shared his passion with those who have attended the transport days at colleges and elsewhere.
Graeme said: “I’m just over the moon to have received this award and to be able to make horses’ travelling lives safer, that’s what we want to do.”
The final recipient for 2012 was Shirley Nixon. When Shirley, a non-horse owner, witnessed a young driver from her local school roaring down the road, terrifying a horse and rider she did not hesitate to help. Through her perseverance and determination she was able to work together with the local community to ensure local riders are now able to ride during the day without running the gauntlet of young drivers who saw upsetting them as ‘good sport’. Far more than a one-day wonder, Shirley continues to promote the BHS and safer driving around horses.