Hello, my name is Annie, and as many of you are aware, I am passionate about the heavy horse breeds. Thank you for looking at this fundraiser, which, because of the devastating effects of the Corona Virus and Lockdown, is a sad necessity as without your help, Cumbrian Heavy Horses, BHS Approved Riding Centre with our Breeding Programme for both Suffolk Punches and the Clydesdale breeds of Heavy Horses, will not survive through next winter.
I developed Cumbrian Heavy Horses many years ago with the mission to promote these gorgeous horses as ridden horses. In giving them this ridden life we give these breeds a genuine use, a secure future, and it's working!
Some of the UK's heavy horses are, however, endangered. The Shire and Clydesdale are not quite as critical, but the Suffolk Punch is rarer than a Giant Panda. I have two Clydesdale mares due May and June, two pure Clydesdale foals, and are eagerly awaiting delivery of our Suffolk Stallion, Pendragon, and two Suffolk mares, to commence our very own Suffolk Punch Breeding Programme here on the farm in rural Cumbria. This new aspect of what we do here is terribly exciting, we'll have 6 Suffolk Punches here. The future is bright, the future is Orange!
As a business, we offer folk the world over the opportunity to come and ride with us, on responsive, fit heavies, offering a variety of experiences to suit most folk, from nervous novices to very experienced riders (often this is a once in a lifetime opportunity). Do have a look at our Facebook page, TripAdvisor etc for more information.
This is a business built from love and with passion; the horses want for nothing, we work to the highest standards, and offer Apprenticeships, Internships, and have a long standing core of qualified staff who are equally enthusiastic and knowledgeable not only about the horses but also the area we ride in, the rich history, flora, fauna, local customs, sheep husbandry.....so much to tell our visiting riders!
Due to Covid-19 on 23rd March we had to close our gates to riders and visitors, loosing all our revenue to fund our future, our on-going promotion of these horses through riding, training and breeding.
We have had to simply turn away the horses, all fit, shod, ready for Easter and the coming summer, and stop. It's terrifying.
I still need a core staff team to help care for the horses, although we have had to lay off and furlough most to try and keep our overheads down. This is devastating, we are a family.
I must point out that we are not a registered charity so I recognise that some folk will think this plea cheeky, but we are certainly no regular business, we cannot walk away, shut the door, turn the key, and return when this is all over. Our overheads continue: direct equine ones, shoeing, staffing, veterinary, feedstuffs, hay, straw, it's all still required. In addition, we have business overheads: Insurance, the mortgage, wages, training, then on going farm maintenance tasks such as fencing, stone walling, drainage, reseeding fields, muck spreading, etc. Without revenue, how are these costs to be covered?
Let me explain, in brief, the basic business plan.
The farm, the land on which we live and work, earns very little. It's a small fell farm, and without diversification these traditionally sheep rearing, hand to mouth existence farms do not make much money, if any. My business, Cumbrian Heavy Horses, relocated here in 2015. My gorgeous horses all live and work here. We use the farmland for grazing, cross grazed by the sheep, then also to ride, train, breed etc. Most of our income is made over the summer: with good weather our wonderful customers come and join us, enjoying the riding, our Riding Holidays, Wild Weekends, with the team both human and the beautiful horses, and stunning scenery - we live in a World Heritage Site. We need the summer income to get through winter, with far fewer, if any riders yet higher overheads. There's a campsite here too which also pays into overheads, but guess what, that's closed too. As is the very basic campsite shop.
I have held out on doing this GoFundMe Appeal as I hoped the Lockdown would be raised sooner (naive of me?) but it looks increasingly like it will not be. We're into week four and it looks like we will be locked down for a further three weeks minimum. We might not get a summer. The current £40,000 worth of cancelled rides will require paying back, or taking in future.
Our future, our survival as a Heavy Horse Riding Centre, and our ability to promote and breed these Rare Breeds, particularly the Suffolk Punch, is my greatest concern.
Please, please help us to continue our mission by making a donation, no matter how small, as in doing so you will be contributing to saving these rare and endangered beauties. The £50k target seems crazy high, I know that, but is realistic: if the lockdown goes on...and on....it will help us keep our heads above water and ensure our horses are fit and healthy for when we can open our gates once again, and also, importantly, give us the money we need to survive next winter. We are losing income every single day. and the worst part of this, for us, for everyone, is that we do not know when this will end.
We have not been riding atm as we do not wish to potentially put additional strain on our amazing NHS staff should anyone fall and suffer and injury, although we will start gentle rides out as we hear more, because otherwise when we do open we will be unable to go straight into hard work, as the horses will not be fit. This situation, for myself and the team here, our friends, followers, booked riders and those hoping to join eg our Cumbrian Classic Holiday, coming from abroad, the not knowing, is a complete nightmare. Right now the horses are turned out and we are checking them twice daily, supplementing poorer fields with hay and feeds. We don't usually have them all out, it's all I can do. They are looking well. Shoeing etc continues as normal using strict social distancing rules.
Any funds raised by our amazing donors will go towards our survival. Not development, we just want to survive. I am obviously not putting details of all my finances on here, but should anyone wish to donate or loan and wishes for more business information please contact me directly on [email redacted].
I apologise right now for the website, please use Facebook until the WIX one we are working on is uploaded, and equally if you are calling or emailing, I am in the end throes of our farm's lambing, and with no staff am doing it myself. Bear with!
THANK YOU, in advance, for simply reading this so far, and potentially for making a donation. I have added to this post tonight, 15th April, as we hit £14k today, I remain amazed and delighted, its simply wonderful, thank you thank you all.....but if we cannot open at latest June, we will struggle. I am open to suggestions!
As I am usually a cheery upbeat and happy soul, who tries to always look on the bright side of life (quietly singing Monty Python now) so am going to tell you a little about our horses, the one's currently on lockdown here. They told me they miss the beaches, and going out, and want to go to the pub for a beer asap, please! (who doesnt, guys and girls!) If I can work out how, I will post photos (don't laugh, am not so hot on this stuff!)
Oldest, most intelligent, and utterly random: Dingle, superstar and long time CHH member. This gorgeous lad is an Ardennes and is into his very late teens. I chose the first GoFundMe photo as it was taken during the first weeks of owning Baystone Bank Farm, as the contracts were being signed. That was a new start, fresh beginnings, as now., 'cos if we survive this, with your help, it will feel like one! He's still going strong, is a dedicated squealer and will be with us for his forever. We love the Dingledozer!
Sparky: the last horse still working here from our Migration ride. He was young at the time, and for those of you who do not know what that was, we rode from our previous base in Scotland on the Isle of Skye, to Cumbria in 2006 on an expedition called The Great Clydesdale Migration. Sparky was five years old. He still has a spring in his step, although is now an older lad at 19 years old. He has given so many people a confidence giving experience, he is a superstar. Owned by the lovely Therry Cooper!
Little Prince: a gorgeous bright bay roan Clydesdale. He came to me ...oh gosh, years ago, he's Sparky's field mate, a year younger. Originally named Prince, at the time we had a large and beautiful Shire called Prince, so this lad was named 'Little' Prince as he was slim, lithe, and a very different cup of tea. I fell in love with him! Fast, joggy, lively, talented, hot headed, I just adored him, now as then! He still does steadier Beach Riding Experiences, but is defo a little slower....but hey, happens to us all, huh?! He's only ridden by myself or the staff team as he does get nervous with the wrong rider. Oh dear I have written loads about him...can you tell I love this horse that wee bit more?!
Tilly: a pretty bay roan Clydesdale mare, has been here with us for three years now. Naturally as a girl she's opinionated and stroppy, although when she arrived she appeared quite traumatised so we accept that many of her attitudes are due to her humans, not directly herself, as she's a sweet girl and we are looking forward to her first foal due at the very beginning of May.
Bella: a very pretty dark roan Clydesdale mare, has been with us here for four years. She's owned by the wonderful Brian Amey, she is a gorgeous big mare, is lovely to ride, and had a foal, Harry, two years ago. She is not due until the end of June/early July, so we are very much looking forward to meeting a new baby!
Solas: is a beautiful big black Shire, he's a very popular choice for all our riders as he's quite simply awesome! Fast and active yet steady on Farm Riding Experiences, he is owned by Volunteer and wonderful friend Val Toomey. He's basically great fun, and loves his life here! He's very playful, we cananot put a rug near him he has way too much fun playing with it, aka destroying it! We all call him Solly, it rolls off the tongue (think Monsters Inc?!)
Hector: our third Suffolk Punch, following in the very large boots of Thor (retired and living with Louise Brown) and the kind Archie (also retired). Hector is a little bit interesting on the ground with no spatial awareness, but he excels under saddle. He's simply awesome to ride, smooth, fluent, and kind. We love him despite his manners! He came to us from Wales, his gorgeous colour is very attractive, and his curious personality makes us laugh, hes quite a character!
Charlie: this lovely bay roan Clydesdale gelding is sweet and kind, he's very enthusiastic about his life here! Owned by the lovely Meg Quin he's been with us for two years now. He is gentle, yet great fun under saddle. He loves the beach, and took to working here like a duck to water. He was a bit plump when he came and his nickname is Chunk......think The Goonies?! He's an easy horse to love !
Warrior: a ginormous big bay Shire, this horse is seriously impressive. His brother is Tommy, whom many of you will have met or ridden. Tommy and Warrior and owned by Marc, who lives in France, and Warrior is here with us on long term loan. He has a very nervous temperament but has mellowed somewhat. Usually ridden by Annie or the staff team as he can get agitated very rapidly in the wrong hands, and he panics. So you just need to sit quiet and know that he's gorgeous! Very fast, very smooth. and our tallest at 19hh.
William: this is one stunning horse, he's a roan Clydesdale with striking markings. Thank you Ros for lending him to us again this summer, what we will have of it.... He's a very pretty, comfortable, level headed lad, enjoys all aspects of his work here, and has THE most lovely paces. He's smooth and fast, too! He spent the winter learning dressage tests and really enjoyed that element of his learning curve! All we need is an arena. Oh after surviving Coronavirus!
Kroove: an unusual mix of European heavies has given us this beautiful stocky dark bay mare. She is part Comtois, part Trait du Nord and part Bretonnais and is simply beautiful. She's smart, sassy, and fun, very quick, and often ridden by the team as she is very sweet to ride, easy to maneouver at e.g. gates. She can be a little bit of a mare, (let's call it, she has character?!) but generally is a sweet girl.
Maisie: this pretty black Shire mare joined us over the past winter. She's been a ridden horse for many years, it took her a little while to settle in, but she has taken to work here really well. She's really affectionate and a good, solid, fun riding horse. We'll get to know the full scope of her abilities better over the next few years if all goes well.... Took to the beach like a duck to water!
Henry: this gorgeous lad joined us a few years ago now, and despite the roan colour he's a Shire, big and beautiful, a bit of a height contest between him, Warrior and Eddie tbh! He is a super lad, kind, well mannered, a credit to Barbera his previous owner, and great for most riders, as his temperament is so sweet! What's not to love, like so many of these horses!
Jacob: this lad came to us many years ago, he was very malnourished and it took us three years to get him right. He's a gorgeous horse to ride with super paces, he gets very excited on faster beach gallops, then remembers he is, actually, a Shire so steadies up! He's so sweet! He is a very handsome horse, that lovely shiny shire bay, with pretty dapples (although its not cool to tell a man horse he's pretty, but he really is!).
Joey: this simply stunning lad joined us fairly recently from the lovely Lisa. He has settled into life here so well, is big buddies with Warrior, and having so much fun - well, he was and then this virus hit us. He has managed a few beach rides as training rides, and has been learning the ropes. We hope, once we re-open, that his education will continue. Lisa has spent a lot of time and effort schooling him, so, again, after Covid-19, if all goes well, we can put that arena in! We can hope!
Tobi: this quirky soul joined us over this winter, he was much loved in his previous home, and is enjoying his new life challenge here of learning to be a ridden horse. He has quite a jumpy temperament, so we are working slowly slowly with him, and look forward to watching him develop into a lovely ridden horse -he has such potential! He's a Clydesdale x Brabant, an unusual mix, and we think he will be fast and great fun, once he's settled in!
NEW SUFFOLKS!! Both these beautiful lads joined us from Cornwall, in early Spring, from the stables of the lovely Harry Gotts, long time Suffolk Punch Breeder and enthusiast. Thank you Harry! We hope to welcome some of his mares this spring, although plans might change, this virus is so going to affect much we have taken for granted. Time will tell...
Henry: this pretty slightly nervy Suffolk (aged 13) is a lovely lad, he has had a life of relative luxury with Harry, and appears slightly surprised that we want him to do anything, other than eat of course! He has been kind, and we have worked slowly with him, giving him time to settle. He has allowed us to ride him, and is becoming accustomed to the idea of fitness! Seriously, he's doing really well, although under saddle plans have halted we are working on the ground.
Drummer: this young Suffolk (he's 7 years old) has the most rich red gold colour I think I have ever seen on a horse, he's beautiful. An old fashioned chunky Suffolk type, he's revelling in life here, has taken to being a ridden horse with enthusiasm, and we feel he will become a hugely popular member of the team here, he is sturdy and solid with an enquiring mind. Pleased as punch to have him here! (sorry, couldn't resist!)
Our Off Season Loan Scheme is still in place, so I will add these horses when they return.
OK, so I have waffled on. THANK YOU for reading, and helping. Please do donate, if you can, as literally every little helps secure the future for Cumbrian Heavy Horses.
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