Equine aid to Ukraine ramps up as British equestrian groups unite

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Packed and ready: The first shipments of donated feed and supplies are ready to go to Ukraine.
Packed and ready: The first shipments of donated feed and supplies are ready to go to Ukraine. © Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation

The first shipment of donated horse feed destined for Ukraine has arrived at the distribution point at the Lensa Wola Riding School in Poland, with more scheduled to arrive in coming days.

Reported donations of feed arriving from March 7 up to March 20 has topped 54 tonnes.

Once the first truck is packed it will be on its way to Lviv in Ukraine, but the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation will then face the next challenge of getting the feed and supplies distributed, with many roads blocked and fuel in short supply.

More trucks from Britain, Finland, Germany, Belgium and other countries are expected to arrive soon, and the foundation has received support from around the world.

The Belgian-based bank account for donations to the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation is now open.

The Ukrainian Equestrian Federation is focusing on evacuating horses, and providing humanitarian aid. It is working to construct a temporary stable in Poland for horses crossing the border to wait while documentation is processed. Three horse transporters are ready to bring horses to Poland and return with supplies.

Many requests from those requiring assistance have been made, but the federation says it is short of volunteers to help, particularly in Poland.

Groups form British Equestrians for Ukraine

Several organisations in Britain have united to form “British Equestrians for Ukraine” which aims to help horses and their owners caught up in the crisis created by the Russian invasion.

Spearheaded by British Equestrian (BEF), The British Horse Society (BHS), the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) and World Horse Welfare with the support of member bodies across the industry, British Equestrians for Ukraine has been set up to help facilitate a supply chain to meet the immediate need for goods on the ground as well as raising money to help purchase supplies and cover the costs associated with transport.

British Equestrians for Ukraine is working with leading equestrian brands and BETA members to co-ordinate offers of urgently required goods and then matching them with planned haulage trips to the Polish logistics hub established by the Ukrainian and Polish Equestrian Federations. This is to ensure full loads and the correct exportation documentation to expedite the goods getting into Poland and on to Ukraine.

They do not recommend that private individuals collect donations of goods or equipment and/or attempt to transport them to Europe themselves, unless they have extensive experience of exporting goods. There are significant logistical barriers and the required exportation documentation for mixed loads is extensive plus the inherent costs associated with the trip could become prohibitive.

The group has added a trusted method for financial contributions, with World Horse Welfare setting up the British Equestrians for Ukraine Fund on their website where direct donations can be made by individuals or organisations. Donations, no matter how small, will help the group work with trusted, local partners, including the Ukraine and Polish Federations and recognised charities to provide emergency support. UK taxpayers can sign up to Gift Aid on their donations which means the fund will receive an extra 25p in every £1 they give, at no extra cost.

Five tonnes of horse feed and bedding has arrived at the Lensa Wola Riding School in Poland, and is awaiting transport to Ukraine.
Five tonnes of horse feed and bedding has arrived at the Lensa Wola Riding School in Poland, and are awaiting transport to Ukraine. © Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation

World Horse Welfare Chief Executive Roly Owers said there will be huge challenges to effectively target funds where they are most needed, so the new group was striving to work through a network of local partners in the unsettled and rapidly evolving situation.

“The tragedy unfolding in Ukraine is utterly heart-breaking but there has been such a desire from across Britain to help Ukraine’s horses and those who own or care for them. This fund aims to do just that and, along with the British Horse Society, we have donated to the appeal, and would encourage others to do the same,” Owers said.

British Equestrian Chief Executive Jim Eyre said everything possible must be done to prevent the unnecessary suffering of all equines and help those who care for them. “We’re fortunate that our equestrian community is blessed with so many willing to help those in need. However, it’s apparent that careful co-ordination is required to make sure urgent goods get to those in need through the correct channels. We hope that we can help facilitate that while urgently raising funds for the emergency requirements and beyond.”

BETA’s Executive Director Claire Williams said that what had been achieved in such a short time shows what can be done when groups work together.

“Shipments of hay and bedding are already on their way, but the logistics due to Brexit are challenging. Feed companies with distributors and stock on the Continent are stepping up to assist while others who are experienced exporters are committing supplies to be sent over either through shared loads or direct with their usual hauliers,” Williams said.

“Other companies who are not in a position to send product have also pledged cash donations to the new fund.”

How the equine community can help via British Equestrians for Ukraine

    • If any companies can help with donations of reasonable quantities of the following in packs weighing less than 20kgs, please contact BETA on info@beta-uk.org who can help with the logistics of supply:
      • small packaged haylage/forage
      •  compound/hard feed
      •  shavings

Any product supplied will need to be accompanied by export documentation and should not require export health certificates.

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