What we are doing to protect and improve access
- We protect off road access and work to extend it where possible
- We record legal rights, preserve and reinstate routes, and fundraise to defend endangered rights of way for riders and carriage drivers
- Localised advice, support and assistance is provided through our network of dedicated access officers
- We also organise events and training around the UK to provide you with the information you need to defend your rights of way
- We respond to consultations to ensure public rights are preserved and access maintained or extended.
- View and download our range of free advice to support you and your team
Our work in England and Wales
In England, the public rights of way network amounts to 188,700km, consisting of 146,600km of footpaths, 32,400km of bridleways, 3,700km of byways and 6,000km of restricted byways. Horse riders, therefore, currently only have access to 22 percent of public rights of way and horse-drawn vehicle drivers only five percent.
Our work in Scotland
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 amended the nature and extent of access rights in Scotland, granting many different types of user freedom by establishing a statutory right of access over land in Scotland.
Our work in Ireland
Access to safe off-road routes in Northern Ireland is sadly extremely limited compared to mainland Britain. However, the places that do exist are in some stunning locations and are critically important for equestrians.
What you can do to protect and improve your access
We are committed to protecting and preserving the equestrian off-road network. However, there’s only so much we and our volunteers can do – we need your help!
See how you can get involved with our work; you can support us in a variety of ways including becoming a volunteer and fundraising for us.
Support our work by joining our team of 300 local volunteer access and bridleway officers. Alternatively, you can get involved by finding your local BHS affiliated equestrian access groups who work to defend, extend, improve and promote safe, easily accessible off-road riding for everyone.
The BHS supports more than 1000 volunteers to take positive local action, to champion our work in learning, riding and welfare and care.
Our Access & Bridleway Officers are dedicated to enhancing and maintaining the UK’s equestrian access network. If you are passionate about equestrian access and want to make a lasting difference in your area, this could be the volunteer opportunity for you.
We organise events and training around the UK and online, to provide you with the information you need to defend your rights of way.
Equestrian Access Groups
The BHS has around 70 affiliated equestrian access groups who work across the UK to defend, extend, improve and promote safe, easily accessible off-road riding for everyone.
Protect your routes for riders and carriage drivers by reporting any problems you've encountered and recording historic routes so they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations of equestrians
Report a problem with off-road access
BHS Access and Bridleways Officers work with members of the public and the BHS HQ Rights of Way team reacting to threats to your access, answering your questions, representing equestrians on a local and national level at relevant meetings affecting access, working to establish new access, and promoting what exists through the BHS National Equestrian Route Network.
Check the status of your riding routes
Even if you’re using your favourite route to hack out regularly – this doesn’t mean that your route is recorded and protected!
We can work together to ensure the routes you ride on are accurately recorded as safe off-road routes so that they may be enjoyed now, and for generations to come. The first step towards preserving these historic routes is to check the status of your favourite route.
Recording and protecting your routes
Working together we can make sure that routes used by horses in the past are accurately recorded and protected so they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations of equestrians.
To help you to help us save these routes, we’ve gathered together all the resources you’ll need to get started, beginning with our 2026 toolkit.
Ride Out Fund
The BHS Ride Out Fund provides funding for projects that open and restore safe off-road routes for equestrians as well as other users around the UK. The more we raise, the more projects we can assist with funding and improve the lives and most importantly, the safety, of all off-road users.
Donate to the Access Fighting Fund
You can donate directly and securely to the Access Fighting Fund via JustGiving. Thank you to those who have worked hard and raised lots of money for the fund – we couldn’t do our work without you!
Ride Out UK
The BHS’s Ride Out UK (ROUK) campaign celebrates the joys of riding out in our beautiful countryside, as well as raising awareness of the great work we do to protect and extend safe places to ride and carriage drive off-road.
Running from May–October, our series of exciting Ride Out UK events are perfect for you and your friends to saddle up and explore off-road, while also raising money for the BHS Ride Out Fund, helping to fund multi-user routes across the UK.
The Rideathon Adventure is part of the BHS Ride Out UK fundraising campaign, aimed to celebrate the joys of riding out in our beautiful countryside.
Every penny you raise will go towards the BHS Ride Out Fund, helping to keep riders off the roads, and restoring multi-user routes that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Rideathon runs from 1 May to 31 October - but you can join the adventure at any time.
Get in touch with us
The BHS Access Department
Your Regional BHS team
Whether you want to volunteer your time to help, find out more about shows and events that are organised near you or get more involved by sitting on your local committee, your National or Regional Manager will be your first port of call.
How to plan a ride
From riding on the road to exploring off-road routes, it’s important you know where you can go with your horse. Read our tips for exploring safely and your responsibilities as an equestrian.
For many equestrians, hacking out is part of a weekly routine. Whether you are riding on the road or off-road, it is important to know your responsibilities as an equestrian to remain as safe as possible.
Hill & upland horse riding
Many of the bridleways and traditional riding routes in the uplands are ancient tracks linking one valley with another.
The ability to safely open and close gates from horseback is an important skill for both horse and rider to learn, and an essential part of a rider’s toolkit for off-road hacking.
Planning a route
If you’re venturing out riding or carriage driving, you should know where you can go, and what your rights and responsibilities are for where you live.
Equestrians and runners are both vulnerable road users, and we share similar risks when using the road and off-road tracks.
Bird Scarers and Gas Guns
Many farmers use bird scarers and gas guns to protect their crops from damage by birds. However, passing horses may also get scared or spooked by these, which can cause distress or injury to both horse and rider.
Drones come in many shapes and sizes, from small toys and hand-held radio-controlled drones, right through to those used in industry by an ever-widening range of businesses to save manpower and see things from above.
Low flying aircrafts
If a low flying aircraft flies over you, it could spook your horse, especially if they are not used to the noise.
We don't think of our lovable companions as predators or prey, but by nature, dogs are predators and horses are prey animals – a combination that can cause issues.