Equine welfare and athletic feats in spotlight at 2017 Animal Health Trust Equestrian Awards
Professional riders, leading veterinarians and horse welfare experts working on the health and well-being of equines ("from elite competition horses to beloved family ponies") were honoured Tuesday, October 31 in London by HRH The Princess Royal at the Animal Health Trust’s annual equestrian awards ceremony.
At the event in a Grosvenor Square hotel, Princess Anne, herself a top equestrian athlete with various international medals to her name, used the opportunity to highlight the Trust’s work in the United Kingdom and beyond over the past 75 years, in particular its research on equine infectious diseases and injuries. Concretely, that research has advanced the use of MRI for animals and the treatment of skin cancers in horses, as well as contributing to the condition of horses at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Among the winners of the 2017 awards were the British Eventing Team, Nicola Wilson, Oliver Townend, Tina Cook and Rosalind Canter. At Strzegom in Poland this August, Great Britain’s eventers won their first European Championships team gold since 2009. The Princess Royal herself was a champion rider in the discipline in the 1970s.
For his part, Anthony Stirk was recognized with the Dr Reginald Wooldridge Veterinary Achievement Award. In the words of the awards judges, “His input has been fundamental to the success of the UK’s various racing authorities’ fatal and long-term injury programmes.” As a direct consequence of his work, it is said, racing fatalities have been reduced by one third in the last 20 years.
Legendary racehorse trainer John Gosden, who has trained over 3,000 winners in England, Europe and America, was also honoured, as were young Show Jumping and Dressage phenoms Oliver Fletcher and Charlotte Fry respectively. Redwings Horse Sanctuary’s work on the disease of strangles in horses was equally singled out, and Lady Harris was the recipient of a special achievement award for her long-time work promoting the health and welfare of animals. In addition, the Harvey Spack Field Dressage Award went to Para Team Trainer Michel Assouline, “a fundamental part of the team’s success over the last 12 years.”