Lapsed and new riders took up the reins again at the first “Give horses a go” day held last Sunday (13 September).

And the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has declared it a resounding success.

Free riding sessions were laid on at 43 centres across England to encourage people to take part.

The initiative was coordinated by the BEF’s Hoof programme, funded by Sport England, to increase participation in sport.

“We’ve had lots of positive feedback from centres and participants alike with many of the centres reporting full sessions,” said Anna Hall, the BEF’s head of participation.

“Our insight tells us that a lot of people harbour a desire to ride horses but sometimes it can be difficult for them to know how to go about fulfilling this dream.”

The participating centres put on a variety of demonstrations from horseball to cross-country and grooming to help enthuse visitors.

Peter Marland said a taster session at the Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre in Gloucestershire “definitely tempted me to ride again”.

There were 24 new riders taking part in the centre’s taster sessions. Yard manager Nikki Secker said: “We have had lots of Pony Club membership enquiries and bookings for lessons from the day.”

For Sue Pursehouse’s husband Malcolm the day was the first time he had been on a horse for 15 years.

“It was how we met 43 years ago, we have never lost the love of horses, we’ve raised our children and now we’re back,” she said.

Sandip Kandola said she would be booking lessons after visiting Foxhills Riding Centre in Walsall with her husband and two children.

“I had a great time and didn’t even know this place was here,” she said.