The first strategy for the horse industry in England and Wales will be launched today by the British Horse Industry Confederation (BHIC), in partnership with Defra, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Welsh Assembly Government.

The strategy will set out a clear vision of where the horse industry aspires to be in 10 years time, what actions are needed to achieve this, and how the government can help the industry achieve its goals.

Jim Knight, Defra’s Minister for the Horse, will be introducing the strategy at Lee Valley Riding Centre in Leyton, London. Knight is a keen horseman who learnt to ride on National Trust land in Bromley, southeast London.

British Horse Industry Confederation chairman Graham Cory, Paralympic gold medallist, Lee Pearson and Britain’s leading dressage rider Carl Hester, will also be speaking at the launch.

The purpose of the strategy is to better utilise the £3.4bn horse industry by enhancing its contribution to the social, educational and sporting life of the nation.

The strategy aims to improve the horse industry’s image. Equestrian activities will become available to those with mental health problems and those in young offender institutions, in a bid to destroy the ‘elitist’ image of riding. It is hoped that such a move will boost the economic performance of equestrian businesses and encourage sporting excellence.

The strategy is also geared towards better breeding of horses and ponies and new and improved bridleways for off-road riding and carriage driving.

The final document has taken nine months to prepare, following a three-month consultation period on the draft strategy earlier this year. Six strategic issues have been identified by the BHIC as being essential to the industry’s growth. The BHIC has chosen an industry ‘champion’ to lead the development of each part of the strategy.

Aims of the first horse industry strategy

1. To enhance the horse industry’s image and increase participation
2. To boost the economic performance of equine businesses
3. To raise equestrian skills, training and standards
4. To increase access to off-road riding and carriage driving
5. To encourage sporting excellence
6. To improve the quality and breeding of our horses and ponies

  • Check the strategy out at www.defra.gov.uk/rural/horses or request a hard copy from DEFRA publications (tel: 08459 556000), quoting PB 11323