BHS Ireland is limited in its work to improve and extend safe off road access for equestrians to Northern Ireland only. This is due to the fact that The British Horse Society as a charity can only lobby for change in British led governments. BHS Ireland does work to promote existing safe off road riding and carriage driving throughout Ireland and any new opportunities that arise.
Access to safe off road routes and access in Northern Ireland is sadly extremely limited compared to Britain, however, the places that do exist are in some stunning locations. From the picturesque toll ride around Grey Abbey estate and hack around Tollymore Forest Park in Co.Down to the miles of flat sand on the stunning causeway coast, there are places for you to escape the busy roads. BHS Ireland and the Ulster Rural Riders Association (BHS Affiliated Bridleway Group) work hard to protect Northern Ireland’s access and are your voice when it comes under threat at a national level. They avail of any opportunities that arise to increase existing or open new access, and would welcome support from all over Northern Ireland to aid them on their work with this.
Protecting what we have
Existing access, like anywhere in the UK, can come under threat at any time. From proposed changes in policies or rules by local authorities to land developments, poor maintenance, ending in permissive agreements or new legislation, BHS Ireland is here to react quickly, and to protect what we have. In 2009 BHS engaged with fellow local equestrians and local authorities to protect and keep your rights of access to the beaches on the North Coast.
Extending, increasing, or just opening up new access to somewhere for equestrians usually involves negotiation, sharing, and funds. BHS Ireland has been very successful in recent years in opening toll rides, including equestrian access and agreeing temporary access to routes for organised rides.
Promoting safe off road routes and using them
BHS work hard to protect what we have, and encourage safe, responsible use of our routes, particularly those which are multiuser. Our range of free advisory leaflets online (link) may be of interest to you.
There are two BHS Affiliated Bridleway groups in Northern Ireland who work to increase awareness of our need for safe routes for riders and carriage drivers and responsible use by all users of public access areas and routes.
The Ulster Rural Riders Association (URRA), based in Co.Down
The Glens Bridleway Group (GBG), based in Co.Tyrone
The Regional Access Bridleway Officer for Northern Ireland is Edith Duff, she can be contacted on 02890 611601 and firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any concerns or queries over Northern Ireland Access matters, please contact Edith or the Access team at HQ and we will do our best to help you.
If you wish to get more involved in the improvement of access in Northern Ireland, please contact Susan Spratt.
6 November2015: Affiliated Bridleway Group Joins in County Tyrone!
Glens Bridleway Group based in Omagh, County Tyrone, become the latest Affiliated Bridleways Group to join the British Horse Society’s Affiliated ranks. It’s the second group to join from Northern Ireland, alongside the Ulster Rural Riders Group.
30 October 2015: Ride on Benone Beach? Avoid Using the Boardwalks
We have been asked by the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to politely request that horse riders avoid using the boardwalks to access Benone Strand as they have not been designed for equestrian use. You and your horse can still access the beach via the main car park.
BHS Affiliated Ulster Rural Riders holds another successful pleasure ride on Delamont estate with 82 riders attending. There was beautiful sunshine, heat and a very gentle breeze, which made the views of Strangford Lough all the more spectacular. A special thanks to the local farmer who went to a lot of effort to make the fields available for us to use and to the volunteers who made this glorious ride possible.
18 October 2015 – The Ulster Rural Riders Association Hold Their Last 2015 Ride
The magnificent Tollymore Forest Park near Newcastle, Co. Down set a fantastic scene for the BHS Equestrian Affiliated Group, who held their last ride of 2015. 56 riders and some accompanying walkers completed the 7 mile marked route along the forest tracks enjoying the glorious autumn colours and spectacular scenery of the forest, mountains and rivers. Many thanks to all the people who gave time and effort to organise the ride, mark the trail, collect the entry fees, the paramedic service in attendance [ thankfully not required ] and the Forest Service for enabling access to this great facility.
April 2009: BHS engaged with fellow local equestrians and local authorities to protect and keep your rights of access to the beaches on the North Coast.
In April 2009 BHS Ireland successfully fought alongside hundreds of equestrians of the North Coast of Ireland to ensure access to three beaches including the Portrush White Rocks beach and nearby strands was kept. Coleraine Borough Council had proposed a complete ban for horse riders. After much objection a consultation with nine key representatives from the equestrian industry, ensured horse riders could continue to enjoy access to these beautiful areas.
March 2006 BHS Ireland opened up Greyabbey Toll Ride
Henrietta Knight, internationally renowned racehorse trainer, opened Ireland's first Toll Ride at The Grey Abbey Estates. The 6.5km Equestrian Toll, jointly delivered by BHS Ireland and The Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) took two years to get off the ground.
Special thanks to the Montgomery family for allowing access to their private estate and Ards Borough Council who backed the project, along with East Border Region Partnership INTEREGG IIIa funding. The trail will open annually from March 1 to October 1 inclusive. During winter the ride will close for the shooting season.
For further information and the latest news visit BHS Ireland.