Posted on July 30th, 2020

Mounted games and polocrosse given green light to resume

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has given the green light for the team sports of mounted games and polocrosse to resume, following their approval of plans submitted by British Equestrian.

Equestrian team sports were halted in March of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 10th July 2020, DCMS released the Return to Recreational Sport Framework, which contained guidance designed to minimise the transmission risk of COVID-19 (coronavirus) during team sports and to enable participants to make informed decisions about their own risk. Using this framework, British Equestrian has worked with the Mounted Games Association of Great Britain, the United Kingdom Polocrosse Association and The Pony Club to produce bespoke action plans and risk assessments for mounted games and polocrosse.

Each risk assessment identifies ways to lessen the risk of COVID-19 transmission and to reduce the number of people in the vicinity of the field of play. This then allows event organisers to make modifications to the activity or rules of the sports as required.

A Return to Equestrian Team Sports Action Plan has also been produced by British Equestrian and the member bodies, which details a standard approach to the management of events in England, including team training sessions and competitions, for equestrian team sports. This action plan will sit alongside DCMS’s Return to Recreational Sport Framework, which must also be implemented by organisers, and government social distancing guidelines.

“It’s great news that these sports have been given the go-ahead to resume,” commented British Equestrian’s Head of Participation, David Butler. “We are very grateful for DCMS’s decision, and I’d like to thank our member bodies for the hard work they put into preparing these action plans and risk assessments. Participants, officials, volunteers and other stakeholders can now return to the sports they love, happy in the knowledge that everything possible has been done to keep them safe.”

Posted on July 17th, 2020

BD Winter Championships are back on!

The NAF Five Star Winter Championships and Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships, due to take place at Hartpury in April, was one of the first large dressage events to be cancelled when the coronavirus pandemic took hold in Britain back in March. However, after working closely with the show organisers, venue, competitors and officials, British Dressage is delighted to announce that riders, horses, owners and connections will not miss their opportunity to compete at Hartpury and the revised championships are now set to run from 17th to 23rd August 2020.

All competitors who had previously qualified for the two championships have been contacted and surveyed, with an overwhelming 75% indicating they would still want to compete at a rescheduled COVID-secure show.  With our loyal members onside, plans were immediately set in motion to get the championships back on track, albeit in a different format from usual.

Long standing event organisers Show Direct, managed by Kelvin Bywater, will oversee the seven day show in line with British Dressage COVID-19 protocols.  The competition element of the show will take place outdoors in the 60 x 80m international arena with Andrews Bowen surfaces.  Two arenas will run consecutively side by side, except while freestyle classes are in action.

The safety of all participants remains of paramount importance, so the championships will be run ‘behind closed doors’ to keep numbers on site to a minimum, in accordance with social distancing, public health and hygiene restrictions. There will be no spectators, sponsors, trade stands or hospitality on site, although competitors will still be able to bring one additional person per horse.

The BD and Show Direct teams will do their utmost to still promote a championship atmosphere for competitors and ensure that the achievements of competitors are recognised and rewarded in the same way as normal.  Those who can’t visit will be kept up to date with free to view live stream of both arenas provided by Horse & Country, plus a full news service and social media coverage from British Dressage.  There will be unmounted prize presentations and photographer on site to capture the championship experience.

Both NAF and Petplan Equine have pledged their full support to the rescheduled championships and wanted competitors to have the chance to take up their hard earned qualification and ride down that centreline at Hartpury.  All the original classes are included in the revised timetable, with the exception of the freestyle elements for the Prix St Georges Gold and Intermediate I championships, as the gala evenings unfortunately won’t be able to take place.

A dedicated microsite to support the Winter Championships is now live and will be updated regularly as further plans are finalised over coming weeks. The full competition schedule will be released early next week and entries will open for a two week window before they close in early August.  Times will be published on 13 August, with the show commencing four days later on Monday 17th August.

Stabling will be available on site as well as a limited catering provision from external mobile units for competitors, connections and officials.

British Dressage Chief Executive Jason Brautigam commented; “Getting a rescheduled Winter Championships back in the calendar was always a priority for us, as part of our sport resumption plans, as long as the competitors wanted it – and they told us they certainly did!  Running a show this size in the current circumstances will be a challenge, but we’re confident that we have robust plans in place to ensure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.  Add to that the management experience of Show Direct and first class facilities at Hartpury and we’re confident that the show can operate safely within government restrictions.  It will be a very different championships, that’s for sure, but after months of lockdown the chance to compete and celebrate success will be as special as ever.”

Show Direct Managing Director, Kelvin Bywater added; “The logistical task of preparing for a 38-class championships in a vastly reduced timeframe is well underway, but we’ll need to work collectively and with a degree of flexibility – that’s the BD and Show Direct teams, as well as the judges, officials, volunteers and competitors.  Most importantly, we’ll all have to play our part, keep to the guidelines and follow the protocols in place – it’ll be a long week of teamwork for everyone involved, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Posted on July 15th, 2020

Redwings Horse Sanctuary sets dates for the reopening of two of its visitor centres

After careful consideration, Redwings Caldecott and Redwings Aylsham, both in Norfolk, will be the first of the charity’s centres to welcome back visitors, on a trial basis.

Redwings Caldecott will reopen on Saturday 25th July, followed by Redwings Aylsham on Saturday 8th August, with safety measures in place to ensure adherence to the latest Government guidance and to protect both staff and visitors, including a new ticketed entry system.

Lynn Cutress, Redwings’ Chief Executive, said: “We’re delighted to be able to announce the reopening of two of our centres. Having to close our doors to visitors, while the right thing to do at the time, significantly impacted our ability to fundraise – a devastating blow for a charity 100% funded by donations from the public.

“This next step has taken much careful consideration and we thank all our supporters for their patience while we’ve decided on the best way forward. We understand some may be disappointed that we are not reopening all our centres at this time, but we felt it was prudent and manageable to trial our new safety measures on a small-scale for now.

“Access to some visitor facilities will remain limited for the time being, however our centres still provide a valuable outdoor space to enjoy time with the whole family and a great chance to see Redwings’ work in action – as well as our beautiful rescued residents of course – so we’re very excited to able to offer this opportunity again.”

The new measures being put in place at Redwings Caldecott and Redwings Aylsham include:

Opening hours being reduced to Saturdays and Sundays only, between 10.30am and 3pm.

Visitors must book a time slot for their arrival to ensure the number of people at the centres remains at a safe level at all times.

Tickets can be booked here: Redwings Caldecott –, Redwings Aylsham –

  • Entry remains free but donations would be welcome towards the care of Redwings’ rescued residents.
  • There will be clearly marked one-way routes around the centres to help visitors maintain social distancing.
  • Cafes and play areas will remain closed for now, while there will be phased access to the gift shops and a takeaway drinks and snacks service introduced over the coming weeks.

Visitors are encouraged to visit Redwings’ website ( for the latest news on the available facilities before travelling.

The charity’s centres in Essex, Scotland and Warwickshire will remain closed for the time being. For anyone not able to visit its Norfolk centres, there are still plenty of ways people can show their support, including donating to Redwings’ coronavirus appeal or sponsoring one of its Adoption Star horses and donkeys.

Posted on July 9th, 2020

Rescued pony and Guardian run two marathons for charity

A Redwings Horse Sanctuary supporter and her rehomed rescued pony have taken on a running challenge together to raise awareness for mental health.

 Having been inspired by the Couch to 5k programme, Jen Brooker, from Saxthorpe in Norfolk, decided to run the equivalent of two marathons over six weeks with pony Redwings Smartie by her side.

It is thought Smartie, a 16-year-old Welsh Section A pony, may be one of the only ponies ever to complete the popular programme!

The dedicated pair completed their challenge with a 9km run on Sunday 28th June which finished outside the entrance to Redwings’ Aylsham visitor centre and used their efforts to raise £240 for the mental health charity Mind.

While Redwings Aylsham is currently closed to visitors, staff and friends were ready and waiting at the gates to cheer them on.

Jen said: “The idea came about when I started the Couch to 5k running programme, and I saw it as an opportunity for Smartie to get fitter too. I decided to raise money for Mind after Smartie helped my daughter so much with her mental health. Plus, with the coronavirus pandemic seeing a surge in the need for mental health support, it seemed fitting.”

Smartie was rehomed with his Guardian Jen in 2011 to be a companion for her late mare Tottie. He was originally one of 13 ponies rescued by the RSPCA, and later cared for by Redwings, from a farm in Wales where they were discovered in an emaciated state.

The lovable pony became firm friends with Jen’s daughter Jessica and helped her to overcome some challenges in a difficult period in her life. Though Jessica is now grown up, Smartie remains with Jen and has helped other children regain their confidence through equine-assisted learning sessions.

“Running has always been a way of reducing my own stress levels and to have Smartie, my very special friend, beside me is magical. We get to chat every day and I always remind him of the memories he has created,” added Jen.

“We’ve had a few strange looks from people who aren’t used to seeing people running with a pony and he is the only pony that we know of in the Couch to 5k group on Facebook, so he may be one of the first ponies to complete the programme! We’ve had a fantastic time and may look to make it an annual challenge and see if we can recruit some friends (with two and four legs) to join in with us.”

Rachel Angell, Redwings’ Head of Norfolk Equine Operations, who oversees the rehoming programme, said: “We’re very proud of this super pair! Whilst Smartie is not being ridden at the moment, this is a fantastic way to keep him fit and healthy and, most importantly, for him to have some fun with his Guardian. The fact that they have raised such a great total for a very worthy cause is just the icing on the cake!”

Kathleen Miles, Director of Fundraising at Mind, said: “This is a wonderfully unique way to raise money and awareness that really does bring a smile to the face. The bond between Smartie, Jen and her family is clearly very special. It’s heartwarming to see creativity from people like Jen who are finding alternative ways to help Mind, and we are so grateful to her for choosing to support us.

“The current situation has meant that people are really struggling with isolation, stress, grief, financial worries and fears about the future, and those of us who already had mental health problems have also seen the usual support and services reduce or disappear. Donations from efforts like that of Jen (and Smartie!) mean that more people experiencing poor mental health in these unbelievably difficult times, are able to get the support they need to see them through.”

To find out more about Redwings rehoming programme and the rescued ponies currently looking for loving new homes, please visit

For further information about Mind, please visit

Posted on July 8th, 2020

Dressage Anywhere Music Festival

Dressage Anywhere, the online dressage competition website, is excited to launch the Dressage Anywhere Music Festival running throughout July.

Although the competition scene is looking a little brighter, many riders are still unable to travel. Dressage Anywhere and a group of enthusiasts are putting on a fun, swinging and all-inclusive competition. All those who would have been enjoying dancing to music at their favourite show can now compete from home by filming a test and entering online. It’s also a great opportunity for those riders who want to try out their music before competing at a live event.

Classes run from Walk and Trot to Advanced Medium and all will be judged by British Dressage qualified music judges. The total prize pot, worth over £1000 includes individually designed competition CDs, sets of educational freestyle to music DVDs, individually designed floor plans and wrist speakers.

Dressage Anywhere’s Ruth Chappell and Nereide Goodman said, “We’re so grateful to our sponsors and are excited for those itching to get dancing. We are still recovering from the success of the Hobby Horse classes we ran during the lockdown and we know some of those riders are looking forward to sitting on four legs rather than on one.”

Over 40 years ago Nereide launched the first national freestyle to music competition under the Wellington Riding banner. As she says, “the quality of music, horses, training and now accessibility has come on some way since then and it still has those elements of fun, innovations and great entertainment”.

Sponsors include: Beat this Dressage to Music, Gaynor Colbourn, Steph Croxford, Equidance, Equivisions and Through the Eye of the Judge.

Posted on July 3rd, 2020

World Horse Welfare confirms its centres will remain closed to the public until 2021

World Horse Welfare has announced that, after careful consideration, it has reluctantly decided to keep its Visitor Centres closed to the public until February (half-term) 2021. This decision affects all four of its Rescue and Rehoming Centres in Norfolk, Somerset, Lancashire and Aberdeenshire.

Roly Owers, CEO of the charity said: “We so very much want to be able to welcome everyone back, but we need to put the safety of our staff and the public first. While we love having visitors on site, without doubt this adds additional risk in terms of keeping our Centres ‘Covid-secure’.  The protective measures we would need to put in place would also inevitably involve taking valuable time from the yard and Visitor Centre staff to ensure measures were being followed. As we have recently been able to start rehoming our horses again, our yard staff are busy once more with rehabilitation work. The charity’s priority over the coming months has to be the rehabilitation and rehoming of our horses as each horse that is rehomed makes a space available for another animal in need. With all four farms currently at full capacity, making space available for the large number of welfare cases expected later in the year is vital.”

Another challenge is that the measures needed to ensure social distancing and high levels of biosecurity would limit the number of visitors that could be welcomed at any one time and, when balanced against the additional costs, would make opening far less viable.

Zoe Clifford, of Penny Farm in Lancashire said: “We are really missing our visitors, many of whom we ordinarily see so regularly they feel more like family. We know that our farm and our horses have a place in people’s hearts as well as the local community, but we have to put the safety of our staff and our visitors first. We will be keeping in touch with everyone through social media, our Facebook page will post updates and let people know about virtual events we will be holding.”

“We are certainly looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the farm, and there will be celebrations when we do, but in the meantime our focus is on rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming as many horses as possible.”

World Horse Welfare will continue to keep everyone informed of the latest information on its website where supporters are also able to sign up for a free e-newsletter. Regular updates can be found on the charity’s main Facebook page and on each centre’s own Facebook pages, where the progress of some of the rescued horses can also be followed.

Posted on July 3rd, 2020

Burnham Market to host Four Star classes this autumn

Musketeer Event Management is delighted to confirm that a CCI4*-L and CCI4*-S for eight and nine year old horses has been agreed by the British Eventing Fixtures Panel and approved by the FEI. These classes will run at an additional Burnham Market Horse Trials, on 17th-20th September. 

Jude Matthews, BE CEO, commented; “This is excellent news, and it will give combinations a much-needed opportunity to gain important MERs following the sad cancellation of this year’s SsangYong Blenheim Palace Horse Trials.

“The classes will move back to Blenheim Palace in 2021, but British Eventing – and, I’m sure, many competitors and owners – are very grateful to Alec Lochore and the team at Burnham Market for hosting them this year.”

Event Director Alec Lochore said: “We are obviously very happy to be able to step in and fill the gap following the demise of this year’s Blenheim Palace Horse Trials due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Whilst it will be a very different event to Blenheim, not least due to Covid, we are looking forward to providing the opportunity for owners, riders and horses to benefit from a run at this level, over suitably challenging and educational courses.”

Further details on this fixture will be published in due course.

Posted on July 2nd, 2020


It is with great regret that due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus pandemic we, Grandstand Media Limited, have decided to cancel this year’s Stoneleigh Horse Show scheduled to take place in August at Stoneleigh Park.  The provisional date for next year’s event is Friday 13th to Sunday 15th August 2021. 

Our priority has been, and will remain to be, the health and safety of all of those involved in the show as well as our responsibility to support everyone’s efforts to tackle the coronavirus.

This decision has been made alongside the announcement that Horse of the Year Show will no longer take place this year. The 72nd edition of HOYS will now be staged from Wednesday 6th – Sunday 10th October 2021, at the NEC Birmingham.

We will be communicating directly with the showing judges, showing officials and tradestand holders who support the event about the specific impacts – please bear with us as we work through this.

Emma Williams, Grandstand Media Limited event director commented: “We are extremely disappointed to have to make this decision and it is not one that has been made without considerable thought and discussion; we have done so with the utmost concern for the wellbeing of all those involved in making Stoneleigh Horse Show happen.  Considering the impact of COVID-19 on the showing qualifier season we believe that this decision is inevitably the right one for all concerned.

“I would like to thank all those involved in Stoneleigh Horse Show, and in the wider showing community, for their understanding and patience during these undeniably challenging times.  Our thoughts are with those that have been, and continue to be, affected by this pandemic.”

As communicated by British Showjumping on Friday 26th June, there remains a commitment to deliver the National Finals and the reallocated Spring Championships at Stoneleigh Park this August.  British Showjumping will announce further information about the respective finals through their official channels in due course.

Posted on July 2nd, 2020


It is with great regret, that we, the Board of Grandstand Media Limited must announce the cancellation of the 2020 edition of Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus pandemic.  We look forward to staging the 72nd Horse of the Year Show from Wednesday 6th – Sunday 10th October 2021, at the NEC Birmingham.

At the forefront of our minds has been, and will remain to be, the health and safety of all of those who come together to make Horse of the Year Show happen – the visitors, competitors, staff, officials, volunteers, partners, trade exhibitors and contractors – as well as our wider responsibility to support the efforts to tackle this challenge to our everyday lives.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier this year, we have followed guidelines from the UK Government and Public Health England for our processes, alongside gaining an understanding of the possible developments of the outbreak in the UK.  This has supported our thoughts regarding the impact of the potential restrictions on Horse of the Year Show 2020 and the significant preparations required to stage the event this year.

These considerations are principally related to the concerns about large gatherings, in addition to the social distancing, movement and travel restrictions within the UK.  With the probability that some level of socially restrictive measures will likely continue for several more months, it is our view that we must act responsibly to safeguard the large number of people who are involved in HOYS.  Over the last few weeks, we have also consulted with, and taken on board the views of, our key stakeholders including judges and volunteers.

The decision to cancel the event this year has not been taken lightly and is the result of considerable deliberation on all the above.  The option to postpone the event has been investigated, however due to a lack of available dates at the venue, and the continuing uncertainty, this has proven untenable.  It is our view that the most responsible course of action is to take this decision now, with the aim of providing some certainty for everyone involved in the equestrian industry and Horse of the Year Show.

Members of the public who have purchased tickets for Horse of the Year Show 2020 will be offered the option to retain their tickets for the same day and seat for the 2021 event or alternatively they can claim a refund.  Over the next few weeks we will be working with our ticketing agent, The Ticket Factory, to communicate directly with all ticket holders, in addition to contacting trade exhibitors and sponsors – please bear with us as we work through this.

Cancelling the 2020 event will come with a significant financial hit for the show, and like many businesses are facing right now, it will take many years to recover.  However, we know that with the support and investment from our valued partners, trade exhibitors, visitors, competitors, staff, volunteers, and contractors the show will come back stronger.

Sandy Anderson, Horse of the Year Show chairman, commented: “We are extremely disappointed to have to make this decision and it is certainly not one that has been taken lightly; we have done so with the utmost concern for public health and the wellbeing of all those involved in making HOYS happen.  It has been on our minds that this will be the first time since the event’s establishment in 1949 that the running of HOYS has been interrupted, and this is not without considerable financial obligation for the event.  However, we have carried out extensive consideration of the scenarios and we believe that this decision is a measure of the current uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.  We believe that this is inevitably the right decision for all concerned and for the future of Horse of the Year Show. Our thoughts are with those that have been, and continue to be, affected by this pandemic.”

Emma Williams, Horse of the Year Show event director, commented: “We strongly believe that this decision has been taken with everyone’s best interests at heart, it is not only to protect public health but to provide certainty to all stakeholders given the current impact of the virus on the qualifier season and wider equestrian events in the UK.  We have appreciated the support of our staff, societies, and partners in coming to this decision.

“I would also like to thank all of our dedicated Horse of the Year Show fans for their understanding during these incredibly challenging times.  It is your passion for HOYS that has made our event what it is today and it is undeniable that without the support of the equestrian community HOYS would not continue to happen.”

Further Information:

If you have already purchased general seating tickets for Horse of the Year Show 2020
The Ticket Factory will be in contact with you as soon as possible. You will have the opportunity to show your support for the event by transferring your booking over to the 2021 edition or you can opt to receive a ticket refund.

If you have vouchers that are to be redeemed prior to Horse of the Year Show 2020
All vouchers not already spent will be automatically extended for use towards Horse of the Year Show 2021; you do not need to contact us to arrange this.  Any vouchers that have been spent towards Horse of the Year Show 2020 for admission tickets will be transferred to the 2021 event.  Any vouchers that have been used for the purchase of merchandise are exempt from any refund or transfer.

If you have already purchased champions bar tickets, season tickets, hospitality tickets or M&M tickets for Horse of the Year Show 2020
We will be in contact with you as soon as possible. You will have the opportunity to show your support for the event by transferring your booking over to the 2021 edition or you can opt to receive a ticket refund.

If you have already purchased accommodation for Horse of the Year Show 2020 through Grandstand Media Ltd.
We will be in contact with you as soon as possible about your reservation, as we work with several different hotel partners please bear with us as we work through this process.