Why Britain needs better bridleways

  • Horse & Hound Online survey reveals that the majority of Britain’s bridleways are neglected

    As the British Horse Society’s (BHS) Jubilee Access Week approaches (25 May-4 June), Horse & Hound Online can exclusively reveal that nearly three-quarters of its users describe their local bridleways as only average or below average.

    Around a third of users claim their bridleways are in poor condition, while 4% graded them as unusable. A significant 16% of respondents have no local public bridleways where they can exercise their horse safely away from the roads.

    The BHS say improving access to the countryside and increasing the provisionof off-road riding is an ongoing battle, which urgently needs the support of every horse rider.

    The society is making huge strides in improving access for horse riders and drivers around the country,” said BHS spokesperson, Nichola Gregory, “but at the same time we are constantly losing existing bridleways to new roads, housing estates and other developments.

    We would like more horse owners to take responsibility for their local bridleways and help us to improve off-road riding in their area. We would be delighted to support any individuals who would like to take positive action to help improve their bridleways and assist our hardworking access volunteers.”

    During Jubilee Access Week the BHS will be presenting awards to local authorities, landowners and individuals, which have played a part in improving equestrian access over the last year.

    The Access Week awards are our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the people who have helped provide better off-road riding,” says Nichola.

    This year’s awards include 12 route creation awards for new permissive bridleways or routes, while nine individuals or local authorities which have consistently worked to open up bridleways will receive good guy awards.

    “While we hope our “Route Creation” and “Good Guys” awards will encourage more people to get involved, the simplest way for horse owners to help improve facilities in their area is to join the BHS. Bronze membership costs only £10 a year, and by becoming a member you are helping cover the costs of new routes and the maintenance of existing paths.”

    If you would like to get involved please contact the BHS’s Access department or visit www.bhs.org.uk

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