H&H finds out about ongoing efforts to improve diversity in the equestrian industry, and what more still needs to be done
GREAT strides have been made in improving diversity in the equestrian industry – although there is of course more work to be done.
Providers of higher and further education are working together to increase and improve access to their land-based courses to under-represented communities, while campaigners are working with brands and sporting bodies to improve representation.
Linda Greening, head of inclusivity at Hartpury University Centre, told H&H she approached Landex, Land-Based Colleges & Universities Aspiring to Excellence, about a joint plan.
She said it came from her role as education liaison officer with the BAME Equine and Rural Activities Focus Group (BERF).
“The executive members were very keen to pass on details to their widening participation groups,” she said. “I think a lot of us have been challenged to address the high proportion of white students we’ve historically attracted.”
Ms Greening said the group is working on an action plan, and outcomes from that, on linking with education providers’ regional communities.
“We [Hartpury] are developing a good relationship with St James City Farm, and I know Hadlow College has a good relationship with Ebony Horse Club, and there are lots more community-based projects that could be involved,” she said, adding that the range of equestrian courses on offer at the different institutions gives a huge number of options for careers in the equestrian industry.
“It opens so many doors,” she said, adding that the colleges and universities can also share imagery and resources to provide role models to young people from under-represented communities.
“I think the community-based outreach is a fantastic way to reach families; educating them as much as the young people,” she said. “I’m really excited about this.”
BERF founder Sandra Murphy said Ms Greening’s “fantastic” work addresses an issue she has raised before, of the lack of opportunities for young people from under-represented communities to progress in the equestrian industry .
Ms Murphy is now on the British Equestrian (BEF) equality engagement group, and has been working with BEF member bodies.
“The Pony Club, for example, has been really proactive; they’ve got one of our BERF members on the handbook cover,” she told H&H. “We’re also collaborating with a leading equestrian brand, which is looking at working with us, on design, like hats with skin colour chin straps, and using BERF members to do their modelling. They’ll be so lifted to see their pictures in magazines; isn’t it wonderful we can do things like that?”
Ms Murphy also cited the diversity presentations at ths 2021 National Equine Forum (news, 11 March) and progress in her plans for a “centre of BAME excellence” for riders.
“We’ve sent out the proposal for the centre, now we need support and guidance,” she said. “We need a pilot, to see if it works, but we need people to believe in the vision. If we build it, people will come; if we don’t, there’s nowhere to go.”
The FEI’s centenary celebrations, which launched on 28 May, aim to “shine a spotlight on diversity in equestrian sport”.
“The FEI’s 100-year celebration is about bringing together each and every individual who connects with the horse at any level,” said FEI president Ingmar De Vos.
“We want this to be an inclusive celebration commemorating our collective journey over the past 100 years and looking ahead to shaping the future of equestrian sports together as a united community.
“Equestrian sport is rich in diversity and the one key factor that binds everyone together is our shared connection with and passion for the horse. For equestrian sport to continue to grow and flourish we need to make sure that together we cherish all members of our community and that everyone contributes to the key values at the heart of the sport.”
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