Spare a thought for riding schools struggling in lockdown


By Charlotte Williams

After reading about the struggles of the nation’s riding schools in a well-known equine magazine, I thought I would call Alison of Pevlings Riding School in the aptly named Horsington, who I last spoke to in November.

Alison told me that although the first lockdown had been tough, the better weather had made life more bearable. This time around things at the riding school are even tougher. Income has dropped and the riding school is operating with a handful of staff to care for the horses, who still need bedding, food, hay and sundries.

But fortunately, Alison told me about the kindness of many. Alison’s horse feed is supplied by a company called Dengie, who have very generously donated bags of feed for the horses of which Alison said was an extremely kind and welcome gesture.

Any extra help, no matter how small, is very much appreciated at the moment, especially as costs always escalate at this time of year, with large amounts of hay, feed and bedding required, not to mention the ongoing cost of shoeing, worming and veterinary care.
And the weather has been grim. Anyone who works outdoors knows that this time of year is particularly hard, you are either frozen solid or soaked to the skin.

It is hard for the horses too. As there are no lessons, many of Alison’s horses are lacking their regular amount of work, which in the drier summer months is not such a problem, but with all the rain the fields are at saturation point, and many horses are unable to be turned out, which has become a real problem.

The fields in February are often more mud than grass, which, as any horse owner will know, can lead to the dreaded mud fever. This is a horrible, painful condition for the horse, which is very hard to prevent and equally hard to treat. Pevlings Riding School like so many others, have been affected for nearly a year now and with their continuing loss of income they are almost reaching crisis point.

I am very aware that without people’s generosity many of these establishments may not survive, which would be a great shame for so many horse lovers. But in brighter news, Boris has just announced the reopening of outdoor sports facilities from March 29, which will come as a huge relief not only to Pevlings but for so many other riding schools. Let all horse lovers support our local equestrian facilities!

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