The highly desirable commodity of ‘free’ time has been one of the positives which has emerged form the Covid-19 restrictions – but for many volunteers it has simply shifted a workload in a different direction.

Not that anyone is complaining and none more so than Grant Turnbull, chair of horsescotland, who told me that he and his board had been extremely busy over the past few months, all to the benefit of this proactive organisation and its members.

Their efforts began in April when a series of virtual, online roadshows were organised to replace those previously arranged throughout Scotland for anyone in the Scottish equestrian community.

Well received by capacity audiences, they had proved useful in highlighting the largely unseen work of horsescotland, as well as gathering thoughts and suggestions on how together the community can mould the future of equestrianism in Scotland.

According to Grant, there was also valuable time spent within the organisation’s various steering groups, which consisted of representatives from a cross section of its member bodies.

Not only did he feel that it had brought about a more cohesive approach to working together, but may also have impacted on how they operate in the future – a familiar post-Covid projection from many an organisation.

Their contribution to the future planning of horsescotland’s activities has also proved highly beneficial, especially at a time when a full review of its strategy for 2021 to 2025 is under way.

It’s a pivotal time for the organisation as it prepares to present a strategic plan before sportscotland in the autumn which, in turn, will have implications on future funding for equestrianism in Scotland.

This umbrella organisation is supporting and working with all the competitive equestrian disciplines during this long-awaited time when the Scottish Government had embarked upon Phase 3 of its ‘unlock’ plan as it opens up the resumption of outdoor, non contact competition.

Its Facebook page offered a cautionary note about the need to follow Scottish Government guidance and urged riders to be part of a proactive Scottish equestrian community. We can only hope it takes note of this advice.

Following on from last month’s comment about lock-down initiatives, the Highland Pony Society has come up trumps with one of the best I’ve come across so far.

Totally unrelated to the build up to the society’s centenary celebrations planned for 2023, the aptly-named The Highland Pony 2020 Project is exactly what it said. The brainchild of HPS council member, Alison Payne – a former teacher and herself a Highland pony breeder and enthusiast – the 320-page account of the experience of members with their ponies has proved just the tonic many needed during the long hours of lock-down.

Contributions were invited from HPS members with a story to tell about a Highland pony alive during the past 20 years, so it’s current and relevant.

From an initial target of around of 170 stories, an amazing 309 were submitted outlining the versatility of this breed, which is enjoyed all over the world.

According to society president, Willie Ralston, the book was specifically aimed at the every-day member who enjoyed owning a Highland pony and wanted to share with others what they could do. With no costs to the contributors, it was all about inclusion and literally a labour of love led by Alison, who was aided by a small team who miraculously put it together and published for sale through the HPS office within a seven-week period.

With interesting stories and photographs it’s a must read for all native pony enthusiasts. My personal favourite photograph has to be that of Scott MacGregor aboard his well-known stallion, Fyfedene, galloping through the surf on a beach Down Under.

Talking of Down Under, I hope that, like me, readers have enjoyed following the account of Scottish vets working in the town of Bendigo in the state of Victoria. Commissioned for the BBC Scotland channel, ‘Scottish vets Down Under’ is a 12-part series that has followed the work of two young vets who have relocated to Australia.

Chris Allison, from Stirling, worked with small animals, including native Australian wild life, while Mike Whiteford, from Newburgh, Fife, concentrated on equines which are aplenty around this premier centre for the racing industry in Australia.

If readers have missed it I’d recommend a watch via the BBC i-Player service. However, having spoken with Mike only last week, I’ll be sharing his interesting story with readers later in the year.

Over recent months, the flat race season had managed to top up my life-long enthusiasm for