In her capacity as president, Anne, Princess Royal attended the 2017 National Equine Forum (NEF) where she saw a presentation by Lynn Petersen. Ms Petersen is the chief executive of the British Horse Society. The focus of her presentation was on the charity’s changing lives through horses initiative.
The British Horse Society is working in connection with secondary schools, youth organisations and Heads Together – the mental health campaign started by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. It seeks to bring at-risk and disengaged youth, ageing from 14-16, engaged with society by interacting with and working with horses. Those attending the forum heard from 16-year-old Liam on how the scheme has helped him. He told the Horse & Hound: “You have not changed my life, you’ve saved my life.”
Princess Anne added: “It is their [the young peoples’] contribution that makes a difference because horses cannot manage without us.
“For those youngsters to find somebody needs them is a real revelation. And if that is horses, then that is fine.”
Horses have played an integral part in the Princess Royal’s life. She competed as an Olympic athlete, but she has spent much of her time working with charities that help others through horses.
After Ms Petersen’s presentation, the Princess Royal drew on advice given by football legend, Sir Bobby Charlton some years before: “‘Do not ever apologise for horses.’ He then expanded on why — not just through [the enjoyment they gave] his daughter, but how the family got involved and how everybody had a role to play,” she said.
She continued: “I thought it was a really interesting comment from someone who said he never had any involvement in horses. He really understood.”
And it is through Liam’s story that he told afterwards that brought this point home. If youth can become re-engaged with the world through interacting with horses, it can help them reconnect with their families and friends as well.