With competitions on hold or cancelled, and the equestrian world in lock-down we talk to Horse & Country Chairman and CEO, Heather Killen about how the platform is keeping viewers entertained with more time on their hands.
1. We have all had to make some difficult decisions on how to keep running at this particular time how are you coping at Horse & Country?
Fortunately we are operating in a sector where operations can be managed remotely, and if anything, our services are now more in demand than ever. The H&C team is a flexible lot — we already work across several different offices and geographies, and we have all been working from home for some time now. We use Google Meets and Skype mostly to stay in touch. It takes a little more effort, but all teams are operating pretty much as usual for now.
2. As we are all aware there is currently more time to turn to Horse & Country to watch great programming. What can viewers watch?
Indeed, viewers can tune in to our completely free streamed channel, H&C Free, that you can find under the “Channels” menu on our website or apps. Anyone who has watched H&C in the past will recognise its mix of training and learning programming, sports highlights, entertainment and documentary shows about people and horses.
At the moment we also have some great new series that were already in the pipeline when the lock-down due to Covid 19 happened, including a training show with Christopher Burton and Connie Colfox, called Burto’s Basics, a return to Talland School of Equitation for Half Halt with Pammy Hutton, and a brand new show with Pippa Funnell called Training with Pippa, that are available to H&C Plus subscribers.
We are also running a new show especially for these testing times, called “The Check In”, in which one of our presenters will interview different personalities by Skype – riders, reps from governing bodies, and equestrian sector companies — to see how they’re coping in the current crisis. This will go out on our H&C Free channel, and we hope to make at least a couple of these per week.
3. Without doubt ‘binge watching’ may be the choice for some viewers especially on a Sunday afternoon is there anything you would recommend or is a particular favourite?
We have put together a whole range of box sets of some of our favourite shows for just this purpose, including masterclasses in different disciplines, our reality shows including All Star Academy, Carl & Charlotte favourites, and lots more. We’re also starting to create channels with partners that offer specific collections for their communities — viewers can take a look at the Arena UK channel or the new Organised Equestrian channel, for example.
We have a special bundle of vintage Burghley Horse Trials that I won’t be missing, for sure! And we are bringing back events from the FEI archive that will be shows in our H&C Free channel as well.
5. We all need our fix of ‘feel good’ tv from such programmes as ‘Daisy Dines With’ are there any other particular highlights?
My personal favourite is ‘Keeping up with the Kaimanawas’, about the Wilson sisters in New Zealand, who set out to prepare some wild stallions for competition. We have a feature length film, called Mustang Ride, in which they ride a group of wild horses from Mexico to the Canadian border. And speaking of the US, it’s hard to resist Taming Wild, the show about Elsa Sinclair, who earns the trust of a wild mustang without the use of any tack or other kit. A pretty amazing story.
6. All horse and pony owners are wanting to keep them in the best of health where can we turn for advice?
I would refer viewers with specific problems, or just wanting to learn more about equine health and well-being, to our Vet Essentials series. We have individual shows on colic, laminitis, Equine Metabolic Syndrome, ulcers, and a number of other common conditions that affect horses. If in doubt, still call the vet of course.
Under our Box Sets section on the main landing page of the service, we have masterclasses for dressage, jumping and eventing, with such luminaries as William Fox-Pitt, Isabell Werth, Laura Kraut, Ingrid Klimke, and many more. So even if it’s hard to get out riding at the moment, viewers can tune up on a whole new set of training techniques for when we can get back in the saddle.
8. No one knows when the current situation will change but let’s be positive what plans do you have for programming later in the year?
In the expectation that constraints are being lifted gradually, we hope to be back out filming our training and learning shows before too long — even before competitive sports can get back in the frame. But on the optimistic assumption that life will return to some kind of normal state after the summer, we have lots of dressage and jumping from the UK, plus some exciting events from the continent and the US to look forward to.
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