I took a precious day off work today to attend a meeting organised by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and HOOF-ride London's London Horse Network.
The place on the meeting was given to me and I had no idea what to expect but the Agenda seemed interesting. The main idea is to find a sustainable and clever way to allocate the government funding that is being made available as a part of London 2010 legacy.
More about this on the BEF website HERE.
The meeting was held at the Mudchute Equestrian Centre in East London - a burst of green and trees and animals with large peaks of Canary Wharf in the distance. Very surreal setting but they have lovely facilities including large all-weather surface arena, restaurant with some yummy soups and muffins etc and they also have the cutest rabbits and guinea pigs in the cool little houses with little gardens for them ;) Check out their website:
I didn't research my travel arrangements well and missed the fact there actually was a very easy connection from where I live to Mudchute. Instead, I took a Central Line and it was the most dreadful journeys I had for a long time. Makes me wonder if the commuters on that line developed some changes in their DNA or some other superior adaptations that help them deal with lack of oxygen, space and the type of heat you can only get if you stuff 100 people in a 30 people container.
Now, the DLR on the other hand, was a pleasure to travel on and what lovely views :)
Arrived at the place nice and early for a change and met the people running the meeting: BEF's London Representative David Gadsby, the Volunteer Chair to London Horse Network - Jodie Maile and Anna Bruce from Eventerprise PR, PR Advisor to the Network.
Majority of the delegates taking part were proprietors of London riding schools, some of whom I met before. It was really interesting to listen to their point of view on variety of issues facing the industry and although some attitudes were a bit disheartening the general outcome of the meeting turn up to be very inspiring and motivational.
The reason I agreed to take the place on the meeting in the first place was to learn how to obtain funding for a little London riding school I freelance at but it all turned up to be a very educational experience in many other areas.
The London Horse Network (LHN) has 5 aims:
-attract more participants to the sport
-support existing riding schools to improve standards
-identify a mechanism for providing affordable training for those in the industry
-develop links with local and national government, county sports partnerships and schools
-work collectively to attract funding and investment (revenue and capital) into the equestrian industry in London.
Our first task was to rank the above in the order of importance... Let's just say it was an interesting discussion with some surprising outcome in some cases!
I personally found this part of the meeting very insightful. My aim has always been to run the Academy with co-operation with existing riding centres to bring benefits to all parties: the establishments, the riders and myself. However, after visiting many riding schools over the past year I learned that there is a lot of barriers to be fought.
The chance to listen to and take part in the discussion today made me feel like I am starting to understand the ins and outs of this industry a bit better.
There are some fabulous opportunities out there for anybody to tap into but the bureaucracy and logistics of it all is mind boggling.
The two organisations/initiatives that were presented at the meeting today were:
Pro-Active London (their leaflet alone is like a one long list of abbreviations!) - once you translated all the abbreviations and made sense out of every single one you can proceed to appreciate the website which is actually very informative and helpful.
Kerry Smith, Relationship Manager, introduced us to the way the organisation works and how to make use of it. It's not easy!
Then Katie Couchman, Project manager of The Skills Active and The National Skills Academy... Now, this is a one wonderful initiative but again, you almost need to employ a full-time fund searcher to turn your head around all the details. If you work most hours of the day most days of the month you might just not quite manage...
Either way, the general feel was of great support and I am feeling very enthusiastic about learning more on the subject.
My grand mission is to obtain the funding for the indoor/covered arena for Barnfield Riding School as well as develop the Academy into a coaching initiative that isn't just providing me with an interesting job but that helps to deliver a quality training for London riders.
One guest speaker who made it quite simple and very encouraging was a lady from Emile Faurie Foundation. She spoke about a few initiatives the Foundation had started with and their results are amazing.
They do a lot of simple fund rising as well as applying for funds and their newest undertaking is an Art Exhibition: "I found horses..." More about it here:
"Proceeds from this art exhibition will help the Foundation continue transforming young lives."
There are more meeting/seminars scheduled soon with some very interesting content so I am looking forward to those already.
Oh, and let's don't forget the Rabbits: