Further to Horse & Hound’s revelations of the contents of the Deloitte & Touche report into the failings of Britain’s equine bodies, a second report published last week reiterates Deloitte’s warnings regarding unity.
Commissioned by DEFRA and the British Horse Industry Confederation (BHIC), the Henley Centre report has found that the single most important challenge facing the industry is the need for greater co-operation from all sectors.
Muriel Colquhoun, secretary of the Scottish Equestrian Federation, is adamant that the reports must be taken seriously in their entirety.
“To ignore Deloitte and fail to implement its recommendations would be at our peril,” she says. “Add to that the work done by the Henley Centre: the similarities in the reports are striking. [If we ignore it] we will have failed to take this one chance to make a difference for the future, and it would be an appalling lack of vision and poor business acumen, verging on a neglect of duty by the boards of BEF members.”
Both the Deloitte & Touche and Henley Centre reports allude to substantial missed opportunities: money in UK Sport for the Olympic effort; sponsors keen to back a “GB equestrian team” across the disciplines from Pony Club to driving to show jumping; funding with education and schools.
It is evident that this is “make or break” time: the government is offering more funds to Britain’s horse industry than ever, provided it pulls together and moves into the 21st century.
As Muriel Colquhoun says: “It is time to unite, work together and take the advice of the experts, and really make the equestrian sports and industry in the United Kingdom the envy of the world.”
The Henley Centre report
Joint research on the horse industry in Great Britain commissioned by DEFRA and the British Horse Industry Confederation suggests five specific issues key to the industry’s growth:
- The wider promotion of the British horse industry both nationally and internationally, including developing a marketing and communications programme and identifying a central body to lead it
- The promotion of British Thoroughbreds and the development of a British sport horse, including improving the sport horse breeding sector’s organisation and overseas marketing
- The development of “joined up” thinking and best practice in the promotion of leisure riding and sporting excellence, including linking the grass roots and the top tier and promoting riding schools as community assets
- The promotion of UK-based horse tourism, including providing a national framework for equestrian tourism and promoting best practice
- The continued improvement of off-road riding opportunities, including uniting and strengthening the industry’s efforts behind a lead organisation to promote its needs, publicising them nationally and locally, and working with other groups such as cyclists
The Henley Centre report can be viewed in full at: www.defra.gov.uk/rural/horses