Equestrianism is an extremely popular and healthy activity for people of all ages. It is a diverse and family-friendly sport. It is one of very few sports where men and women compete on an equal footing. It extends from amateur and community participation to international success.
The equine industry includes anything and everything to do with horses, ponies and donkeys. Equine businesses include riding schools, livery yards, competition yards, trekking centres, breeders, trainers, welfare charities and freelance services and also veterinary services, farriers, feed merchants, tack and clothing manufacturers, shows and event services.
The most recent British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) National Equestrian Survey (2015) indicated that 1:
There has been a decline in regular riders, from 1.6 million in 2011 to 1.3 million in 2015.
There remains a strong gender bias, with females representing 74% of the riding population.
- In 2015, there are an estimated 962,000 female regular riders compared with 348,000 males.
National Societies and Associations
The British Horse Society (BHS)
The Society has over 91,000 members.
There are 34,000 BRC members.
There are 120 BHS Equestrian Access Groups and 238 volunteer Bridleways Officers.
There are currently 895 BHS Approved Centres in the UK, Ireland and Worldwide.
There are over 2,000 BHS Registered Instructors.
During 2014, approximately 8,000 candidates sat BHS examinations across the range of our provision from Stage 1 through to Fellowship, including the BHS Riding & Road Safety Test and Horse Owners Certificates.
BHS Welfare Officers responded to more than 1,400 reported welfare issues in 2014.
By the end of 2014 the BHS had issued 35,507 horse passports.
The Pony Club
The Pony Club, a national youth charity, has over 345 Branches and 600 Centres in the UK. In 2012, it had 30,674 members.
In 2014 The Pony Club celebrated its 85th Anniversary. It is the largest Youth Equestrian Organisation in the world.2
The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA)
The Riding for the Disabled Association has 500 volunteer groups across the UK and 18,000 volunteers, helping 28,000 people take part in riding, carriage driving, vaulting and showjumping activities each year.3
British Showjumping (BS)
British Showjumping manages more than 2,900 shows each year, providing in excess of 3,600 days of competition for its members. 4
British Eventing (BE)
British Eventing regulate as well as schedule more than 180 events throughout Britain that cater for nearly 94,000 entries per season (Mar-Oct). British Eventing has more than 11,000 members. 5
Endurance GB provides and manages well over 100 competitive events a year for its members, as well as many social and pleasure rides to encourage non-members. 6
The Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA)
The Hurlingham Polo Association is the governing body affiliated polo clubs and associations in the UK and Ireland and also overseas.
In 2013, there were just under 3,000 members registered with and handicapped by the HPA. 7
The Equine Industry
The total economic impact of British Racing in 2012 was £3.45bn with a tax contribution of £276m.
There are an average of 13,716 horses in training with 8,215 owners.
Direct, indirect and associated employment in 2012 was 85,200.
Racing is the second best attended sport in Britain after football, and in 2012 accounted for four of the ten highest attended sporting events (excluding the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games).
The peak Channel 4 audience for the 2013 Grand National was 8.9m. 8
The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) represents over 800 member companies, covering a wide range of businesses including not only retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, but also agents, dealers and many service based businesses. 9
There are still at least 40 manufacturers of saddles and bridles in Walsall and it remains an international centre of leather manufacturing, serving a worldwide market. 10
There are about 2,800 registered farriers. All working farriers in Great Britain (excluding the Highlands and Islands of Scotland) must be registered with the Farriers Registration Council. 11
Since 2005, all UK horses and donkeys are obliged to have a unique passport. There are more than 70 authorised passport issuing bodies in the UK.
Unlike the rest of the European Union, in the UK, the horse is not considered to be an agricultural animal because we do not consider them to be a food animal.
5.58m people went to the races in 2012. 12
In excess of 1.2million people attend the top ten shows hosting showjumping each year. 13
Off-road riding and carriage driving
The British Horse Society National Equestrian Route Network presently stands at over 18,000km.
In 2026 all historic, non-recorded rights of way will be extinguished under CROW Act 2000.
The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 did not provide any new statutory access rights for equestrians in England and Wales.
In Scotland, under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, horse riders and carriage drivers enjoy a statutory right of responsible access to most land and inland water, including to the coast and the foreshore.
Road Accident Statistics
The BHS considers horse related traffic accidents to be significantly under reported, a view supported by the Hospital Episode Statistics Online. The HES data concerning external causes of visits to hospital in 2014–15 reported 4,081 episodes requiring treatment in hospital for ‘animal – rider or occupant animal drawn vehicle injured in transport accident’. 13
There were 315 Road Traffic Incidents reported on www.horseaccidents.org.uk in 2015. These included 14:
- One rider fatalities
- Eight severe rider injuries
- Twelve horse fatalities
- Six severe horse injuries
Sources (correct as of February 2015)
 BETA survey 2010-2011
 Annual Report 2012 - www.farrier-reg.gov.uk/about-us/annual-report/