WHITELEE Windfarm recently hosted the first ever British Horse Society windfarm familiarisation event for horses and riders.
The horse society welcomed 18 riders to Europe’s largest windfarm as they were taken through a new programme that introduces windfarms in Scotland as locations for horse riding.
Footage of the visit will be used for a new DVD detailing useful hints for horse riding on windfarms and the best methods of familiarising the animals with their new surroundings.
The event was so successful the horse society have expressed an interest in holding another similar event in the near future.
Operated by ScottishPower Renewables, Whitelee Windfarm has been operational since 2008 and has become a haven for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and other outdoor enthusiasts.
Its unique visitor centre has welcomed approximately 200,000 people since opening just over two years ago, with tens of thousands of visitors making use of the 90kms of tracks.
Whitelee has been utilised by equestrians of all levels since it opened, including a local riding school and was identified by BHS as an ideal venue following earlier visits to the windfarm.
Use of windfarms in Scotland for activities such as horse riding is possible due to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code but SPR are working with their project landowners throughout the UK to try and create agreements that will make future developments accessible to the public.
With 24 operational windfarms in the UK, ScottishPower Renewables are one the country’s leading renewable energy companies and are fully aware of the new horse riding facilities that its projects create.
Simon Christian, UK Managing Director for ScottishPower Renewables, said: “Windfarm projects like Whitelee have opened up hundreds of kilometres of tracks for equestrians that may never have been accessible before the projects were constructed and we hope events like this will encourage even more people to take advantage of what windfarms have to offer.
“We have seen firsthand that with appropriate training and familiarisation some horses and riders can safely use windfarm tracks for hacking and we welcome the BHS’s efforts to highlight the great resources that renewable energy projects have made available to riders.”
Mark Weston, director of access, safety and welfare at the British Horse Society, said: “The familiarisation event held by the British Horse Society Scotland and ScottishPower Renewables at Whitelee Wind Farm demonstrates how useful such events can be for riders to familiarise their horses with new windfarms in Scotland, to try to allay any fears they might have and to reassure themselves that their horse is happy with the presence of the turbines before they ride close to any.
“The BHS urges all power companies who have developed windfarms to facilitate such events for equestrians.”
A video of the event can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=nc22vxAcK8s&feature=plcp