Riding schools are relatively unscathed by the credit crunch, according to the results of an annual survey of local authority licensed premises — and stables have told H&H that business is better than ever.

The Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS) research undertaken in November last year shows there are seven more licensed schools than in 2007, making a total of 2,006.

ABRS chairman Julian Marczak said: “We are quite buoyed up by the news.”

Membership of the ABRS is also up, at 400 members, 13 more than this time last year.

Mr Marczak said: “This is heartening news for an industry which has suffered from soaring overheads and increasing red tape, leading to the closure of some establishments well before the present financial squeeze.”

The British Horse Society (BHS), which has 979 affiliated riding schools and livery yards across the UK, has reported a similar situation. Chris Doran said: “Numbers seem to be static, with some new establishments joining and others leaving.”

Richard Botham of Bogs Hall Stables in Kirkby Malzeard, North Yorkshire says business is up after a poor January.

“We are at least as busy as we were last year,” he told H&H.

And Hailey Wilder, centre manager of Hall Place Equestrian Centre in Tilehurst, Reading, went further, saying: “Business is better for us than last year. We have lots of new clients.”

In January, London riding schools told H&H they had seen a surge in people riding over the Christmas holidays.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (19 March, ’09)