Three animal lovers will be covering 150km in 15 days to help animals in need

A team of three animal lovers have pledged to run, cycle, horse ride and walk 150km each in just 15 days to raise money for the RSPCA.

Claudia Corner, equine operations manager at the RSPCA, Inspector Suzanna Smith, and Charlotte Neary, the equine yard supervisor at RSPCA Millbrook Animal Centre in Surrey have decided to take on the challenge starting this week.

Claudia Corner, who came up with the idea, said: “I’ve worked for the RSPCA for a long time and I really wanted to do something that would be positive during these difficult times. I am very passionate about animal welfare and in particular equines and this has been a huge part of my life for the last 20 years. During the coronavirus crisis, all charities have suffered a huge loss of income and this is my small way of giving something back.

“I’ve never been a runner so thought I could do a bit of running, walking, cycling and riding and clock up the miles together. I even ran a 10k for the first time the other day and I was so proud of myself.”

In 2019, the charity received reports of more than 21,000 incidents involving horses and by the end of the year it had nearly 900 in its care, leaving its rescue centres full and funding hundreds more in private boarding.

Since lockdown, the RSPCA has received more than 2,000 reports about horses but fears much worse is to come as the Covid crisis sparks a UK and global recession.

Equine welfare charities are already under immense strain, following the horse crisis which was sparked off by the 2008 financial crash and the sector is extremely concerned about the welfare repercussions for horses in the months ahead.

The RSPCA is appealing for vital donations to help it prepare for an influx of horses and ponies desperately in need of help.

Claudia and her colleagues were inspired by this to take on the challenge.  Charlotte, who has worked at RSPCA Millbrook for nine years, said: “I thought it sounded like a huge challenge when Claudia first suggested it but with some support from my husband, I decided I could do it.

“In these difficult times, it was important to me to raise some funds and raise awareness of the stories of the horses I have looked after. We had nearly 900 horses in our care at the end of last year but they are not just numbers to me, each and every one is an individual animal who has overcome some awful times, and now they are in lovely homes. If it wasn’t for the team at the RSPCA they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know love or have their happily ever after. All the horses I have rehabilitated and rehomed have taught me something along the way too, so I feel like I am giving something back to them by doing this.”

Inspector Suzanne Smith, who primarily covers Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, has been an avid equestrian all her life and is passionate about her role as an equine officer. When the Coronavirus crisis hit, she knew not only was her day to day job rescuing animals going to get tougher but the financial strain it caused would also make caring for horses more difficult.

She said: “When Covid-19 hit and we saw the effect on charities, I wanted to do something to help. I was very wary to commit at first as I only took up running last year at which point I could barely run for more than one minute. So to cover 150k in 15 days is going to be a big challenge for me. Equines alone cost the RSPCA £4.8 million a year and if we want to continue to be able to help them, I knew I had to say yes to this challenge!”

To support Claudia, Suzanne and Charlotte’s challenge, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/team/equineteamanimal

If you are inspired to take on your own challenge, visit rspca.org.uk/virtualchallenges