Here at Prime Stables, we believe that nothing is more honourable than a selfless act. Giving up one’s time in order to see that other people can regularly enjoy their sport or carry out their profession is an example of generous behaviour that goes almost unnoticed in the equestrian world and we feel that it deserves more recognition. That is why we are proud to be the sponsors of this year’s Horse & Hound Volunteer of the Year award.
This illustrious award seeks to acknowledge the achievements of one volunteer who has truly given their all in order to help look after the horses of their local stable (or even stables, in some cases), from mucking out and sweeping to grooming and tacking up. These tasks are often overlooked when people think about horses, as most prefer to think of the exciting parts, such as being able to go out and ride them in the countryside, or on the beach, or even just in their own paddocks at home.
But this is not all looking after horses is about and volunteers know this. They are not afraid or uncomfortable with the idea of picking up a broom to sweep up hay or clean out muck, and do everything they can to keep the horses they help to look after clean and comfortable. This keeps the animals happy and healthy, and it means that the people who ride them will be able to spend better quality time with them. This kind of work deserves appreciation, as do the people who carry it out. We love horses here at Prime Stables and we are proud to put our name to an award which celebrates individuals who love them just as much as we do.
Previous winners include Keith Watkins, Mary Tuckett and Jane Cepok, who has been volunteering for over 50 years, including with the Strathearn branch of the Pony Club in Scotland, Blair Castle International Horse Trials and Riding for the Disabled Association Auchterarder Group. Each of these winners have dedicated countless hours of their time to looking after horses and helping those who ride them, and the nominees for this year will also be similarly committed. With the readers of Horse & Hound acting as judges for all categories in the magazine’s awards (with the exception of the Lifetime Achievement award), we are certain that the winner will have made a great impression, even if the choice will still be difficult to make.
Nominations have now closed and the judging panel are currently deciding on a shortlist of potential winners. Their decisions will be made based on the number of nominations given on behalf of candidates, the strength of the nominee’s dedication and their achievements while they have been and continue to volunteer.
It is unfortunate that not all those who receive nominations can be granted awards, as all volunteer work carried out at stables is worthy of recognition, but there is only one award to give and many deserving candidates. However, there is nothing to say that an unsuccessful nominee from one year cannot be nominated again, and the more a person continues to love their work with horses, the greater their achievements can become. They could end up with a prize that is almost as much of a reward as working with horses!
The shortlisted candidates will be announced by Horse & Hound on Thursday 17th October, along with their stories and an invitation for the reader to vote for their winner online. The full vote will close a week later, on Thursday 24th October, so there is only a short window for readers to vote if they want to see one particular volunteer take home the award.
All the nominees (who will be allowed to bring a guest each) will then be invited to attend the H&H Awards, run in partnership with NAF Equine Products, at Cheltenham Racecourse on Wednesday 4th December. The event is expected to be packed with famous names from the equestrian world and will undoubtedly be a night to remember, for everyone involved.
We at Prime Stables are looking forward to the awards tremendously and we wish all the nominee candidates the very best of luck!