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What We Have Achieved

We are committed to defending and increasing the need for off-road riding and carriage driving by recording legal rights, preserving and reinstating routes.

Success stories

Access Success in Folkton, North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire County Council have had a success at a recent Public Inquiry, opening up a route an old bridleroad from the 1800s. Old Fordon Road was awarded as 20 foot bridleroad under the Folkton Inclosure Award in 1807. It had been enjoyed by the public on foot and on horseback ever since.
Unfortunately during the definitive map process in the 1950's when there were few riders about, most of it was only classified as a footpath and a short stretch not at all. So when a property through which the short stretch ran was sold, the new owners promptly locked the gate.

After years of pressure on the County Council by the parishioners and local riders the case finally went to public inquiry and is now recorded correctly. The owners still refused to remove the padlock but North Yorkshire County Council served notice on them and it is now correctly marked and free to use. The BHS still has a Defintive Map Modification order (DMMO) application outstanding to upgrade the long footpath section to bridleway, much needed to access the bridleway network on the Wolds.

Catriona Cook, Regional Access and Bridleways Officer for Yorkshire and County Officer for North East Yorkshire said: "It is wonderful after all these years of lobbying the council and researching for the evidence that was produced at the public inquiry, that at last part of this old road has been returned to the riding public. It makes all the effort worthwhile."

Rider and ABO work together to clear bridleway in YorkshireVanessa Woodhead riding through freshly mowed oil seed rape crop

Well done for BHS member Vanessa Woodhead working with her local access officer, Derek Hawkins (ABO for Rotherham)  to secure the mowing of a path through an oil seed rape crop, which was obstructing the bridleway. On the same route a dangerous bridle gate was replaced with a horse stile. 

This story just goes to show that ordinary riders can get things done!

BHS Advice On Using Off-Road Gates

The BHS have released a short, informative and easily accessible video advising riders on how to use a gate when riding off-road.
Gate TrialThe video demonstrates the key principles of how to safely open, while mounted, the varying types of gate – those opening towards you, away from you, and a self-closing gate. It can be found on YouTube and at

More than 90 incidents involving horse and riders have been reported to The British Horse Society (BHS) since November 2010, although the Society believes there have been many more that riders have not reported. Gates are a common obstacle for riders to negotiate, due to their use in controlling stock and dividing boundaries.

If you are struggling with gates when you and your horse ride off-road, perhaps team up with a confident buddy who will ride out with you and practise using them safely. British Horse Society Regional Access Bridleway Officer for the North of England, Sue Rogers recently ran a ‘gates & fords course’ which was a great success (which is also featured in this newsletter). If you would like us to arrange something similar in your area, please get in touch at and we will try to find a nearby BHS group, centre or volunteer who might be able to help you.
If riders experience problems with the gates themselves, or encounter one that is difficult to use, please report it to the local authority so that they can be rectified. If no resolution is found, contact the BHS who will support you to rectify the problem. If you are unfortunate enough to experience an incident involving a gate, please report this on the BHS’s dedicated incident facility.

Kirklees Information Day

Keen cyclist Clr Martyn Bolt (pictured) saddled up at the recently approved BHS livery yard, ‘Calder Farm’ in Mirfield. He was taken out by stables manager Nancy Walker (pictured) along the bridleways to see some of the problems horse riders face.

Cllr Bolt with Bev Corrigan from Kirklees Bridleway Group

Martyn also spoke to Mark and Bev Corrigan from Kirklees Bridleways Group, who held an information day at the stables. Clr Bolt said: “As a non-horse rider I found it very useful going out with Nancy to get a perspective of things straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were!

You can’t fully understand the problems until you saddle up. I’ve raised the issue with Kirklees Council to get a work group out to cut vegetation back and raise some money for drainage and resurfacing. So many people enjoy the countryside, so we need to make sure it’s as accessible as possible.” 

10 Minute Challenge!

What do you think you could do in 10 minutes? Make a round of teas? Tack a horse up? Fill a hay net? What about clearing a completely blocked and unusable gate!

That’s exactly what one person has done from Shibden and District Bridleways Association. Using an electric hedge trimmer they now have an easy to use, accessible gate*. We’re all aware of the cuts councils are making in order to save on funds, leaving some bridleways, byways and restricted byways in need of a bit of TLC. Well done guys for taking it upon yourselves to clear away your paths. Remember, as an affiliated bridleway group with the BHS you’re insured for events you organise and notify us of by email

Unusable to usable in 10 minutes!

Not sure what other benefits we offer? A full list is on our website. *Please always ensure you have the permission of the landowner before instigating any clearance work, the correct health and safety measures in place, sufficient insurance cover and you've notified the local authority.

BHS submits response to Government's Draft Cycling and Walking Strategy.

The Society has responded to the Government's draft strategy which outlines the approach for developing walking and cycling as the norm for short or long journeys. Read and download our response

BHS submits responds to the Welsh Government on the 'Improving Opportunities to Access the Outdoors for Responsible Recreation'.

The BHS responds to the Welsh Government, asking for user group views on proposals to improve opportunities to access the outdoors and public rights of way. Read and download our response (pdf). 

BHS submits response to the Highways Agency on the Cambridge to Huntingdon A14 improvement scheme Public Consultation.

The BHS has submitted a response to the Highways Agency's consultation on the Cambridge to Huntingdon A14 improve scheme. Read and download our response (pdf).

BHS submits response to the Lake District National Park Authority on the Keep on the Right Track Code of Conduct consultation

The BHS has submitted a response to the Lake District National Park Authority's consultation on the Keep on the Right Track Code of Conduct consultation. Read and download our response (pdf).

BHS submits response to the Department for Transport on the draft Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2015

The BHS has submitted a response to the Department for Transport's consultation on the draft Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2015. Read and download our response (pdf).

BHS submits response to the Canal and River Trust on the Sharing Towpaths Consultation

The Canal and River Trust recently issued a consultation on towpath use. The BHS has submitted a response to the CRT to make them aware of the demand for equestrian access on these paths. Read and download our response (pdf).

BHS submits response to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport regarding the proposal to authorise motor sport events on public roads.

The BHS has submitted a response to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in regards to the proposal to authorise motor sport events on public roads. Read and download our response (pdf).

BHS submits response to the Department for Transport regarding the maximum speed limit for tractors on public roads

The BHS has submitted a response to the DfT in regards to the maximum speed limit for tractors on public roads consultation. Read and download our response (pdf).

BHS submits response to the Department for Transport regarding the maximum weights of agricultural trailers and combinations

The BHS has submitted a response to the DfT in regards to the examining of the maximum weights of agricultural trailers and combinations consultation. Read and download our response (pdf).

BHS submits response to the Department for Transport regarding the Draft National Planning Policy Statement for the National Road and Rail Networks

The BHS has submitted a response to the DfT in regards to the Draft National Planning Policy Statement for the National Road and Rail Networks consultation. Read and download our response (pdf).

2013 Access Review

Our Access and Bridleways Officers, and Affiliated Equestrian Access Groups worked harder than ever in 2013 on behalf of all equestrians, to ensure that riders and carriage drivers have safe off road routes to ride and carriage drive on. The Access Department have created the 2013 Access Review (pdf) to look back over some of this work.

BHS submits response to Defra regarding CAP Consultation

The BHS has submitted a response to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs in regards to the Implementation of CAP (Commons Agricultural Policy) Reform in England Consultation. Read and download the response (pdf).

The British Horse Society submits written evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Deregulation Bill

The British Horse Society has been campaigning hard in respect of the proposed rights of way provisions in the Draft Deregulation Bill. We have submitted written evidence on the Draft Deregulation Bill to the Joint Committee.

Download a copy of the evidence we submitted (pdf).

BHS responds to Department for Transport proposed changes to the cycle racing on the highways regulations

Mark Weston, Director of Access has submitted a response on behalf of the BHS to the DfT, regarding the ‘Proposed Changes to the Cycle Racing on the Highways Regulations (1960)’. Download a copy of the response.

BHS Response to the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

 The Society has submitted written evidence to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee in July regarding the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.

The British Horse Society is concerned about chapter 2, clauses 55 - 68 of the Bill, which introduce public space protection orders (PSPOs). We fear that these will lead to the loss of safe off road riding and carriage riding opportunities, when public space protection orders are made which prohibit access to registered commons and equestrian public rights of way. Download a copy of the Society’s evidence (pdf).

BHS responds to DfT speed limit consultation

The Society has published its response to the Department for Transport’s ‘Examining the speed limit for HGVs over 7.5tonnes on single carriageway roads: a consultation document’. The consultation applies to England and Wales.The consultation closed on 1 February 2012. Download our response on the right.

Specification for new bridges for equestrian use in England and Wales

The BHS has issued a new document that represents the ideal desired by equestrians for new bridges and may be essential to ensure the safety of all users at some sites. Download it on the right.

Express dedication of public rights of way letter from DEFRA

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has published a letter to Natural England offering guidance on legal and practical issues relating to the express dedication of public rights of way at common law (EDCL) with regards to Natural England’s Paths for Communities Scheme (P4C).

Download a copy of the letter (pdf). 

Welsh Government Consultation Draft Road Safety Delivery Plan

Read our response to the 2012 Draft Road Safety Delivery Plan consultation (pdf).

National Nature Reserves

Natural England will be carrying out an assessment of National Nature Reserves to see if access can be given for equestrians on these sites pursuant to section 16 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

We believe letters would be best sent to local MPs when Natural England are considering proposals for the specific reserves in the MPs' constituencies. When we have the details of Natural England’s proposals we will post them here, together with a standard response letter.

High Speed Rail 

Read our response to the 2011 High Speed 2 consultation (pdf).

Coastal Access

We have lobbied Natural England and the Government for equestrians to have a right of access to the English coast.

Unfortunately, Natural England's view is that ‘it would be impracticable and unreasonable for horse riding and cycling rights to apply along the length of the coast’. They state they will be seeking local opportunities to improve such rights, with the agreement of the occupier, as part of the coastal access project, and that they intend to publish separate, non-statutory criteria to guide this work.

The BHS are working to ensure that access rights for equestrians to the coast are secured wherever possible and feasible.

Forestry Permits

We continue to campaign against what we consider to be discrimination against equestrians seeking to ride in Forestry Commission forests.

Lobby your MP for this access by downloading and completing the letter version of our postcard (pdf).

Forestry Sell-off

The BHS successfully campaigned to save safe off-road access in Forestry Commission Forests in England when the Government proposed to sell off the forests. 

Read a letter from the Forest Access User Group to the Independent Forestry Panel (pdf).

Download the poster (pdf) and display it in your yard, tack shop, pub, local shop – anywhere you can grab attention to highlight the issue of equestrian access to forests.


There are currently no active petitions that we support.

Campaign to save your Stewardship Access Schemes

Horse riders in England currently only have access to 22 percent of public rights of way and horse-drawn vehicle drivers only 5 percent. Any other safe off-road riding opportunities, such as stewardship access schemes, are therefore of the utmost importance to equestrians.

You can find out whether there are any of these schemes in your area by visiting the Conservation Walks Register (opens in new window), which gives details of access to land as part of agri-environment schemes.

If you are concerned about the possible loss of these safe off-road riding routes, please write to your MP asking them for their support to preserve such schemes.

Policy on Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs)

TROs should be temporary and preserve horse riding and carriage driving rights.

Policy on Definitive Map Modification Orders (DMMOs)

The Society’s aim in applying for and responding to Definitive Map Modification Order Applications is to seek to establish the true legal status of a route on the Definitive Map and Statement. BHS Access and Bridleways Officers are under a duty to seek the highest equestrian rights that the evidence reasonably suggests.

Success stories

Success against plans for clay shooting facilities near bridleway in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

We have helped to resist an appeal against a refusal of planning permission for the retention of clay pigeon shooting grounds in Gotherington, Cheltenham.

The decision means horses and riders using the nearby bridleway will be protected from potentially high noise levels which could startle horses.

British Horse Society campaign successfully on A11 dualling

The British Horse Society and the Federation of Suffolk Byways and Bridleways withdrew their objections to an upgrade of the A11 after the Highways Agency confirmed it had added an underpass for horse riders, cyclists, and pedestrians to its plans.

Brian Freemantle, East of England welfare officer, said the addition of a crossing to the A11 would open up more routes to local riders, such as the Ickneild Way and Peddars way.

“It is very pleasing to see that common sense has prevailed,” he said.

Equestrian tourism is growing. Had there not been a crossing it would have chopped Norfolk and Suffolk off. It is an obvious crossing point and it is going to help equestrian tourism as well as local riders.”

BHS and Sustrans join forces for success: A23 Handcross to Warninglid Widening Scheme

Successful campaigning by BHS and Sustrans has resulted in riders being granted everything they asked for in relation to this widening scheme, including enlarging an underpass to take all NMUs.

Success in South East for BHS Access Officers

Thanks to our campaigns at Telscombe Tye, which had been obstructed by thousands of tonnes of dumped waste, electric fencing and cattle grids is now mostly passable.

About 8,000 tonnes of waste have been removed, restoring most, if not all of the common (another couple of thousand tonnes is still left). The electric fencing was removed a few years ago, after BHS representatives lobbied.


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