A project to create a memorial to the horse and its unfaltering service to mankind throughout history has been announced as the official charity of this year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show.
It will raise funds for The Free Spirit Horse Memorial, a tribute to the horse at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and will be unveiled in 2018 to coincide with the centenary anniversary of the end of the First World War.
The memorial will be accessible to able-bodied and disabled, providing a tactile as well as a visual experience, with seating for reflection and contemplation, information plaques in braille for those who are visually impaired, Makaton symbols and dyslexia approved font to aid communication.
This accessibility was of paramount importance to the project organisers as it mirrors the horse, who does not judge but treats and respects each person as an individual, bringing together all members of the community without prejudice. The horse has been, and continues to be, a strong, loyal and dedicated companion through war, industry, sport and therapy and the Free Spirit Horse Memorial aims to pay tribute to this honourable and emotive creature.
As part of its charitable aims, the Free Spirit project also provides education around the role of the horse through art, music and history to ensure that the significance of the horse is taught to future generations. In addition, the project promotes the importance of equine therapy for the most vulnerable in society and reaches out into communities by visiting schools, care homes and mental health facilities.
“We are delighted to be supporting The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project in 2018 as we mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I,” said Show Director Simon Brooks-Ward said.
“Horses have played a vital role in the development of our country throughout history, whether in conflict, work, rehabilitation or sport and leisure. Royal Windsor Horse Show is an annual celebration of top equestrian sport and entertainment, so this partnership is a natural fit, commemorating the role of horses in society, past and present.”
The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project Chair Tracy Francis said volunteers work passionately to acknowledge the role the horse has played in society in the past and present, and will play in the future.
“The horse is central to the community that is created at Free Spirit; these intelligent, compassionate and emotive animals break down barriers and are unprejudiced in their approach to everyone who works with them.
“The project is extremely proud and honoured to be charity of the year at the prestigious Royal Windsor Horse Show and it is a great opportunity for the ongoing work and commitment of the project to be recognised in the public spotlight.”
Sculptor Georgie Welch started on the piece in early 2017, and it is expected to be completed in August this year, with the unveiling in September 2018. Winner of the British Sporting Art Trust Award in 1998, Welch was selected in 2010 as one of the best in show at the Society of Equestrian Artists’ International Open Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. Based in Chippenham, Wiltshire, all of her sculptures are cast in the lost wax method at the renowned Pangolin Foundry based in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
This year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show takes place from 9 – 13 May in the private grounds of Windsor Castle.