Equestrians Invited To Free, Charity-Led Welfare Awareness Events

Following on from the amazing success of last year’s events Bransby Horses are once again hosting a series of talks for horse owners covering the latest equine management topics, such as track systems and alternative grazing set-ups.

These events are completely free and aimed at horse owners, equestrian business owners and land proprietors.

Bransby Horses has been rescuing and caring for equines in need for over 50 years and their Make a Difference events offer an opportunity for anyone interested to hear from the charity’s experienced teams, as part of their ongoing mission to positively impact the lives of equines.

Events organiser Rachel Dixon said: “We started these events last year and they were really popular, so we thought we’d do another series. For anyone who attended last year, we have new material and guest speakers so please come along, as we have a wealth of useful information we would love to share with you.

“A highlight will be at the talk in April when our guest speaker is Dr Tamzin Furtado who will be hosting her Alternative Grazing talk. Dr Furtado is a social scientist from the University of Liverpool, specialising in equine welfare and human behaviour change. Dr Furtado recently completed a PhD in managing obesity in horses, where she focused on the welfare of the horse and their relationship with humans. We are really lucky to have her visit us at Bransby Horses and can’t wait to hear her talk.”

The next event is Alternative Grazing Systems on Thursday, April 25 at 6.30 pm, followed by Grassland Management on Wednesday, July 17 at 11 am and Equine Identification and Registration on Thursday, September 5 at 6.30 pm.

All events are free to attend and will be held in the Clifford Marshall Building at Bransby Horses in Bransby near Lincoln.

Booking is essential, light refreshments and free parking will be available.

For more information or to reserve your free space, please call 01427 788 464 or visit BransbyHorses.co.uk/MADE

NEWC Director, Kirsty Withnall, was announced as joint winner of the Sir Colin Spedding Award at the National Equine Forum (NEF) on 7th March 2024.

Kirsty was recognised for her tireless determination as an RSPCA Case Officer, bringing to justice those responsible for causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Joint winner, Amanda Stoddart-West, was acknowledged for her pioneering work to enhance equine wellbeing as a Coordinator at the Great Yorkshire Show. In addition, Anne Dicker, Managing Partner of the Catherston Stud, was highly commended as an Award finalist for her work in helping to unite the equine sector. The Awards were presented by HRH The Princess Royal, President of NEF.

Kirsty has been an RSPCA Inspector for 23 years, initially as an Equine Officer, before becoming a Case Officer within the RSPCA’s Special Operations Unit (SOU). She provides an overt uniformed response on behalf of SOU and conducts specialist criminal investigations into serious, organised or commercial animal cruelty.

Kirsty has been the lead officer in numerous large, complex, high-profile equine and multi-animal welfare cases. She continues to show great tenacity and perseverance in bringing to justice those responsible for causing unnecessary suffering to animals. Most notably, she has been the linchpin in many large-scale operations, where coordination and cooperation with numerous agencies have been vital in securing safe and efficient rescue for equines and other animals. Her diligent collection and collation of evidential material has led to successful prosecutions and the reduction of future cruelty.

Kirsty said: “I am honoured and absolutely delighted to receive this extremely prestigious award. Through my 23 years working for the RSPCA, I know first-hand how rewarding but also extremely challenging the role can be, so it truly means a great deal to have my work recognised in this way.

“I’ve been incredibly lucky to work alongside some outstanding colleagues at the RSPCA, but also with support from other agencies and organisations such as the police, veterinary teams, local authorities and of course members of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) – and I believe this award belongs to all of them, too. Together we have achieved incredible results through our joint efforts to protect animal welfare and will for many years to come.”

Amanda Stoddart-West is Livestock and Entries Coordinator for the Great Yorkshire Show (GYS). She has pioneered work to support appropriate rider-to-horse weight ratios and other initiatives to enhance equine welfare at GYS. Progress includes changes to warm-up rules, raised participation age levels for foals, adherence to rules on sensory functions and the introduction of welfare stewards. In the event of any welfare advances being challenged, Amanda has remained firm in her application of the principles, and because of her efforts, these are now being widely adopted across other shows. Most recently Amanda has worked with Equifest to award special prizes for the most harmonious horse and rider combinations to support positive change.

“To be honest, I was totally shocked to be told that I had been nominated for the Sir Colin Spedding Award, and incredibly honoured to be a joint winner of such a revered honour. There are great efforts going into ensuring the highest standards of animal welfare nationally, and this award is a reflection of all of those who are doing such excellent work in this area.

“Personally, I couldn’t have achieved any of what I have without the support of my employers the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, and the Great Yorkshire Show’s Vet, Julian Rishworth who I have been very fortunate to work alongside for the last 21 years.

“There have been times when we have been met with resistance to change but with the support of like-minded people within the industry, and thanks to my good friends, and long-suffering husband and family, hopefully we have made a difference to welfare standards within the showing world”.

Anne Dicker was highly commended for her support of initiatives to bring the equine sector together, both as an individual and through the Catherston Stud. She has contributed to advancing equine groom apprenticeships, training fire responders, developing digital equine ID policy, and research to further the principles of The Happy Equine Athlete. She has also supported the Futurity for many years.

Sir Colin Spedding was the founding chairman of the NEF and chaired the event for 20 years until his death in 2012. He ensured that representatives of all areas of the equine sphere were made welcome to the Forum, and that topics of general interest and concern could be discussed openly and amicably. The award was introduced in 2013, in his memory. It is presented annually to an exceptional unsung hero or heroine of the equestrian world. Any individual or organisation from any equestrian field in the UK is eligible, as long as their outstanding qualities have not been formally acknowledged elsewhere prior to the closing date of nominations. Find out more, here.

NEWC is delighted to welcome Hartpury University as a new member!

Hartpury University's Equine Campus is renowned for its top-tier equestrian education and facilities. Offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses in equine science, management, sports science, therapy, and rehabilitation, the campus emphasises practical experience and hands-on learning.

With state-of-the-art facilities, strong industry links, and research opportunities, students gain comprehensive skills and knowledge preparing them for successful careers in the equine industry.

Find out more here hartpury.ac.uk/university/

NEWC is thrilled to welcome Moreton Morrell College as a new member.

Moreton Morrell offers a range of FE and HE equine courses in equine management, science, performance, and business, with accreditation ensuring graduates meet industry standards.

The campus has strong industry connections, providing opportunities for internships and networking with a strong emphasis on developing hands-on practical skills alongside theoretical knowledge.

Find out more here.

Exciting New and Inspirational Show Society launching in 2024

A new, exciting and inspirational Showing Society is launching in 2024 – the Rescue Equine Showing Society (RESS) will have its official launch event at Equifest on Saturday 3rd August 2024.  Due to there being a lot of interest and enthusiasm already, there are already several shows coming on board and running qualifiers for the RESS Rescue Horse / Pony of the Year Championship, which will be part of the launch event. 

The ethos behind RESS is to encourage people to consider taking on a rescued equine and to showcase that even those horses and ponies that have been subjected to the worst cruelty and neglect can go on to lead happy, healthy and active lives and excel in many equine disciplines. 

‘We want RESS to allow these rescues to shine and to demonstrate how successful they can be’ says Cathy Hyde, founder and Chair of RESS, and ‘we also want to highlight the work of the rescuers and those that take on the task of rehabilitating the equines that have been subjected to cruelty and neglect.  Ideally it will also encourage people to consider adopting from the equine charities – for every equine that is rehomed, this makes space in rescue for another to be brought in to a rescue charity where it can undergo rehabilitation and go on to find kind and loving homes’.

RESS has been a long time in the planning for Founder and Chairman, Cathy Hyde. Cathy has worked in frontline animal welfare since 2001 when she joined the RSPCA Inspectorate Training School.  During her time at the RSPCA, Cathy dealt with some of the worst cases of cruelty and neglect, and having been promoted to Chief Inspector she also took on the additional role of Lead Inspectorate Equine Officer – deploying a team of dedicated equine officers to various events and investigations specifically involving equines. 

At one meeting where the discussion was focused on the increasing equine crisis and the need to encourage people to consider rehoming a rescued equine, an RSPCA Equine Rehoming Officer at the time, Sally Learoyd, came up with the idea of running competitions specifically for rescued equines.  Sally suggested that with Cathy’s involvement in Showing perhaps this was something she was prepared to take on. Cathy immediately thought that Equifest, held at the East of England Showground, Peterborough, would be the ideal platform for these classes, as she says ‘I had had the pleasure of Judging at Equifest on a couple of occasions and the Show seemed to be the perfect event for these classes.' 

In 2011 Cathy contacted Betsy at Equifest and was invited to meet the Committee and proposed to introduce these classes at the 2012 Show.  At the time, Jon Phillips was the Chairman of Equifest and when the pitch was made, he immediately offered to sponsor the classes, which was very welcomed.  It was also agreed that the RSPCA would bring some ponies to the Show to highlight the work done to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome the most neglected and abused animals.  With just two classes to begin with, an Open In-Hand and an Open Ridden Class they proved a great success and several of the ponies taken to Equifest by the RSPCA also found new homes.  Over the next few years, the Classes grew in number and popularity.

Past winner - before
Past winner - after

Due to the amazing response to the Rescue Classes and Rescue Village, Cathy, with the invaluable support of the Equifest team, opened it up to the other leading Equine Charities and again it proved a great success.  Without the assistance of Equifest, in supporting both the Rescue Classes and hosting the Rescue Village, there would not be such a positive opportunity for the equine charities to highlight their work and achievements in equine welfare.  Equifest provides the perfect opportunity to showcase the amazing work that the equine charities do, in rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming the most damaged rescue horses and ponies. 

Sadly, Covid stopped all the shows, and this coupled with the sale of the East of England Showground, made everything uncertain.  However, with the move to Arena UK in 2023, Equifest was up and running again.

RESS has been a long-held dream for Cathy, and it has only been since she has found the right group of like-minded and passionate people to form a committee, that the Society has been formed.  RESS is honoured to have Carey Knox as President of the Society, Carey says ‘When asked whether I would consider being President of the new association for the Rescue Horses and Ponies, I didn’t hesitate. Through the first-hand experience of seeing and reading horrific stories, I really want to help highlight what has and is going on, bring it to the forefront, and also encourage people to look into perhaps owning and loving a rescue horse or pony.' 

In 2024, in conjunction with Equifest and with generous sponsorship from NEDZ Beds, we are reintroducing the Rescue Village with leading equine charities bringing horses and ponies to the Show.  Lisa Cooper from NEDZ says ‘here at NEDZ we are proud to support RESS and are delighted to have been involved from the very beginning. Having had previous involvement in supporting the Rescue Village, the back stories of these horses and ponies are sometimes truly harrowing, and to see the transformation in them with the right care, turning them into the stars they really are, is nothing short of amazing!  To have a platform to show off these horses and ponies and the hard work that has been done is just brilliant!’.

RESS is also very grateful to Luke Rees at Hand Tailored Rosettes who has very kindly provided rosettes for all of the Qualifying Shows for 2024. Luke says ‘ all of us at HT Rosettes are delighted and privileged to be supporting RESS.  RESS promotes horse welfare and it is at the heart of all that they aim to do – showing that with the right love and care these rescue horses and ponies are nurtured and thrive which deserves to be celebrated.  We are a family-run business located in the heart of Wales and we are very proud to be supporting RESS and wish them every success and we look forward to working alongside them as the Society continues to grow’.

In the long term, RESS aims to provide a platform to showcase how rescued equines can go on to lead healthy and successful lives and to promote rehoming from the leading equine charities.  RESS will also be looking at providing training and bursaries for members from 2025, and a series of competitions culminating in the Championships at Equifest.  No membership is required for 2024 or affiliation fees for shows wanting to run classes as we want to encourage people to have a go and experience what the classes offer.  All the information required can be found on the RESS website.

Contact Details:

RESS Website:  rescueequineshowingsociety.com and our Facebook page.

For more information contact Cathy: rescueequineshowingsociety@outlook.com or telephone 07860 885752

For Show Affiliation Enquiries contact Debbie:  admin@rescueequineshowingsociety.com  or telephone 07561 260011

Qualifying Shows (to date):

  Date:    Show:
16th & 17th March 2024UK Horses & Ponies Spring Show, Olney
1st April 2024North East Extravaganza
18th May 2024Selston Equestrian Centre
25th May 2024Hambleton District Show
30th May 2024Royal Bath and West
14th June 2024Three Counties
19th June 2024Royal Cheshire Show
26th June 2024Royal Norfolk Show
6th July 2024Durham County
9th July 2024Great Yorkshire Show
13th July 2024Bridgend Country Show
25th July 2024Equine Sports UK Grassroots Championships
10th August 2024Llandi Agricultural Society
13th August 2024NCPA Leicester and Rutland
14th September 2024Usk Show

We are delighted to welcome Strength & Learning Through Horses as a new member of NEWC.

Strength & Learning Through Horses promotes the mental well-being and education (including social and physical training) of people who are not in education or training (NEETS), those at risk of becoming NEET and people with learning difficulties.

They provide equine-assisted therapy, education and other equestrian-related programmes to promote the positive mental health and well-being of children, young people and adults.

Find out more about their work here: strengthandlearningthroughhorses.org/

Animal welfare organisations are calling on horse keepers around the UK to help them assess the effects of the ongoing cost of living crisis. By taking part in a short, free SURVEY, launched today (16 January) anyone who cares for horses will be able to contribute to an understanding of how increased costs are affecting their ability to care for their animals. This information will feed into the development of targeted support for those most in need and help prevent welfare issues from arising.

Rebecca Boulert, Education Officer at World Horse Welfare, the equine charity coordinating this year’s research said “For those of us at the coalface of dealing with cases where individuals are unable to care for their horses because they cannot meet their needs financially, it is imperative for us to understand if the situation has worsened for horse owners and keepers over the past 12 months? We know from last year’s research that many owners were just about coping, and all possible cost savings had already been made, but that left little room for a further squeeze on purses. This year’s follow-on survey aims to show whether things have stabilised, improved or deteriorated, allowing us to plan and act accordingly. We really hope as many horse owners as possible engage with the research and complete the survey, regardless of whether or not they were involved in last year’s project.”

The 2023 survey had around 8,000 responses, a summary of which can be found HERE and the organisers of the follow-up research, all members of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) hope that a similar number will participate this year.  The 2024 survey was developed by World Horse Welfare with support from NEWC partner organisations RedwingsBlue CrossThe British Horse SocietyBransby Horses and Oak Tree Animals Charity.

A tailored version of the survey targeting charities and other equestrian rescue centres will run concurrently to find out how the continuing cost of living crisis is affecting these types of organisations. Those involved will be contacted directly by NEWC and asked to take part. The survey link for welfare establishments can be accessed, here.


The anonymised results will be made publicly available to highlight any challenges and concerns that horse owners are facing and their potential impact on equine welfare.

The results will be shared with the UK Government, Devolved Administrations, and local authorities to help inform their understanding of the situation as well as policy decisions, including potential financial support to those most in need.

Josh Eustace, an MSc student of International Animal Welfare Law and Ethics (IAWEL) has launched an online survey through The University of Edinburgh for his dissertation aimed at horse owners/loaners, employees or managers/owners of yards who have experienced at least one case of strangles since January 2020. 

Strangles is the most common infectious disease in equids in the UK, with about 300 outbreaks occurring each year. Alongside presenting a major welfare concern to infected animals, outbreaks often cause serious stress to their owners and others involved in their care, while also representing significant economic challenges to those running businesses reliant on healthy yards and horses. Redwings has been campaigning on the issue for years and you can read more about it in their dedicated strangles hub.

Taking 10-15 minutes of your time to fill out this survey (link below) will help us to identify common factors associated with outbreaks. This will provide all of us involved with equids with up-to-date information on how best to avoid strangles spreading between yards going forward, in practical and achievable ways. 

Take the survey here: app.onlinesurveys.jisc.ac.uk/s/edinburgh/survey-of-owners-who-have-experienced-a-strangles-outbreak

This survey has been designed under the supervision of Dr Richard Newton from Equine Infectious Disease Surveillance (EIDS), Dr Scott Pirie and Dr Marie Rowland from The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, along with the help and support from Helen Whitelegg, Policy and Research Officer at Redwings. 

Equestrians are invited to share their views about how to determine rider suitability with horses or ponies.

The Suitably Mounted Group (SMG) is pleased to announce the launch today of an important survey about the factors that should be considered when matching riders with horses or ponies. 

What constitutes a suitable match between horses and riders has become a much-debated topic in recent years, and this was the inspiration for establishing the Suitably Mounted Group. 

Dr Tamzin Furtado, one of SMG’s founders, has highlighted previously that although the focus often falls on rider weight, many other factors may need to be taken into account when determining rider suitability, including equine conformation, condition, and fitness.

Now SMG’s Research Working Group, comprising Dr David Marlin, Dr Jane Williams and Lorna Cameron, has devised a short online survey to capture the views of equestrians on which factors are the most important to consider when aiming to match riders with horses.

Dr David Marlin explains: “It’s important that we try to understand what riders, officials, vets, and anyone involved in equestrianism, thinks about how to suitably match horses and riders to support horse welfare. The results of this survey will be shared in the public domain, and this information will inform future research, guidelines and education.”

The survey, which can be completed online here, is anonymous, consists of 14 questions, and is open to any equestrians over 18. It should take around 8 minutes to complete. 

When completing the survey, participants are asked to consider each of the factors in isolation. For example, where the survey asks about horse age, the question should be considered on its own and not with other factors, such as health, back strength, rider height, etc. In the future, the group aims to look at scenarios where numerous factors may need to be considered for research. For now, however, this objective falls outside the scope of the current survey. 

Click here to take the survey!

For over two decades, the RSPCA (England & Wales) has campaigned for changes in fireworks legislation. In 2018, they launched the 'Bang Out of Order' report, shedding light on the distressing impact of fireworks on animals. Shockingly, 92% of respondents shared that they received no prior warning of fireworks in their area during the season.

Today, along with Redwings Horse Sanctuary, they have published a video calling for crucial changes:

  1. Limiting fireworks use and sale from Oct 29th to Nov 5th.
  2. Establishing firework control zones to protect animals and wildlife habitats.
  3. Introducing quieter fireworks, reducing noise from 120 to 90 decibels.


Join us in urging policymakers to make a difference:
- Email your MP: rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/fireworks
- Share details of your equine's distressing experiences: rspca.org.uk/getinvolved/campaign/fireworks/survey

Together, let's make fireworks season safer and more considerate for our animals!

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