Free riding lessons are on offer to encourage more women to take up riding.

The free sessions are part of the British Equestrian Federation’s (BEF) ‘This Girl Can Ride’ campaign.

More than 40 riding schools are taking part in the campaign, which is particularly aimed at women over the age of 26.

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Launching this month (September), the initiative is part of Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign that has been running since January.

Despite the number of people taking part in sport each week increasing, the number of over 16s riding once a week has gone down within the past 10 years.

Sport England figures show that 15.5million adults now play sport once a week – 1.4 million more than in 2005/6.

However, in the same time frame, the number of adults riding weekly has dropped from 314,600 to 279,300.

The figures also show that 58% of adults do not play any sport.

The free lessons will be available for beginners on BEF’s ‘Give Horses A Go’ day on 13 September.

Riders are also being encouraged to share their passion for horses with their friends.

The Facebook arm of the campaign calls on riders to sign up to a pledge to introduce a friend to riding and to share their experiences on social media.

BEF’s head of participation Anna Hall said that riding is a sport with great female role models and lots of active female participation.

“Sport England is doing a great job in encouraging women to take part in physical exercise, and as part of the riding community we have an important role to play,” she added.

“We know how passionate riders are about their sport.

“If each one of us could share that enthusiasm with one non-horsey friend, then we have the opportunity to introduce millions more women to riding.”

For more information and details about how to sign up for a free taster session, visit: www.hoofride.co.uk