From Rescue to Ribbons, Nurturing Equine Champions for a Brighter Future

Rescue Equine Showing Society

How We Came to Be

Our Chairman, and founder, Cathy Hyde, has worked in frontline animal welfare since 2001 when she joined the RSPCA Inspectorate Training School.  Cathy had ridden and worked with horses from a very young age, and it developed into a real passion.  She ‘accidently’ fell into Showing when she brought a young horse that turned out to be a lightweight show cob and from this she went onto ride for other owners and then progressed to Judging.

During her time at the RSPCA, Cathy dealt with some of the worst cases of cruelty and neglect, and having been promoted to Chief Inspector she also took on the additional role of Lead Inspectorate Equine Officer – deploying a team of dedicated equine officers to various events and investigations specifically involving equines.  At one meeting where the discussion was focused around the increasing equine crisis and the need to encourage people to consider rehoming a rescued equine, an RSPCA Equine Rehoming Officer at the time, Sally Learoyd, came up with the idea of running competitions specifically for rescued equines.  Sally suggested that with Cathy’s involvement in Showing perhaps this was something she was prepared to take on.  Cathy immediately thought that Equifest, held at the East of England Showground, Peterborough, would be the ideal platform for these classes, as she says ‘I had had the pleasure of Judging at Equifest on a couple of occasions and the Show seemed to be the perfect event to launch these classes’.  In 2011 Cathy contacted Betsy at Equifest and was invited to meet the Committee and put forward a proposal to introduce these classes at the 2012 Sho.  At the time, Jon Phillips was the Chairman of Equifest and when the pitch was made, he immediately offered to sponsor the classes, which was very welcomed.  It was also agreed that the RSPCA would bring some ponies to the Show to highlight the work done to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome the most neglected and abused animals.  With just two classes to begin with, an Open In-Hand and an Open Ridden Class they proved a great success and several of the ponies taken to Equifest by the RSPCA also found new homes.  Over the next few years, the Classes grew in number and popularity and the RSPCA brought more ponies to the show and for two years, of the sixteen ponies brought to the ‘Rescue Village’, fifteen were adopted into new homes during the Show.

Due to the amazing response to the Rescue Classes and Rescue Village, Cathy, with the invaluable support of the Equifest team, opened it up to the other leading Equine Charities and again it proved a great success.  Without the support of Equifest, in supporting both the Rescue Classes and hosting the Rescue Village, there would not be such a positive opportunity for the equine charities to highlight their work and achievements in equine welfare.  Equifest provides the perfect opportunity to showcase the amazing work that the equine charities do, in rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming the most damaged of rescue horses and ponies. 

Sadly, Covid stopped all the shows, and this coupled with the sale of the East of England Showground, everything was uncertain.  However, with the move to Arena UK in 2023, Equifest was up and running again.

RESS has been a long-held dream for Cathy, and it has only been since she has found the right group of like-minded and passionate people to form a committee, that the Society has been formed. 

In 2024, in conjunction with Equifest, and with generous sponsorship. we are reintroducing the Rescue Village with leading equine charities bringing horses and ponies to the Show.  In addition, we are very excited to be launching the Rescue Equine Showing Society at the Show in 2024, and we are also running a number of qualifying Shows with the Championship at Equifest on Saturday 3rd August 2024.  Without the support of Equifest we would not be in this position and are very grateful for their support and commitment to the classes and Rescue Village. Long term, RESS is aiming to provide a platform to showcase how rescued equines can go on to lead healthy and successful lives and to promote rehoming from the leading equine charities.  RESS will also be looking at providing training and bursaries for members from 2025, and a series of competitions culminating in Championships at Equifest.