On the evening of 10th April, I received a series of text messages from Matthew Leigh. I had absolutely no idea he was copying footage from our CCTV cameras, and he says he's been doing this for years.
This page is to explain that not only do we NOT respond to blackmail and threats, but we also take the security and privacy of our Clients extremely seriously.
This video, taken on 6th November, 2016 shows a piebald pony being ridden in the school. We remember him well, he had developed a habit of napping near the gate as his previous owner was inexperienced and not capable of schooling him out of it.
Any experienced horse person can see that far from being classed as a negative experience for the pony, he was strongly ridden through his napping and i'm delighted to say, he made the most fabulous family pony when he was eventually sold to his new home, where he is still.
I have no idea why Matthew would think this footage could be detrimental to our business, though of course I suppose it's possible that someone with little or no experience of horses might not understand what was going on.
This video, taken on 22nd June, 2017 has been shortened to give a very poor impression of what was going on, obviously to shock and disgust people!
In fact, this horse is a 16.3hds heavy hunter. He is fabulous to ride, but his ground manners were quite shocking and he'd given his last owner a very hard time!
On the lunge, he mowed the handler down twice, (she is 5'5 and weighs just under 8st). He refused to respect her personal space and was fixated on going through the gate and back to the other horses. After eventually starting to listen, the lunging session was completed, however, once he was taken to the gate to come out, he again forgot his manners and tried to take charge. The handler didn't want to be crushed against the gatepost or trapped between the gate and the stables so it was imperative the horse moved back.
Look at his body language - anyone with knowledge of horses can see he's pushing the boundaries and when the whole situation is revealed, it's easy to understand why he's being berated.
It appears Matthew has been copying footage for years. We had no idea this was happening at all. When we've looked around, we've seen he has cameras focussed on our menage as shown in the marked photographs. Obviously, this area is used by our clients, many of whom are small children and we are utterly horrified that they have been filmed without their (or their parents') consent, so we contacted the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) for advice. The Law regarding CCTV footage is crystal clear. Footage may not be stored for longer than 31 days unless there is evidence of a crime and it may be needed by the Police. The ICO were of the opinion that the breach was serious and implored us to report the matter to the Police.
If you have ridden in our menage over the last few years and are concerned there may be footage of you or your child which has been saved without your consent, then we would suggest you contact Greater Manchester Police and quote the crime reference 1470/1604
When we built our menage in 2006, we used simple post and rail, we had absolutely no idea our clients and ourselves would be filmed over a period of years and there is nothing we can do now but make people aware.
Moving forward, we have boarded the side of the menage where the cameras are. Whilst we know the filming is still taking place, for us it has to be business as usual and if you are concerned that covert footage may be taken of you and stored for some reason, then we will be happy to take our horses to another, more private location for you to try.
We do not abuse or use excessive force against our horses. If you see any videos shared which have been taken from CCTV situate on our property, especially of children, do please contact us and let us know, so we can inform the Police and ICO.
Here are the locations of cameras focused on our menage that we're currently aware of