Posted on November 15th, 2021

Keep your horse safe from Atypical Myopathy

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is reminding horse owners to take steps to minimise the risks of Atypical Myopathy. Bare fields and gusty autumn weather can heighten the chances of horses contracting this fatal disease, which is caused by the ingestion of sycamore seeds.

Horses do not typically choose to eat sycamore seeds, however when pastures are bare, there is a greater tendency for them to be ingested as the animals forage for every last blade of grass. Wind can also cause seeds to spread faster and further, potentially reaching fields where there are in fact no sycamore trees.

Atypical myopathy is caused by the toxin hypoglyxin A. In the UK, the most common source of the toxin is the Sycamore tree (Acer pseudoplatanus), a member of the maple tree family. The Box Elder (Acer negundo) is the most common tree to cause the disease in North America. Both trees share the typical helicopter shaped fruit that help to distribute their seeds over long distances, typically several hundred metres, but reportedly up to 4km.

The ‘toxic dose’ of sycamore seeds can vary from less than 100 to several thousand single seeds. With each tree potentially shedding more than 20,000 double seeded ‘helicopters’, the amount on pasture can be considerable. In the spring, seedlings represent a risk to horses and can affect hay made from contaminated pasture. Seedlings at the edge of watercourses can also contaminate water supplies, especially when trampled as horses walk across them.

Horse owners are advised to take practical steps to prevent the disease by limiting access to sycamore seeds:

Identify trees both around grazed fields as well as those in close proximity. Trees are often easiest to identify in the summer when in full leaf, rather than in the autumn, when leaves have largely fallen. The characteristic maple leaf shape is easy to spot, although if in doubt a test is available from the Royal Veterinary College as a result of work funded by The Horse Trust.

Collect seeds or exclude horses from affected areas using electric fencing or stabling.

Feed supplementary hay to try and prevent horses from excessive foraging for short blades of grass and inadvertent ingestion of seeds. But ensure that hay does not become contaminated by seeds.

Don’t rashly fell trees when laden with seeds as this can cause a sudden and massive contamination of the pasture. Consider local regulations, tree protection orders and tree ownership if felling is the only option.

Monitor horses carefully even after they have been moved from affected pasture as disease can occur up to four days after exposure.

The most consistent clinical sign of atypical myopathy is the passing of dark brown urine (myoglobinuria) as a result of muscle breakdown. Horses usually become weak and reluctant to move and may lay down, but usually have a normal or increased appetite. In the most severe cases the horse will develop very severe colic-like signs due to significant pain. In some horses the severity of muscle pain leads to euthanasia on welfare grounds. These signs occur as a result of the active toxin which prevents muscles from undergoing normal energy metabolism. It can affect all muscles in the body including the respiratory muscles and heart.

“It’s imperative to contact your vet as a matter of urgency if you are concerned your horse may be suffering from Atypical Myopathy,” said BEVA President Huw Griffiths. “We can use a special blood test, thanks to research funding from The Horse Trust, to diagnose and measure exposure to the toxin. The earlier we are able to intervene the more likely a favourable outcome for the horse.”

Posted on October 29th, 2021

How to keep horses safe this Bonfire Night

Bonfire night and fireworks displays are usually a time of fun and excitement. However, for many animals and their owners, the 5th November can be a nerve-wracking experience. Explosions, fire and flashing lights are all things most animals find pretty terrifying and can prove challenging for those with animal companions.

That’s why Bransby Horses, an equine rescue and welfare charity in Lincolnshire, has written a handy guide to make sure horses, their owners and event organisers have a happy and relaxed bonfire night.

Why do horses act so erratically around bonfire night and fireworks? Understanding this, and why they become so frightened, is key to creating a safe and stress-free environment for horses. All horses, ponies, donkeys and mules are flight animals which means they can be easily scared by the loud noises and bright lights of fireworks. This can result in unusual or erratic behaviour, making horses stressed and unpredictable. When horses panic, they go into flight mode; this is when they are most likely to cause injury to themselves and others.

How can owners keep their horses safe?

1) All horses thrive on routine and any change in this can lead to anxiety and stress. By providing a safe, secure environment and keeping to the same management routine, this can help reassure horses during this period.

2) If a horse is being stabled, it can be a good idea to leave the lights on and play the radio to help drown out the effects of the fireworks. This routine should be introduced in advanced and radio licensing laws will need to be considered by commercial yards or businesses.

3) Plan for unforeseen circumstances:

  • Fire – create an evacuation plan to ensure both horses and humans can safely escape a fire.
  • Escape – if a horse escapes, contact the police and obtain an incident number. Keep a recent photo and horse identification documents to hand for this purpose.
  • Injury – ensure first aid kit and materials are fully stocked. Keep emergency vet details so they are easy to access.
  • Accident/damage – most horse owners already have third party and liability insurance. It is advisable to purchase as it will protect both owner and horse should a horse cause an accident or damage to property of others. The British Horse Society has launched a new app where horse related incidents and accidents can be logged, find out more here.
  • Check locally for scheduled displays – contact the organisers to see if the displays can be directed away from the horse’s environment. The organisers will also be able to advise of the timetable so you know when to be on alert.
  • If a horse is exceptionally sensitive to fireworks and associated stress, contact a vet and seek advice on the use of sedatives.

How can firework / bonfire organisers help?

  1. Clearly advertise the event. If possible, try letting local horse owners know when the displays are scheduled. This can be really helpful as it allows the owners to make plans to ensure their animal is kept safe and stress-free.
  2. Think about directing the displays away from known homes with horses.  This can potentially reduce the impact of the noise and light pollution.

How can everyone help?

  1. Attend organised events rather than creating your own display. If you are planning to have a display try to use low noise fireworks – those that create a visual effect but are quieter or produce no bang.
  2. If planning a display, let any local horse owners know what day and time the display is so they can make preparations to settle their equines.
  3. If a horse in distress is discovered, it is not advisable to approach it. They can be unpredictable and could cause an accident or injuries. Wherever possible contact the owner and allow them to manage the situation. If a horse has escaped and is loose on the road, please contact the police for assistance.

Love horses? Pay Bransby Horses a visit!

Bransby Horses rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes approximately 100 equines each year. Their 600-acre site is the perfect place to bring the family for a day out. Entry is free and visitors can learn more about the charity’s rescue and rehabilitation work, as well meeting the horses, ponies, donkeys and mules. Take a stroll through the beautiful countryside walkways and then enjoy the Café, Gift Shop or Donated Goods Shop. There really is something for everyone at Bransby Horses!

Posted on October 1st, 2021


The London International Horse Show, taking place at ExCeL London from 16th-20st December 2021, will host performances from the Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment as part of the spectacular schedule of equestrian action across the five-day Show.

Organisers have confirmed the attendance of the much-loved Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, made up of 28 horses and 36 personnel, adding to the diverse range of equestrian activity already planned. As the only mounted ceremonial soldiers who also serve as fighting soldiers, the Musical Ride of The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is unique globally as it demonstrates exceptional horsemanship and the very best of British tradition. The drills, which are based on movements mounted soldiers would have historically used in battle, will be carried out to music and performed in a routine that is strongly focused on precise timing and coordination.

The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry will join the roster for each performance, which also includes scintillating action from The Shetland Pony Grand National and The Kennel Club Dog Agility.

In addition to the breath-taking display acts, spectators will be treated to world-class competitive action, including FEI World Cup competitions in three disciplines; Dressage, Driving and Show Jumping. The traditional crowd favourites, The Puissance and The London International Horse Show Grand Prix will also take their place at ExCeL London, featuring the world’s best show jumping horse and rider combinations, with the next generation of riders set to star in The Mini Stakes and The U25 British Championship.

Show Director Simon Brooks‐Ward said: “We are delighted to be welcoming The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry to The London International Horse Show 2021. They are always a firm favourite amongst the crowd, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store this year.”

Captain William Long of The Life Guards, said: “The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is thrilled to be returning to the London International Horse Show. It will be very exciting to perform at the Show’s new venue, the ExCeL, this year.  It is always a privilege to take part in the show and truly does signal the start of the festive period.”

Posted on September 30th, 2021


Redwings Horse Sanctuary has launched a brand-new podcast to share stories of their rescued horses and donkeys, and conversations with their expert rescuers and carers.

This #InternationalPodcastDay on 30th September, the charity is celebrating by announcing its podcast series, called Sounds of the Sanctuary.

The weekly podcast takes listeners on a journey through the Sanctuary, with a spotlight each week on a rescued resident and their care, plus conversations with the vets, nurses, carers and support teams who make it possible.

Listeners can expect to go behind-the-scenes and discover more about Redwings’ facilities normally closed to the public, such as its specialist Reception Centre for new arrivals, Horse Hospital, Behaviour Centre and Rehoming Centres.

The charity has also produced a sister podcast, called Field Notes, involving sit down chats with Redwings’ experienced team, delving deeper into the equine care and welfare issues they frequently encounter and sharing their top tips along the way, from worming to land management, basic training to creating the perfect paddock.

The first three episodes of Sounds of the Sanctuary and Field Notes are already available to download from all major streaming platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The most recent episode features an update on Phoenix, the foal who was left with life-threatening burns after an arson attack, as his vet shares the latest news on his progress.

New episodes of Sounds of the Sanctuary will be released on Mondays, and Field Notes on Wednesdays. Listeners can also subscribe to the series to ensure they never miss an episode.

Redwings Communications Manager, Stephanie Callen, said: “We’re so excited to share this project with everyone. The Redwings podcast presents a chance to hear directly from our hard-working equine welfare teams and meet our rescued residents – so it’s straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak!

“From the vets and nurses who help our rescued horses back onto their hooves, to the carers and maintenance teams who tend to their daily care, and the rehoming teams who find them loving new homes – this podcast brings a unique insight into life at the Sanctuary which we hope will be enjoyable to Redwings fans, new supporters and horse owners alike!”

To find out more about Redwings’ new podcast and the Sanctuary’s work, please visit

Posted on August 4th, 2021

Can you Hack it for Essex & Herts Air Ambulance?

Following Great Britain’s success at the 2020 summer Olympics, horse-riders from across the region are being challenged to join ‘Tack2Hack’, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance’s (EHAAT) brand-new equine event, that will see supporters and enthusiasts horse ride 100 miles throughout August 2021 in aid of their local life-saving charity. 

Riders can tack up to hack out and conquer their 100 miles at a time that suits them, counting the miles during each ride. Solo, or together with friends, riders can create their own route to take the reins and stride out. All funds raised will go towards helping to keep the regions life-saving service operational for those that need it most.

Kerry Russell Head of Events at EHAAT said, “We are thrilled to launch this new event that will allow riders and enthusiasts of all abilities to choose how and when they hack out with their horses and ponies whilst also enjoying a boost to their wellbeing.  No matter how riders choose to take part, they will be joining hundreds of horse enthusiasts who will be taking advantage of the regions majestic countryside and showing that together we can help save lives.”

To join, riders can find out more information and register for free at to receive their free fundraising pack, t-shirt, mile tracker and safety hi-vis arm bands. Participants can then simply ride out to achieve their 100-mile target.  Those that raise the minimum fundraising amount of £150 will receive a beautiful sash for their horse to wear with pride.

For more information about EHAAT and its work, visit

Posted on July 23rd, 2021

Summer in the Saddle

A holiday activity can sometimes inspire a lifelong hobby and with many families choosing a staycation over a trip abroad this year, now could be the ideal time to have a go at something new.

Finding an activity for disabled children and adults can sometimes be more of a challenge, with fewer options available.

Horse riding is a great holiday activity and there are several Accessibility Mark accredited centres close to UK holiday hotspots.

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by the RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that it can offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure it provides a first-class experience that aims to be hugely beneficial to riders of varying levels of disability.

The south coast has a number of Accessibility Mark centres across Hampshire, Cornwall and Dorset, with centres also in other popular holiday destinations such as Yorkshire and Norfolk, all providing fantastic riding experiences for disabled people.

Louise Buckner, Centre Manager at Island Riding Centre based in the stunning location of the Isle of Wight said: “At Island Riding Centre we have the most wonderful facilities for disabled riders, including one of the Island’s few Changing Places facilities and a range of self-catering holiday accommodation suitable for disabled people with ground floor bedrooms, wet rooms and even adjustable height kitchen worktops.

“The site is fully accessible for wheelchair users and has a motorised para-rider hoist to help with mounting, and large indoor and outdoor arenas. Anyone who is visiting the area over the summer months is more than welcome to book a session or even a riding holiday available all year round. It also provides an opportunity for all the family to get involved with one activity together.”

Taking to the saddle has many benefits for people with both physical and mental disabilities, from the sense of freedom felt when on the horse to being able to connect with other people enjoying the same activity.

Wherever you are holidaying this summer there is sure to be an Accessibility Mark approved centre close by, so book your lesson today!

To find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit

Posted on July 19th, 2021

Relaxation in COVID restrictions across the nation

British Equestrian Federation: updates from the ministers across Great Britain of relaxations of a number of COVID restrictions from today

While a number of restrictions are being removed or reduced, British Equestrian recommends all stakeholders in the industry to remain vigilant, respect others, and follow hygiene measures to keep everyone safe and reduce the chances of transmission of the virus.


As of Monday 19th July, England will move into Step 4 of the COVID response roadmap, which in practice means:

  • Limits on social contact will end, with no restrictions on indoor or outdoor gatherings. Accompanying guidance will be published by the government around how best to reduce the risk of transmission and protect yourself and loved ones.
  • The requirement to wear face coverings in law will be lifted. However, the government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
  • Employers will still have a legal duty to manage risks to those affected by their business with a health and safety risk assessment, including the risk of COVID-19, and to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risks identified. Working Safely guidance sets out a range of mitigations that employers should consider, including:
    • cleaning surfaces that people touch regularly
    • identifying poorly-ventilated areas in the venue and taking steps to improve air flow
    • ensuring that staff and customers who are unwell do not attend the workplace or venue
    • communicating to staff and customers the measures you have put in place.

Helpful links

Sport England – coronavirus restrictions FAQs

Posted on June 17th, 2021

World Horse Welfare visitor centres delay reopening in wake of continuing Covid restrictions

In light of the announcement of Covid-19 restrictions continuing into July, World Horse Welfare has taken the difficult decision to postpone reopening their Rescue and Rehoming Centres to visitors. The four centres were due to reopen next week after more than a year closed to the public.

UK Director Tony Tyler said: “We were very much looking forward to having supporters back at our farms, so this is really disappointing, but the safety of our visitors and staff is paramount. We’ll be delighted to welcome everyone when restrictions are lifted, so we hope our visitors can bear with us and book a visit later in the summer.”

Anyone who has already booked their entry tickets through the new system will be contacted shortly. The latest information will be available on the World Horse Welfare website (www.worldhorsewelfare.orgRegular updates can also 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.

Zoe Clifford from Penny Farm said: “We are certainly looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the farm, and there will be celebrations when we finally do, but in the meantime we will continue to focus on rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming as many horses as possible.”

World Horse Welfare has four Rescue and Rehoming Centres at Belwade Farm in Aberdeenshire, Penny Farm in Lancashire, Hall Farm in Norfolk and Glenda Spooner Farm in Somerset. All have been closed to the public since last March but have been continuing to rescue, care for, rehabilitate and rehome horses and ponies in need during that time despite a 20% drop in income over the pandemic.

Posted on May 28th, 2021


Popular equestrian YouTuber This Esme will be helping to judge entries in a fun online horse and pet show raising money for Redwings Horse Sanctuary.

Unable to host its usual fundraising horse show this year, Redwings is once again challenging owners to showcase their beloved pets (of all kinds!) in a series of online classes after two successful virtual events in 2020.

Esme Higgs, the star behind the YouTube channel This Esme, will be judging the ‘Happiest Hacker’ class, which aims to highlight the joy of enjoying leisurely rides with your horse.

For the first time, the Redwings Show Online will also be offering virtual dressage classes, hosted by E-Riders.

These are just some of the many classes horse owners can enter in Redwings’ latest online event, which will also include classes for dogs and all other pets too – from donkeys to cats, from tortoises to chickens!

Entries to the Redwings Show Online 2021 are open now and will close on Sunday 20th June.

Redwings launched their first online show in May 2020 following the cancellation of their in-person event due to the pandemic. This and its follow-up – the Redwings Christmas Show Online – raised over £3,000 for the Sanctuary.

Due to ongoing coronavirus uncertainties, the charity has sadly decided to cancel their in-person event again this year, but hopes supporters will enjoy another fun online event.

Redwings Show organiser, Jude Palmer, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing back our popular online show and very grateful to This Esme for helping us with the unenviable task of choosing winners from gorgeous photos of happy hacking!

“Whilst we are disappointed to cancel our in-person show again this year, we hope our supporters and showing fans alike will still have fun preparing photo entries for the Redwings Show Online instead.

“For the first time we also have virtual dressage classes, hosted by E-Riders. The classes will allow horse owners to take part in dressage classes from the comfort of their yards whilst supporting our rescued horses, ponies and donkeys. Plus, in true Redwings Show Online fashion, dogs will be included in the fun too with a special ‘Doggy Dressage’ class – where owners and pooches can strut their stuff!”

Horse photo classes include ‘Heavenly Horses’, ‘Perfect Ponies’ and ‘Cracking Cobs’, while pet classes – open to all animals – include ‘Cutest Pet’, ‘Funniest Photo’ and ‘Best Fur Family’.

Entries to the Redwings Show Online will cost a donation of £3 each, and entries to the E-Riders Dressage classes will be £12 each. Entries will close at the end of Sunday 20th June, with results being announced on Redwings’ social media channels the following week.

For more information on how to enter and to see a full list of classes, visit


Posted on May 26th, 2021

RDA Virtual National Championships Open to Accessibility Mark Riders

The 2021 RDA National Championships will welcome entries from Accessibility Mark riders for the first time, much to the delight of disabled riders that participate at accredited centres nationwide.

The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), launched the revolutionary Accessibility Mark scheme to work with riding centres with the aim of opening up more opportunities for disabled people to participate in riding.

This year’s championships will be held virtually on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September due to the on-going challenge of hosting an event during the pandemic.

Previously only participants from RDA Groups have been eligible to enter the charities flagship event which is not just about the competition but is also a chance to celebrate achievement.

A number of dressage classes will be open to Accessibility Mark riders with a qualifying competition also being held virtually and the winners going through to the Virtual Championship Finals.

With a slightly different feel to the normal party atmosphere at Hartpury College when participants and volunteers come together, the virtual competition with two days of live streaming offers riders, drivers and vaulters the opportunity to still compete

For anyone that would like to get involved and their coaches, RDA has produced a series of videos about how to record your entry which can be found along with the schedule on the RDA website. The closing date for entries for the qualifying competition is June 30th and Friday August 27th for the National Competition.

Accessibility Mark status is awarded to a riding centre that has been approved by RDA following training and assessment. The close link with the RDA means that they offer continuous support to the establishment to ensure they provide you with a first class service and an experience that aims to be hugely beneficial.

There are currently 51 Accessibility Mark approved centres across the country.

To find out more about entering the RDA Virtual National Championships contact your Accessibility Mark Centre directly or to find your nearest RDA Group or Accessibility Mark centre visit