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Jeanette Allen, CEO of The Horse Trust

Hay There, Jeanette!

We enjoy sharing stories from our team, and we thought it was about time we brought you closer to our wonderful CEO of almost 14 years! Jeanette has been with our charity through many our our key moments in recent history, and has seen us evolve alongside developments into the understanding of equine wellbeing. 

Jeanette has always had a love for horses and has ridden since she was very young. Following that, she worked in the charity sector for a big part of her career; a path which eventually led her to The Horse Trust.

As our annual Horses, Hounds and Heroes (HHH) event is soon approaching, Jeanette is warming up her vocal chords for our fabulous Horse Parade finale.

Read on as Jeanette reflects on some highs, lows and memorable moments with The Horse Trust.

How long have you been at The Horse Trust?

I began here on 1st September 2010 so, wow, that’s 13 and a half years!

What were you doing before, and what lead you down a career path towards helping horses?

Previously I was CEO of a human medical charity and before that I had fundraising roles in the NHS and the NSPCC. I went on to the charity sector after a successful career in the commercial world as making a positive difference became very important to me.

Truth be told as soon as I came into the sector I wanted to work in the field of animal welfare. I had ridden since being a tiny tot and so when the role at The Horse Trust came up, I jumped at the opportunity.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I was convinced I would go into medicine; however, the very idea of the A level subjects required eventually put me off!

What is your favourite part of the job?

There are two very different answers to this question. Firstly, the big answer, the amazing team we have built and the facilities we now have, thanks to our supporters, deliver amazing ‘real life’ impact to improve the lives not only of horses living here but of many thousands of horses across the country. Seeing the positive effect our broad range of work has is hugely exciting; from helping equestrian sports, to understanding horse behaviour better, to training first responders in animal rescue, to seeing the growing impact our #WeightToWin project is having tackling equine obesity in the show ring.

The other answer is coming up the driveway here at our Home of Rest. The very first time I came here, I found seeing those beautiful fields full of stunning horses living wonderful lives utterly inspiring. I still feel that everyday all these years on.

HHH will be coming around soon, and we can’t wait. How has the event developed since it started, and if you can choose, what is your favourite part of the day?

HHH was a very scary experiment the first time we put it on. The Trust had never put on a big public event in recent memory and we relied heavily on our friends in the Military to help us out that first day. Since then, it has grown and grown and become a major fixture in the local calendar. The arena displays are amazing but naturally I have to pick the Parade of horses at the end as being my favourite bit, getting my hands on a microphone to talk about our fabulous residents is always a thrill.

Is there a horse at The Horse Trust that holds a special place in your heart? If so, why?

Honestly there are two that are still here along with some that have passed on like Romulus and Rocket Ron.

Piglet, who is still with us, was my very first rescue who we took in during my first month. He was in a terrible state and had been caught by a local police officer who needed help. One of Piggy’s eyes was hugely infected, he had suffered a botched castration leaving him with a testicle in his abdomen that needed removing along with his eye. He also had every parasite you can think of including tapeworm. He nearly died on the operating table giving us all a huge scare. Even at his advanced age, my little pirate pony still trots over to me if I call.

I’m sure everyone can guess my other special boy; it is of course Teddy. After he nearly died whilst only 6 or 7 weeks old, stretched out on my lap on a stable floor, then suddenly took a deep breath and tried to stand, I knew he was special. He’s been fabbytastic ever since and though he can’t sit on my lap anymore, he will always own a chunk of my heart.

What is the secret to being CEO for a relatively small but highly impactful charity like The Horse Trust? What would you say to young people wanting to be in your position?

There’s a few secrets and they are what I would say to anyone wanting a similar career.

Be totally committed, this is way more than a full-time job.

Keep creating, innovating and imagining and surround yourself with likeminded people. Don’t let routine make you stale.

Trust those expert colleagues to be brilliant, my job is in pulling together all of the threads, not trying to be expert at everything.

Keep reaching for the horizon and know it will always be moving.

Is there a day at The Horse Trust that stands out to you? This could be something funny, heartwarming, or memorable.

There are too many to pick one, honestly. It’s an amazing place to work where heat warming, funny and memorable happen daily. Our opening of the newly refurbished yard in 2013 and our 2018 event commemorating 100 years since Armistice do jump out as being particularly special days. Honestly whenever our wonderful Royal Patron is here you can guarantee all of the above! The funny usually being at my expense!

What do you wish more people knew about The Horse Trust?

That we are a charity. That service horses, previously owned by the public purse, rely on us to provide a dignified retirement if they cannot be rehomed elsewhere. There is no pension for equine civil servants, there never has been and there honestly never will be which is why we work so closely with our partners in the Army, the Police and the Royal Mews along with other qualifying institutions. That folk should visit us to get up close to these fabulous gentle giants.

Finally, that whilst The Home of Rest remains our beating heart, our other work in the wider sector leads the way in many areas that affect horses. Our research funding programme, our world leading expertise in equine behaviour and large animal rescue, our vital role in bringing the whole equestrian sector together to advise government, these things and many more make The Horse Trust even bigger than The Home of Rest.

What a wonderful chat, and a great note to end it on. We’ll leave you to it as CEO duties call! Thank you, Jeanette!

Your kind support enables us to provide the veterinary treatment our beloved residents need, ensuring their healthy and happy retirement, respite and recovery. To find out how you can support us, head to the link below.

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