British Dressage (BD) has launched a free associate membership in the hope of tapping into the sport’s unaffiliated sector.

The new tier of membership will allow enthusiasts access to horse and rider results on BD’s website, plus snippets from BD magazine and access to the BD members’ forum.

Some 950 associate members have signed already.

BD chief executive Amanda Bond said: “I feel BD should be representatives for — and an advisory body to — all dressage riders at all levels. We’ve got to bring unaffiliated riders into our fold.”

Non-members can compete in BD prelim level classes, so only 14,000 of the 36,000 riders who compete in dressage events are fully paid up BD members.

British Eventing has an associate membership option at a cost of £40 and British Showjumping a supporter’s membership for £29.

New BD associate member Chris Lawton is full of praise for the idea: “My wife has two horses and I always felt a bit left out, but this enables me to be a part of it as a non-riding member and support her.”

Associate BD membership offers no riding privileges.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (22 April, ’10)