Riding loses ‘elite’ image

  • Equestrian sports will now be accessible to more people, thanks to a £170,000 grant from Sport England. In a bid to increase the levels of people participating in sport, Sport England allocated the funds to the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) who has divided the money between non-Olympic equestrian organisations such as the British Horse Society (BHS), Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS), The Pony Club, Endurance GB and Riding for the Disabled. The BEF is now working with each individual organisation to determine how the money can be used to broaden participation in equestrian sports.

    Destroying what some perceive to be the rather haughty image of equestrianism by encouraging a wider participation is one of the key aims of the BHIC Strategy for the Horse Industry. At its launch last November, Minister for the Horse Jim Knight said: “If we can really the potential for equestrianism in respect of tourism and economic development and encourage education authorities to introduce young people to riding then I think we would start to break down the elitist image.”

    The Sport England funding has already enabled the BHS to introduce children who live in the urban environment to horse riding and care. Four projects linking under privileged schools in urban areas such as Liverpool to BHS approved riding schools has already proved extremely successful.

    Endurance GB is increasing their membership and broadening awareness of their sport by using the pledged funds to improve marketing, advertising and promotional literature. Marketing workshops have already taken place which according to BEF Consultant for Facilities Tim Hadaway, were “really well received”: “We are working on sustainable projects to benefit the member organisations for years to come,” he explained.

    The addition of sixteen new member riding schools to the ABRS – an increase of 4% since October – has been another preliminary success. The ABRS is also increasing benefits of membership by attracting a selection of companies to offer discounts to ABRS members and organising business development days to encourage good business practice and development in riding schools

    BEF non-Olympic organisations will all be using their Sport England money to increase participation over the next six months and a review will take place before the end of the year. With continued efforts from BEF member organisations, it is hoped there will be a dramatic increase in the numbers involved in equestrian sports.

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