Equestrian trade’s post-Covid recovery appears better than feared *H&H Plus*

  • The British Equestrian Trade Association has surveyed riders to find out the effect the past year has had on their riding, owning and spending. H&H finds out more, and what the industry can expect

    PARTS of the equestrian industry appear to be emerging from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic in a better position than had been feared, research indicates.

    The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) looked into how Covid had been affecting the horse world, from riding and horse-owning to spending and competing, in a similar manner to its four-yearly national equestrian survey.

    The research found that although the number of people who had ridden in the past year had dropped, from 3m in 2018 to 2.5m,  and one in 20 riders stopped riding altogether during the pandemic, 59% of riders said they had been in the saddle as much as, or more than, pre-Covid levels. One in 10 riders has been spending more on equestrian items during the pandemic, and two in 10 a lot less, or they have stopped spending altogether, but there has been a 38% increase in online spend.

    BETA executive director Claire Williams told H&H people had been very worried about the impact lockdown would have on trade, but the association had heard anecdotal evidence that things were not as bad as had been feared. This survey would confirm or disprove this, as well as acting as a mid-point between the 2018 and the 2022 major studies.

    “It’s not all roses but I think the industry is coming out better than we thought it would, going in,” she said, adding that the turn towards online shopping may be here to stay; 65% of riders said they were likely to continue shopping in this way.

    Those who were spending less cited reduced income and uncertainty as their reasons, while those who were spending more said they had more money as they were not competing, or more time and spare cash to review their needs.

    Ms Williams said the riding figures were not unexpected; many people were unable to ride during full lockdown, but others had more free time owing to the furlough scheme or working from home.

    “When you put the ‘normal’ figures against last year’s, they’re actually not that different,” she said, adding that more people aged 45+ had stopped riding or done so less frequently, possibly as younger people were home from school or university, and older riders may have been more likely to be shielding or concerned about the virus.

    “But it’s a positive message,” she said. “After the first lockdown, there was a nice bounce back when the shops reopened, and people like saddle-fitters were reporting hundreds of people on waiting lists. Things are going to get back to normal; we know they are.”

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