Horsescotland hopes to increase participation and heighten awareness at Government level of what the equestrian community offers — and Scottish riders have to be on board. H&H finds out more
A NEW manifesto aims to put Scotland’s £335m equestrian economy on the Scottish Government’s radar, while increasing inclusivity and modernising regulation.
Last month Horsescotland released its 2021 document providing data on Scotland’s equestrian sector and the organisation’s plans for the next four years. It includes figures from the 2019 British Equestrian Trade Association Scotland-specific survey, funded by Horsescotland with support from British Horse Society (BHS) Scotland, which shows the Scottish equestrian economy is estimated to be worth £335m; Scottish racing contributes an additional £306m.
Horsescotland’s aims include encouraging participation in equestrian sport by tackling misconceptions such as elitism, improving accessibility, modernising regulations for riding schools by tackling anomalies in local authorities around licensing costs, developing breeding programmes for native Scottish breeds, and promoting welfare with licensing of sanctuaries and improving traceability of equines.
Horsescotland chairman Grant Turnbull told H&H the aim of the manifesto is to heighten awareness at Government level of what the equestrian community offers, not just in terms of economic input but from a health and wellbeing perspective.
“We had to ensure we got the manifesto out at the right time, and wanted to launch it prior to the Scottish election on 6 May. We’ve had great cross-party interest and engagement,” he said.
“We want to be seen knocking on the door at Government saying ‘we are here, this is what we do and we would like you to recognise it’ so we can build on it for the future. The figures from the survey alone are quantifiable and an eye-opening amount to be considered by Government as worth further engagement,” he said, adding that it is hoped riders and owners will use the information from the manifesto to lobby MSPs on any issues or concerns in the equestrian industry they are affected by.
“We’ve had great cross-party interest and engagement but it is down to the membership; if one of the aims rings true with them then it’s up to them to engage with their local Government representatives to ensure they are aware of the manifesto and that they are taking it up the Government levels. There’s a limit to what Horsescotland can do on our own, we need people to communicate with us and others to ensure that our story is told in a positive and proactive light. I want people to think ‘I can have an input’ and ‘I can help’ on an individual basis, rather than say ‘it’s never going to happen’.”
Horsescotland board director John Burns told H&H it sometimes feels like equestrian sport has been forgotten about at Government level.
“We need to let them see what the equestrian community offers the country as a whole; be it from vets, farriers, the support industry. The community is huge but sometimes it gets overlooked,” he said.
“People need to speak to their MSPs and tell them what value horses give them as an individual, and who supports them within that,” he said. “Public health is all about encouraging people to take part in sport, but I think equestrianism has to be looked at more as a sport, and that could encourage more investment from the Government.”
BHS Scotland national manager Helene Mauchlen told H&H that with almost 200,000 regular riders, there is a vibrant equestrian community in Scotland, adding that equestrianism provides opportunities for leisure, learning and mental wellbeing to riders across the country.
“As one of the largest, most active members of Horsescotland, the BHS is delighted to work with the other member bodies to support their work in uniting the Scottish equestrian community to enable people, horses and places to thrive,” she said.
A spokesman for Sportscotland, the national agency for sport in Scotland, told H&H the organisation will continue to work closely with Horsescotland as it develops plans to increase participation in equine sport.
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