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Our Heritage

The British Horse Society was founded in 1947 with the amalgamation of two organisations – the Institute of the Horse and Pony Club, and the National Horse Association of Great Britain.

Our first 50 years saw enormous growth in riding as a leisure activity. We were at the forefront of introducing training both for riding and in stable management, leading to much improved standards of equine welfare and safety for riders.

Our recent rapid growth in membership has shown that interest in horses and ponies, and equestrianism in general, is greater than ever and support for The British Horse Society as a horse charity is strong in all areas.

See a list of The British Horse Society's historic milestones below.

Help us to continue to help horses and riders for years to come. Join as a member, donate, volunteer, or raise funds.


  • The British Horse Society is founded through the amalgamation of the National Horse Association and the Institute of the Horse and Pony Club Ltd.

1947- 48

  • The Society's subscription income totals £4,497.


  • Britain's first three day event - as part of the Olympics - at Aldershot.

  • The first Preliminary Instructor's exam is held at Porlock. Membership reaches 5,067.


  • The first Badminton Horse Trials is staged.

  • Pony Club membership nears 20,000 with 197 branches.


  • The British Riding Clubs movement is founded.

  • The 1953 accounts show a turnover of £28,273 and a profit of £1,059.


  • Membership rises to 5,697.

  • HM the Queen becomes The Society's Patron.


  • Great Britain is represented at dressage for the first time at the Olympics (Stockholm) and the British team wins the three day event gold medal. (Col Weldon, Maj Rook and Bertie Hill).


  • The Society's International Show becomes the Royal International Horse Show. Held at the White City, the attendance is in excess of 100,000.


  • The Dressage Group is founded and issues its first newsletter.

  • The Approval of riding schools begins.


  • The Society is granted charitable status.


  • The Horse & Pony Breeds Committee is formed.


  • The first official endurance ride in the UK, the Golden Horseshoe Ride over Exmoor, is organised by the Society and sponsored by The Sunday Telegraph.

  • First meeting of the Scottish Committee of The British Horse Society is held at the University of Edinburgh Staff Club.


  • The Society accepts an offer from the Royal Agricultural Society of a plot of land at Stoneleigh for the construction of offices and an indoor riding school, to provide the nucleus of a National Equestrian Centre.


  • In January, Dorian Williams, Hon. Director of the BHS, cuts the first turf on the site of the new headquarters.

  • In May, the Society's office block opens.


  • The indoor school is completed.


  • The Combined Driving Group is founded.

  • The British Equestrian Federation is formed with the British Show Jumping Association.


  • The first CDI (international dressage show).


  • The Access and Rights of Way department (originally known as the Bridleways Office) is set up.


  • The Intermediate Instructor qualification is introduced.


  • The Welfare Department's Rescue and Rehabilitation Scheme is introduced.

  • The inaugural meeting of the welfare committee of the English Committee is held, under Mrs. Marjorie Langford's chairmanship. She chaired the committee until January 1997.


  • Combined Training changes its name to Horse Trials.

  • The first Riding and Road Safety Manual is published - price 30p.


  • Jennie Loriston-Clarke, riding Dutch Courage, becomes the first British rider to win a championship medal for dressage when she takes the individual bronze at the International Festival, Goodwood.


  • The first BHS Yearbook is produced, superseding the diaries of previous years.


  • The Medical Equestrian Association is founded.


  • The 'Stages' examination structure is introduced.


  • Vaulting is accepted as a discipline of the Society.


  • ARROW project launched. The first in the 'On Horseback' series, Cotswolds on Horseback, is published.


  • The turnover of the Book & Gift shop exceeds £½ million for the first time.


  • The Escort Certificate and British Equestrian Tourism qualifications are introduced.


  • Projected subscription income: £1,678,000; membership exceeds 65,000.


  • The Society celebrates its Golden Jubilee Year.

  • HRH The Prince of Wales becomes President. Horse Trials, horse driving trials, endurance riding and vaulting are taken over by new, independent associations, and the Pony Club becomes a new company with charitable status

  • The BHS relocates to Stoneleigh Deer Park and a National Rescue Centre opens at Welford.


  • British Dressage becomes independent but British Riding Clubs decide their future remains with the BHS.

  • BHS becomes the governing body for TREC competitions in the UK.

  • HRH The Princess Royal becomes President of The Society.


  • The Princess Royal opens the new Rescue Centre at Oxhill.

  • Access Week is launched and helps raise the profile of riders' and carriage drivers' needs for safe off road riding.

  • The pilot BHS Hunter Trials series is launched in the South East and is warmly welcomed.

  • Riding Schools department restructures. The BHS website and magazine are taken in-house and the Book Shop goes 'online'.


  • New Trade Membership package launched.

  • BHS Degree Course receives verification.

  • First 'Lawrence of Arabia' Challengers return from Jordan.

  • First Access Week.

  • BHS becomes an Awarding Body recognised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to offer qualifications accredited into the National Qualifications Framework.


  • The first lap of the H25 London Orbital Riding Route is opened in South Mimms, Hertfordshire.

  • Foot and Mouth hits the Country and BHS events and competitions are put on hold.

  • Good Practice and Child Protection courses are launched.

  • A campaign to remove VAT from riding hats begins, and a new student membership scheme is initiated.

  • The BHS TREC team secures Team Silver at the TREC World Championships in Belgium, and the Welfare department unveils new challenge rides to Peru and Iceland.


  • Early in 2002 the BHS is invited to join the Rural Affairs Forum in England by Defra Minister, The Rt. Hon. Alun Michael.

  • The Safety department launches training for Riding and Road Safety Trainers, and the first Equine Specific First Aid courses begin.

  • A feather in the Riding & Road Safety cap are the radio & TV adverts, produced by the Department of Transport as part of their ‘Think’ campaign, to educate motorists on how to drive near horses.

  • The Examinations department develops a Junior version of the Progressive Riding Tests.

  • The BHS becomes an official Passport Issuing Organisation.

  • The Livery Yard Approval scheme is launched at the Royal International Horse Show.

  • The Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire sections of the Sabrina Way are opened by HRH The Princess Royal.


  • British Riding Clubs European Championships gain FEI status.

  • BHS Welfare moves forward into a policy of educating people in order to prevent cases of cruelty and neglect happening.

  • The rescue centre closes as the BHS works with the Blue Cross to provide homes for rescue cases at their sanctuaries. Regional rescue work continues, and safe houses are found for animals who need them.

  • The Tweed Trails in Scotland open.

  • An All Party Parliamentary Group is formed in England.

  • The Three Downs Long Distance route is officially opened.

  • A Hungarian Challenge is now on offer from the Welfare department.

  • The BHSAI is accredited by the Qualifications & Curriculum Authority (QCA) to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

  • The BHS initiated Ragwort Control Bill passes through Parliament and gains Royal Assent.

  • The BHS moves into the future with the launch of the monthly e-newsletter British Horse online.


  • The Welfare Department publishes the first issue of BHS Equi-Care magazine, and works alongside the Laminitis Trust to promote a ‘BHS Equi Weight Watchers’ campaign, aimed at reducing the number of obese horses and ponies, and the incidence of Laminitis.

  • The BHS Ragwort Control Act became law in February, paving the way for a Code of Conduct on how to prevent the spread of the weed.

  • The Society welcomes Graham Cory as Chief Executive, and Patrick Print as Chairman. Noel Edmonds also joins the Society as President.

  • The BHS is invited to become part of the Hunter ‘Giving Welly’ initiate.

  • An equestrian insurance working group is formed, to tackle the plight of riding schools and increasing insurance premiums.

  • The BHS Safety Department tackles the issue of Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA) road surface dressing and works in partnership with County Surveyors Society to combat the problem.


  • BHS membership hits 60,000

  • BHS Equestrian Hall of Fame is launched.

  • The Three Rivers Ride is opened

  • To resolve problems surrounding low flying helicopters a free phone helpline, 0800 515544, is launched to assist riders.

  • Operation Bright Eyes proves that riders wearing fluorescent clothing allows pilots to see them sooner.


  • Sefton Awards move back to the Barracks.

  • Exmoor on Horseback revisions produce a pilot for rolling out a new format of long distance route details across the UK.

  • BHS Stage 3 and PTT get accredited by UCAS.

  • The Radnor Forest Ride route is opened.

  • The Safety Department launches a new interactive CD-Rom, 


  • Equestrian Qualifications GB Limited, a subsidiary company of the BHS is the new Awarding Body for BHS and S/NVQ qualifications.

  • The Level 1 and Level 2 (UKCC Endorsed) Coaching Certificates were accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority into the National Qualifications Framework.

  • The Preliminary Teaching Test now incorporates the Level 2 UKCC endorsed Coaching Certificate. The PTT 'logbook' was replaced by a 'portfolio'.

  • The BHS Equitation and Teaching Certificate was held in Ireland for the first time.

  • Riding & Road Safety Training Programme was awarded a Prince Michael International Road Safety Award


  • BHS membership hits all-time high of 70,000

  • The Stage 2 and Stage 3 Care exams are included in the Additional and Specialist Learning Catalogue for the 14-19 Specialised Diploma.

  • The Intermediate Teaching Test now incorporates the Level 3 UKCC endorsed Coaching Certificate.

  • The Stage 3 Horse Knowledge and Care and the BHS Intermediate Instructor Certificate are extended on the National Qualifications Framework until December 2010

  • Riding & Road Safety Test accredited by Qualifications & Curriculum Authority as part of National Qualification Framework.
  •  Horse Accidents website is launched.
  • Martin Clunes is appointed as President of the BHS. 


  • The Society welcomes former Chairman Lynn Petersen as its Chief Executive following Graham Cory's departure. Claire Aldridge becomes Chair of the Board of Trustees.
  • Paralympic Legacy Access Project (PLAP) launched, to promote and encourage carriage driving.
  • Equestrians included in the Welsh Framework for vulnerable road users.
  • BHS launches 'Friends at the End' initiative. 
  • Faith, Hope and Charity appeal launched
  • BHS works in conjunction with DEFRA to produce a ragwort survey 
  •  BHS membership reaches 90,000.
  • £25,000 earmarked for BHS Paths for Communities Fund.
  • Accredited Professional Coach Scheme replaces Register of Instructors.
  • National road safety campaign, 'Dead Slow' launched.
  • £250,000 invested into scholarships. 

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