A new charity initiative was launched by South Yorkshire Police’s mounted unit in Rotherham yesterday to repay the ‘monumental’ debt of gratitude owed to the nations horses.
The first ever Greatfor Health charity relay had its first baton pass at Wentworth Woodhouse.
The six riders and six horses received the baton from Wentworth Woodhouse’s CEO, Sarah McLeod, and Justin Brooks, the Greatfor Health relay coordinator for South Yorkshire.
Sophie Gifford, founder of Horses for Health, said: “Horses for Health and the charities are enormously grateful for the involvement of not just the South Yorkshire Mounted Unit, but also West Yorkshire, who are taking over the ‘baton’ from their South Yorkshire colleagues tomorrow at their yard in Wakefield.”
She told Sheffield Wire: “The debt of gratitude we as a nation owe equines is monumental.
“By supporting the charities who have suffered enormously during the pandemic, we can help them restart their activities – abuse, neglect and abandonment of equines in the UK is at the highest levels seen in recent years.
“Our charities are committed to saving these beautiful animals, rehabilitating them and helping them to help people through equine therapies delivered by organisations such as the RDA & HorseWorld Trust.”
Ms Gifford added that she started the relay idea at the end of December last year, and it has grown “beyond all recognition” in 4 months.
The relay aims to celebrate the positive impact horses have on mental health, offering great support to their riders and members of the public throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The relay also aims to raise awareness of the safety of horse riders and other road users, as well as general equine safety and welfare.
Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust CEO, Sarah McLeod said: “Awareness of mental wellbeing is ever-more important to us all after the experiences of the pandemic.
“It’s easy to understand how being aroundcan have a positive impact on people’s lives.”
The team will take the baton on patrol around the region until Thursday 6 May when they will pass it to West Yorkshire Police.
SYP Mounted Operational Manager, David Driver, said: “We’re incredibly lucky, and proud, to have a fantastic Mounted department in South Yorkshire and were thrilled to be offered the opportunity to kick off the Greatfor Health Relay – a fantastic initiative with a very important message.”
The baton will then travel between volunteers and other police units over the summer, ending in October.
More information about the relay, the charities, and mental health, can be found at www.horses4health.co.uk