Forestry England, supported by The British Horse Society (BHS), is asking horse riders to give their views in a survey published online this week. The survey closes on 9 April 2023 and can be accessed using this link: https://consult.forestryengland.uk/corporate-and-forestry-support/forestry-england-horse-riding-permits-survey
Many of the forests managed by Forestry England have access for horse riding, such as on forest roads, and some have extra facilities including horse box parking areas.
In some forests, where Forestry England needs an enhanced relationship with riders to help manage sensitive environments, they use a permit system to allow horse riding.
Forestry England’s review needs experiences and thoughts from across the riding community, including those who use permits as well as those who do not. The valuable insight will help them thoroughly assess the permits currently being used and consider how best to use them to manage horse riding in the nation’s forests.
In their review and the survey, the term ‘horse riding’ is used by Forestry England to include all equine riding activities, including pony riding and carriage driving. Similarly, ‘horse riding permits’ refer to permits issued for recreational riding, and carriage driving, of all equines.
Bridgette Hall, Forestry England’s Head of Recreation & Visitor Experience explained:
“We support equestrian access in the nation’s forests and absolutely recognise how important it is for riders to have safe off-road riding.
“Forests we manage have 2,690km (1,670 miles) of public bridleways and byways well-used and enjoyed by many horse riders. On top of that, where we can, we also provide additional access on our forestry roads, on permissive bridleways and to link to other popular routes.
“We use permits in a limited way for equestrian access in woodlands with sensitive environments, busy or compact sites, or those prone to significant poaching to help manage access, rather than stop it altogether.
“We are delighted to have support from The British Horse Society for our permit review, as they will help us gather as many views from horse riders as we can.”
Mark Weston, Director of Access at The British Horse Society, says:
“We appreciate the value of the nation’s forests to horse riders, and carriage drivers, and the work that Forestry England do to maintain access.
“However, on behalf of The British Horse Society’s members, all horse riders, and carriage drivers, we are committed to making sure equestrians have improved access to forests.
“We encourage all riders and carriage drivers to give their views to this important survey so that we can have maximum access to forests.”