Leading British eventer Pippa Funnell is swapping disciplines to make an appearance at Olympia, The London International Horse Show this week.
The Olympic gold medallist is taking part in the Santa vs Scrooge Celebrity Scurry Stakes as a backstepper, along with In-Harness magazine founding editor Fiona Powell, with two World Horse Welfare rescue ponies.
World Horse Welfare is Olympia’s Charity of the Year, and two of its ponies, Saphire and Yogi will be driven by their rehomers in the fast-paced challenge.
Saphire will play the part of Santa, while Yogi is Scrooge.
The winning backstepper will nominate someone to submit to a Christmas bucket challenge.
The Santa vs Scrooge Celebrity Scurry Stakes take place at 8.10pm on Friday night, and is a unique opportunity for both World Horse Welfare ponies to show off their skills at one of the equestrian calendar’s most iconic events, and demonstrate the quality of driving pony that is available for rehoming.
Yogi came into World Horse Welfare’s Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in 2006 as a completely untouched two year-old. He was very nervous of human contact but thanks to the experienced handling and care of the World Horse Welfare team he matured into a well-mannered pony with lots of potential. He was started in harness more than five years ago and since then has had fantastic success competing at national level with his rehomer, Liz Harcombe – recently starting tandem work. Yogi will be taking the role of Scrooge on Friday, driven by Liz with Fiona Powell riding pillion.
Saphire came into World Horse Welfare’s Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre three years ago and required intensive physiotherapy to build up her strength. Following the dedication of the team, she is now progressing well in her training and loves showing off her driving skills and stunning good looks. Saphire will be taking the role of Santa on Friday, driven by Amy Last with Pippa Funnell riding pillion.
World Horse Welfare’s trade stand in the popular shopping village offers visitors the chance to meet some famous equestrian personalities and take a selfie or two in the charity’s winter pony-themed photo zone. Plus, for anyone doing some last minute Christmas shopping there will be the chance to win an ultimate Christmas present, or to buy an array of horsey stocking fillers, including the opportunity to (almost) take a horse home for Christmas with World Horse Welfare’s Adopt a Horse Scheme.
Chief Executive Roly Owers said World Horse Welfare was honoured to be Charity of the Year at Olympia.
“The opportunity to showcase the talents of World Horse Welfare Yogi and Saphire in front of such a huge international audience is absolutely fantastic,” he said.
“We’re so grateful to Pippa Funnell and Fiona Powell for agreeing to take part in the scurry challenge, something which is no small task when you see the speeds Yogi and Saphire can reach when they’re fully revved up. It’s sure to be an unmissable evening of entertainment. And if you’re visiting Olympia I’d urge you to pay a visit to our trade stand to learn more about our rehoming scheme and our fantastic four adoption horses … you never know who you might be able to snap a selfie with whilst you’re there!”
The Olympia London International Horse Show started on Tuesday and runs til Monday at the Olympia Exhibition Halls in Hammersmith. Olympia runs for 7 days and hosts more than 90,000 visitors over the course of the show.
The World Horse Welfare trade stand is at stand number G42. During the show, visitors can text PONY05 to 70070 to donate £5 which will help purchase a bale of hay for ponies just like Yogi and Saphire.