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The Equine Industry

Horse racing

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 8.9 million1

Equestrian trades 

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 businesses2.

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 market3.

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 Council4


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.

Equestrian events

5.58 million people went to the races in 20125.

In excess of 1.2 million people attend the top ten shows hosting showjumping each year6.

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 (HES) 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’6.

There were 315 road traffic incidents reported on Horse Accidents in 2015. These included7:

  • One rider fatalities
  • Eight severe rider injuries
  • Twelve horse fatalities
  • Six severe horse injuries


Sources (correct as of February 2015)

[1] British Horse Racing Economic Impact of British Racing 2013

[2] BETA - About BETA

[3] Walsall Leather Museum

[4] Annual Report 2012

[5] British Showjumping - Facts and Figures

[6] Hospital Episode Statistics, Admitted Patient Care - England, 2014-15

[7] Horse Accidents

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