A new showing society is launching this year, dedicated to rescue horses and ponies. The Rescue Equine Showing Society (RESS) aims to encourage people to consider taking on a rescue equine, and to showcase that even those that have been subjected to the worst cruelty and neglect, can go on to lead happy, healthy and active lives and excel in many disciplines.

RESS will have its official launch event at Equifest on Saturday 3 August. There are already a number 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. No membership is required for 2024.

‘We really want RESS to give these rescues the opportunity to shine and to demonstrate how successful they can be,” said Cathy Hyde, founder and Chair of RESS. “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.”

It’s hard to believe this is the same pony as the one pictured top at Equifest

Cathy worked in frontline animal welfare since 2001, when she joined the RSPCA Inspectorate Training School. During her time at the charity, she 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 around 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 thought that Equifest, held at the East of England Showground, Peterborough, (now Arena UK, Lincolnshire) would be the ideal platform for these classes.

“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,” she said.

The society aims to highlight the potential of rescue horses and ponies

In 2011 Cathy was invited to meet the Equifest committee and put forward a proposal to introduce the rescue classes at the 2012 show. Jon Phillips, the then Chairman of Equifest, offered to sponsor the classes and it was 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. Due to the response to the Rescue Classes and Rescue Village, Cathy, with the support of the Equifest team, opened it up to the other leading equine charities.

Buggy before his rescue…

“When asked whether I would consider being President of the new association for the Rescue Horses and Ponies, I didn’t hesitate,” said Carey Knox, president of RESS. “Through the first-hand experience of seeing and reading horrific stories I really want to help highlight what has and is going on, and bring to the forefront, and also encourage people to look into perhaps owning and loving a rescue horse or pony.”

After a break due to the pandemic, this year RESS is reintroducing the Rescue Village to Equifest. The feature is sponsored by NEDZ Beds and Luke Rees at Hand Tailored Rosettes has donated rosettes for all of the qualifying shows for 2024.

Buggy transformed

There is no membership required for 2024 and no affiliation fees for shows wanting to run classes, as the society hopes to encourage people to have a go and experience what the classes offer.

RESS will be looking at providing training and bursaries for members from 2025, as well as the series of competitions culminating in the championships at Equifest.

To find out more, including how and where you can compete and qualify for the championships, visit the RESS website

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