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Survey shows riding is on the up

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The British Equestrian Trade Association’s National Equestrian Survey 2019 has revealed an increase in horse riding over the past five years. This was among the findings from the first stage of the survey presented by BETA executive director Claire Williams at the National Equine Forum, in London, on Thursday 7 March.

The initial research, focusing on the number of horse riders and owners in Britain, the scale of lapsed riding and the barriers that prevent return and take-up, provides a clear and accurate picture of this part of the British equestrian landscape. The specially commissioned survey, which takes place every five years and was based on 6,151 nationally representative interviews, showed:

Number of horse riders: In 2014, there were 2.7 million riders following a steady decline in horse riding over the previous 10 years. Today, rider numbers are at 3 million, showing an indication of recovery, with not only an upturn in the number of people who have ridden in the past 12 months, but also an increase in those regularly riding at least once a month. There are now 1.8 million regular riders – back to levels seen between 2005 and 2010 – compared with 1.3 million in 2014. The greatest rise has been among 25- to 44-year-olds, an age group that showed a dramatic fall in riding during the previous five years.

Number of horse owners: In 2014, there was evidence of a steady decline in the number of Britain’s horse-owning households, from 451,000 four years earlier to 446,000. The downward trend has continued, with the figure now standing at 374,000.

Scale of lapsed riders: Seven per cent of households in Britain have members who have ridden in the past 12 months. A further 20 per cent have lapsed riders, while 73 per cent have never ridden.

Barriers to returning to the saddle: The survey shows that there are five million lapsed rider households in Britain, but 650,000 of them are interested in riding again. The two key growing barriers to this are access and proximity to horses.

“Although this is just the first stage of the National Equestrian Survey – we still have the detailed reports on the equestrian economy, spending and population to come – the future of equestrian sport looks encouraging,” said Claire Williams. “The decline in rider numbers has been halted and the number of people riding on a regular basis has grown to give a far more positive outlook compared with five years ago. We are really looking forward to seeing the other parts of the survey, which are currently at fieldwork stage, with publication due in April/May. We are extremely grateful to Sport England, which through the British Equestrian Federation part-funded the survey work, which in 2019 has been the most robust ever and conducted online for the very first time.”

Although BETA members will each receive a free overview document, orders are now being taken for copies of the 2019 BETA National Equestrian Survey. For costs and to place an order, contact Philippa Macintosh, telephone 01937 587062 or email [email protected].

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