The British Horse Society Scotland has won a £5,000 Scottish Enterprise Tourism and Innovation Development Award for an initiative that caters for riders who travel with their horses.

Horses Welcome will list selected bed and breakfasts that offer equine accommodation. The BHS Scotland has already secured an £2,000 sponsorship from South Essex Insurance Brokers to fund the pilot project, which will take place on the Scottish Borders next year, and intends to roll the scheme out to the entire country if the pilot is successful.

To gain BHS approval, B&Bs must pass an inspection to ensure they meet a number of “pragmatic” standards, according to Scottish Development Officer for the BHS, Helene Mauchlen. “[We] will include grazing only as well as stabling. We will also approve cattle courts and existing buildings as long as they are safe, roomy and airy, and meet other criteria such as suitable access, parking, cleanliness and fresh water.”

Landowners and farmers will have to pay a small fee to join the scheme but, says Mauchlen, they will then gain access to “a new marketing tool to help boost business.”

“Making more of Scotland’s tourism assets for our visitors by encouraging innovation in this way is crucial if we are to help our tourism industry remain competitive with the rest of the world,” agrees Julie Franchetti of Scottish Enterprise. “Horses Welcome is an excellent idea to help improve the visitor experience of the increasing number of equestrian tourists who want to take their horses with them on holiday.”

BHS Scotland had been developing the Horses Welcome project for a couple of years but “the time is right now because of the change in the Scottish land legislation,” according to Mauchlen. “Greater access has opened up more opportunities for tourism.”

To help riders exploit these opportunities to the fullest, BHS Scotland is also working on a Scottish Equestrian Tourism website, which will feature interesting trails and equestrian experiences across the country.