Facebook Live – General Meeting Questions
Chief Executive’s Office
Could you outline what the top three priorities are for the BHS in the next six to 12 months?
Our three Strategic Priorities are:
- Increase the number of people taking qualifications
- Encourage participation in riding and increase access to riding routes for all
- Educate the public on interacting with horses and their care and management
Our Strategic Plan Summary has more information
Will you be terminating your association with Martin Clunes following his participation in the cycle of elephant cruelty?
British Horse Society President, Martin Clunes, has been in post since June 2011 and we have no plans to terminate our association. Martin is a great asset to the BHS and his passion for horses is an inspiration to our work.
How many general meetings have been called by members over the last 20 years?
We do not have definite data over a 20 year timeframe, but none have been called in the last 10 years.
What is the cost of the requisitioned General Meeting to the BHS?
The requisitioned General Meeting has required commitment of significant resource, both financial and human.
It appears that the 2017 Challenge Ride made a loss off 38K, wiping out the projects previous years reserve, why have they not been stopped?
Challenge Rides never run at a loss. Any funds generated by Challenge Rides are fully utilised against our welfare activities. The £38k shown at the end of 2017 represented funds received towards the Challenge Rides which took place in 2018, hence it remaining there until the rides took place. Net income used against our Welfare activities for the 2018 challenge rides was £36k.
EQUESTRIAN QUALIFICATIONS GB LIMITED from 2013 - 2017 shows profit of £423,875 being gift aided to the BHS main account, this is not clearly defined in the accounts please can you explain where this money is?
There is no requirement to detail the qualifying donation from the subsidiary on the balance sheet. Donations from subsidiaries are detailed in note 2, 6 & 20. (This is not Gift Aid)
Why does it appear that there was a net loss of £402k?
The charity made a net unrestricted income of £151k for 2017. The net expenditure of £402k is represented of all fund classifications, the designated funds are the ones shown as net expenditure. The designated spend represents previously agreed spend from prior year’s net unrestricted income (reserves). These funds are designated to fulfil our charitable purposes. Even after this spend, we still meet our reserves policy.
Members have requested sight of the accounts prior to their formal adoption because of concerns over the charity’s expenditure and loss reported in 2017 accounts. Why are members not able to see the accounts before their adoption?
All expenditure is disclosed in the annual accounts and larger investments are communicated to the Regional Chairs to cascade information to the country committees, where in turn members and volunteers should be briefed.
Could the Local committees be consulted regarding matters including important policy changes, closure of welfare centres, and transparency on costs such as BHS On the Move and the Horse Puppet BEFORE they take effect?
We consider that the BHS has been very open and transparent in the communication of capital investment, IT investment and membership growth. Trustees are elected by BHS members to represent the voice of the wider membership in any and all decisions taken by the board, which has robust cost/benefit appraisal processes in place for expenditure.
How and where is the Chief Executive role being advertised
We are engaged with an executive search agency to recruit for the Chief Executive role. It has been shared on Indeed, in national newspapers and other publications, including Horse and Hound.
Why is the BHS setting up BHS International? Will this organisation have different objects to the main Society?
There is an increasing demand around the world for BHS accreditation, for BHS Approved riding centres, BHS Accredited Professional Coaches and BHS education and assessments for all equestrians.
The BHS has had a presence internationally for many years. The four centres managed by the Hong Kong Jockey Club were approved in 1993, Equuleus in China was approved in 2012 and Alforsan in the UAE in 2013.
I expect my donation to focus on sorting domestic problems. Why do you appear to prioritise changing behaviour and education internationally as opposed to sorting problems back in the UK?
BHS International is a profitable arm of the Society and only funds generated internationally are used to support international work.
I had not previously heard of any concerns or allegations around the BHS. Why was the Vote of no Confidence called?
The June 2019 General Meeting has been convened to discuss and vote on the proposal of ‘No confidence in the Chairman, Board of Trustees and the Chief Executive of The British Horse Society’.
We acknowledge that there are concerns and we are addressing them to give those members confidence in the Society moving forward.
The main concerns outlined have been summarised in the Chairman’s Letter to Members: https://www.bhs.org.uk/our-charity/about-us-and-our-work/corporate-information/general-meetings
We believe that the report of a growing lack of confidence in the Board of Trustees is largely due to the circulation of misinformation on social media and other media platforms.
The Trustees, Senior Management Team and dedicated employees work day to day on the Charity’s operations to have a clear outlook on what is happening, when it is happening and why it is happening.
From the letters and comments you have received regarding the concerns of some members, what can you acknowledge and accept about their views, even if you don’t agree?
We do acknowledge that there are concerns surrounding communication, and we are addressing these concerns to give those members confidence in the Society.
From the letters and comments, it is certainly encouraging to know that we are working toward a common objective and we do hope that our responses provide you with the clarity required in order that we may all move forward to ensure the Society is run efficiently for all its beneficiaries and stakeholders.
Why members are being asked to vote on the no confidence resolution on the same day as the meeting to discuss the reasons for the resolution?
The requisition of the June 2019 General Meeting received by the BHS was ‘to discuss and vote on the proposal of No Confidence’.
There seems to be a lack of transparency about the way Trustees are appointed. Can this be more open and not so selective?
There was extensive discussion in relation to the Nomination Committee at the General Meeting on 5 January 2019; the views of members were listened to and the composition of the Committee was reviewed and added to as suggested. The role of the Nomination Committee is to assess whether nominees hold the appropriate knowledge and experience to meet the Trustee role requirements that are set out in the Trustee Role Description and the Charity Commission Essential Trustee guidelines.
It is important to note here that all Trustees that sit on the Nomination Committee are elected by the membership and therefore have delegated responsibility to assess Nominees against the Trustee role requirements.
There are some excellent candidates on the ballot for the 2019 Trustee Election and we look forward to welcoming the new Trustees elected by the membership on to the Board in July 2019.
A General Meeting was convened to consider and vote on six constitutional changes, one of which was the composition of the board to add further clarity.
It became clear that those present at the meeting felt that they would like more time to consider the information that had been provided, before voting on the proposed changes to the constitution and the meeting was adjourned at the request of two members as per Article 26.6 ‘The Members present in person or by proxy at a meeting may resolve by ordinary resolution that the meeting shall be adjourned.’ The members present at the meeting had suggested that they would like to vote on the constitutional changes individually, rather than have the six changes grouped as one; it was not possible to change the resolution and therefore alter the business of a General Meeting and therefore, following appropriate legal advice, the meeting was adjourned indefinitely to consider other options.
Given that the BHS covers the UK, it can be difficult for members to attend important meetings due to the location or time. Can you look at other ways that members would be able to attend and take part?
Only one Members’ Meeting has been held per year in previous years, usually with very low attendance. To increase engagement and encourage attendance in 2019 the Board decided to hold four Members’ Meetings instead. The first three were combined with events that had already been planned, in order to control costs.
Why are the BHS spending money on the ‘Horse puppet’ or ‘BHS On the Move’ when there are potentially better ways to spend the money? How does the BHS allocate resources to its various charitable aims?
Trustees have a responsibility to understand the environment in which the charity is operating and to lead the charity in fulfilling all its purposes as effectively as possible with the resources available. To do otherwise would be failing beneficiaries, funders and supporters.
There are various separate project plans, each funded through specific funding streams that have been approved by the BHS Trustees.
Our ‘BHS On the Move’ vehicle has extended our reach to hundreds of coaches, members and potential members that we otherwise would not be able to effectively engage with.
The British Horse Society was Charity of the Year at Badminton Horse Trials 2018 and there was associated spend in this regard which included the horse puppet. The sum agreed by the Board for our presence as Charity of the Year at Badminton was £117,000. The actual spend was £97,000. The collateral purchased was designed so that it could be used across all major shows for 2 – 5 years and was not a one off investment. So the actual cost was £9,700 for each of 10 shows in 2018; or £3,299 for each of 10 shows over 3 years; or £1,940 for each of 10 shows over 5 years. The new redesigned BHS presence at the first shows of the season produced an increase in membership.
What money have you spent on keeping bridleways open?
In the last four years we have created The British Horse Society’s Paths for Communities Fund. To date we have received 35 applications; 17 schemes have been completed, costing £25K - seven new definitive routes, four new permissive routes and seven existing routes have been brought back into use. We now have £55K in the fund with £19K currently committed to other schemes.
We are investing more funds than ever in saving our bridleways from the 2026 cut-off date. The Society has secured £150K of funding (from Sport England, via the British Equestrian Federation) to help research these routes, and has also match funded this sum, in order to help save these routes for future generations.
Why have you not addressed the issues in the letter sent to you by members who raised concerns? Are you prepared to publish their letter and concerns and address each issue transparently to all the members?
The requisition for the General Meeting that was signed by 42 members did not contain any reasons for the meeting. The Board of Trustees have received documents outlining concerns from different groups of members, but not the same 42 members that were signatories of the requisition and therefore it would be wrong to attribute those documents to the 42 members.
We do acknowledge that there are concerns and we are addressing these concerns to give those members confidence in the Society moving forward.
We will consider how this information is shared with our members, but it is not appropriate to publish some letters as they contain inaccurate, sensitive and confidential information. Only factual and accurate figures and statements will be shared by the BHS.
Our Chairman received a letter from a small group of members on the 23 May and you can find both the letter and his response, which answers a number of the questions raised during the Facebook Live session.
How would the BHS address the clear divide there is between Scotland and England/Wales?
We have a one team agreement in place with Scotland and over the last few years we have grown the team to support Scotland as our membership increases. Due to the different legislations in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England we tailor the way we lobby and interact with Government, as well as our communications.
Can you explain Friends at the End (FATE) please?
‘Friends at the End’ is a BHS initiative designed to make sure that no horse owner has to face the loss of their equine companion alone.
Recent research by Advancing Equine Scientific Excellence (AESE) has found that only 9% of UK horses die of natural causes, meaning that owners frequently have to make the decision about when the time has come to end their companion’s life. Even when this is unquestionably the right thing to do, it often leads to feelings of guilt, which is completely normal.
It is therefore understandable that so many people want to delay euthanising their horse. However, that doesn’t mean it is the best decision for their horse. Sadly, many of the welfare concerns that the BHS receives are about old and much-loved horses who have been left to go on for too long and are now suffering. It might be a cliché but the saying ‘better a week too soon than a day too late’ is an important message to remember when considering what is the best option for your horse.
Making the decision can be even harder if the horse has chronic injury or behavioural issues, and is not elderly.
More than 50 volunteer Welfare Advisers have attended training that will help them to support horse owners through the difficult process of saying goodbye. The BHS Friends at the End team can talk to owners about the options available if they can no longer keep their horse for any reason. It doesn’t have to end in euthanasia and if there are other options they will help find them.
If a horse does need to be euthanised, BHS Friends will discuss the choices with owners, from the method of euthanasia to what to do afterwards. Many are willing to be there on the day to offer support, and some will even hold the horse if the owner doesn’t feel able to.
All of our Friends at the End team have received training from bereavement counsellors, so they have a genuine understanding of the loss and grief that come when a horse dies. They aren’t there to take the place of a counsellor or vet, but they can offer an extra source of support. At the hardest time in a horse owner’s journey, BHS Friends at the End are available to make it as smooth and straightforward as possible.
Can you tell us more about changing lives through horses please?
Changing Lives through Horses aims to improve the lives of disengaged young people, regardless of their background, and give them the opportunity to develop skills that enable them to return to education and/or employment.
Using horses as the inspiration for change, the programme provides an alternative learning environment to mainstream education within BHS Approved Centres, supported by specially trained BHS Accredited Professional Coaches. The skills developed by the participants through the programme meet the requirements of ongoing education and training, and potential employers.
The programme works to develop six key life skills through equestrian activity: Communication, Confidence, Relationships, Teamwork, Responsibility and Personal Achievement.
What about smaller area committees? There is very little in Lancashire, lots of people locally are not joining due to how little there is in our area.
We did receive a high response from members requesting a meeting in the North and the Chair of the Yorkshire Committee kindly offered us a slot at a CPD event on 21 May 2019 to facilitate a Member’s Meeting for our members in Yorkshire and the surrounding counties.
What responsibility do you take for the headlines that appeared in the National Press? Smaller charities ‘at the coal face’ seem to be the ones left to deal with rescuing and funding welfare cases, please explain the role of BHS in rescue cases.
Our volunteer Welfare Advisers and employed Field Officers respond to nearly 2,000 new welfare concerns each year that are reported to us by the public, as well as monitoring hundreds of others. We work closely with many other equine charities and equestrian welfare organisations.
The aim of the BHS is to proactively improve welfare through education, rather than concentrate our resources on rescue centres. We run a helpline and information service which is contacted in excess of 14,000 times a year.
We provide advice, support and education with the aim of preventing horses ever reaching the point of needing rescue. We also run proactive Healthcare and Education clinics in order to tackle the overbreeding crisis by providing reduced cost castrations, passporting, microchipping, worming, footcare and dental treatments – over 1000 horses have now attended these clinics.
Why is there not more PR about access issues and BHS speaking up when horse riders are not included?
The BHS is working hard to push equestrian access issues to the forefront of the news agenda and we have recently launched our new ‘Project Jigsaw’ campaign which incorporates all the key strands of work the BHS and its dedicated volunteers are doing in terms of access.
More recently, our 2026 Project Manager was featured live on BBC Breakfast to discuss the 2026 deadline and how more people can get involved with recording their local routes. Over the last couple of months our work across access has also featured on BBC Politics, BBC Radio 4 and many other media outlets, including print, online, radio and television.
We regularly update our website and social media channels with latest news, updates and developments and we continue to promote the fantastic work of our access department in British Horse.
Have the BHS changed their PR company recently as there have been badly worded articles put out by BHS in last few months which have caused upset and misunderstanding?
All PR is created and distributed by the society’s in-house press team, including our ‘Dead Slow’ campaign which was re-launched in March of this year to release our latest road incident statistics.
The press team regularly secure coverage across both national and regional news outlets and work hard to promote the positive work of the society whilst also raising awareness of the issues facing the wider equestrian world.
In the last few months we have featured live on BBC Breakfast to discuss the 2026 deadline and also live in the studio on Sky News to discuss the dangers of riding on rural roads. The coverage we have gained has been vital in raising awareness of the serious issues equestrians are currently experiencing and allow us to reach new audiences with our messages, enabling us to help better protect both horses and those who care for them.
Why didn't the BHS apply to the Heritage Lottery fund to pay researchers for the lost ways project?
We are investing more funds than ever into saving our bridleways from the 2026 cut-off date. The Society also secured £150,000 of funding from Sport England, via the British Equestrian Federation, and has match funded this to work to preserve these safe off road routes for future generations.
We have made bids to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for 2026 research but due to the high number of applications for grants we have unfortunately not been successful in securing any funding as of yet. We will continue to look for opportunities to get funding from National Lottery Heritage Fund and other sources.
Can I donate money so that the funds are used locally?
Each committee has funds which are used for local projects and events. You can donate to your local committee directly. To find your local committee, visit the following page:
Why does the BHS not promote and acknowledge groups such as Pass Wide & Slow and Horse Access Campaign UK who do so much hard work in creating awareness for a common issue?
The British Horse Society Safety Department has acknowledged and developed strong working relationships with many groups who are particularly interested in road safety and the safety of horses on the road. The BHS have excellent contacts within the following organisations and work with them to improve safety:
- The Department of Transport
- Scottish Parliament
- Welsh Assembly
- The Police
- Local Authorities
- Road Safety GB
- PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport and Safety)
- Transport Research Laboratory
- IAM Roadsmart
- Driving Instructors Association
- Motor Schools Association
- Transport Managers from many Distribution Companies and National Companies.
The British Horse Society was instrumental in setting up the Horse Access Campaign UK with its partners, Mid Cotswold Tracks and Trails Trust, the National Federation of Bridleway Associations, Byways and Bridleways Trust and the Trails Trust. The Society is a regular supplier of information for the site. The site was set up to provide another lobbying arm for equestrian issues.
The BHS awarded a Sefton Award to Debbie Smith of Pass Wide and Slow in 2017 and Viv Potts from Horses and Road Safety Awareness (HRSA) in 2016. We also awarded the BHS Safety Award to Sue Russell from HRSA in 2016, Canewdon Equestrian Group in 2017 and Witcham Riding Centre in 2018.
In addition to this, HRSA, Canewdon Equestrians and The Pass Wide & Slow group were invited to Westminster, when we launched the BHS Virtual Reality video to meet and speak with MP’s about their concerns.
The BHS Safety Team welcomes any suggestions from any equestrian group or individual on how we can work together to improve the safety of horses on the road. Please contact the Safety team email@example.com
We particularly ask all groups or individual riders to report any incident on the road to the BHS on www.horseaccidents.org.uk
What do you plan to do about the amount of accidents on roads with horses and what (if any) legislation can be brought?
The BHS lobby Government to ensure horse riders are not the forgotten road user, and we have been speaking with the Minister of Transport to ensure the protection of horse riders is included as part of the new Highway Code Review.
We continue to work with Police units across the UK on close pass operations as well as with other vulnerable road user groups such as British Triathlon, Cycling UK, Living Streets and the motorcycle industry to help strengthen our voice and promote and protect the safety of all vulnerable road users.
To ensure we are reaching key audiences we are also attending and increasing our visibility at motoring events such as the Classic Car Show, the Isle of Man TT races and the Goodwood Revival. These events allow us to spread our safety messaging to non-equestrian audiences.
We believe a change in behaviour is needed with drivers and we are particularly working with driving instructors to involve drivers, so they understand why they should adhere to the dead slow messages. The BHS Safety team is also presenting the Dead Slow message at national driving instructor conferences and national road safety conferences.
In addition to this, the local BHS Kent Committee attended a recent Driving Instructors show, supported by the HQ Safety team. Using our virtual reality headsets and our 360 film, we are able to educate these drivers on what it is like to be on a horse when a vehicle passes too fast or too close.
What other plans does the Society have to expand the rollout of its road safety programme at events other than equestrian events, similar to that carried out at a recent event (I believe it was an automotive event)?
Our attendance at non-equestrian events is a growing and we have and are attending motoring events such as the Classic Car Show, the Isle of Man TT races and the Goodwood Revival to reach even more drivers. We will be at Motorfest at RNAS Yeovilton, and the Royal International Air Tattoo. The BHS have worked with several police units around the UK with share the road campaigns and to deliver close pass operations.
This is an area we would like to expand further.
When is the BHS going to recognise carriage driving as something real ordinary people do and include us in your mainstream?
The BHS represents both horse riders and carriage drivers, and we are absolutely committed to protecting and promoting the interests of both groups. In terms of access, the Society will always strive to provide routes for all equestrians, wherever possible and we have worked closely with the British Driving Society on access related issues for a number of years. In addition to this we are also working with the British Driving Society to set up a Carriage Driving Advice Panel and the BHS’ own Access and Rights of Way Consultative Committee has a carriage driving representative.
Carriage drivers have the same right as riders, and other vulnerable road users such as walkers and cyclists, to have free access to safe off-road routes. While we work to defend and protect existing routes and access throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we also work to extend these routes and promote what is available via The BHS National Equestrian Route Network, which is freely available to view on RideMaps UK.
Given the fast approaching 2026 deadline for DMMO applications does the BHS think that it would be worthwhile employing someone to help various areas find some of the Lost ways?
In October last year we appointed a 2026 Project Manager, Will Steel, if you contact Will on firstname.lastname@example.org we can see what assistance we can offer.
Frequently there is no response to our communication with regard to access issues.
The Society’s Access Department processes over 6,000 orders per annum and deals with over 25,000 access queries a year. Whilst we try to respond to all communications as quickly as possible, sometimes this is not always possible due to volumes at certain times. We would politely ask that if anyone is waiting for a response to kindly send us a reminder.
Does the BHS to work with local councils to maintain, improve and open and re-open bridleways?
We do work with Councils to get routes opened up. Our Paths for Community Fund is also available for local officers and EAGs to make bids to for the creation and improvement of bridleways and byways.
What are the BHS initiatives for lobbying Central Government to improve off road routes for carriage drivers and horse riders? Can the BHS influence central government to change the title of the "Walking and Cycling Strategy" to include horse riders and carriage drivers?
Regarding the Cycling and Walking Strategy this is something we have raised with the Department of Transport, which has resulted in Jesse Norman stating in House of Commons debate on Road Safety, 5 November 2018:
“We should be clear that the cycling and walking strategy may have that name but is absolutely targeted at vulnerable road users, including horse riders”. “Horse riders are vulnerable road users—there is no doubt about that, and there never has been—and they have been included in the work we are doing”
He also stated “The British Horse Society has shown itself to be a formidable campaigning engine in the way that it has managed to lobby my colleagues across the House, and I take my hat off to it. The very first debate in which I took part in my present job was a Westminster Hall debate on the safety of horse riders on roads. Ever since then I have had a very careful concern for the matter.”
How are you getting the local committees to be consistently more active with their membership?
The committees work closely with their Regional or National Managers to provide events, lecture/demo’s, camps and pleasure rides in their areas. The Regional/National Managers come together regularly to discuss activity plans by Region and share best practice and ideas. The Regional/National Managers are always keen to hear any suggestions members have regarding activities they would like to see in their area. Their contact details are listed on the BHS website.
The local committee would love to be more active with our members but we understand we are not allowed to have access to their contact details?
Activities put on by committees are promoted to all members via Regional/National Managers through monthly e-news bulletins and on social media. Contact details are held centrally for data security purposes in line with GDPR protocols.
There has apparently been no movement Faith, Hope and Charity Fund since 2016. When might see these funds put toward welfare?
The Faith, Hope and Charity fund was a restricted fund for Faith, Hope and Charity and others like them. Faith, Hope and Charity are actively living in three BHS Approved Centres. An opportunity to use this fund has arisen and there has been further movement on it in 2019.
We are currently working with the RSPCA to place rescue horses and ponies into our CLtH centres. This has been partially funded by the Elise Pilkington Trust and Faith Hope and Charity restricted fund. We will continue with this project until all of the CLtH centres that wish to participate have been provided with appropriate horses and ponies and then we will look to extend the programme to our Approved Centres.
This year we have placed eight more horses with another five ready to go.
Please could you clarify if the BHS does not actively rescue horses, but work to support others charities whose aims are to rescue? There appears to be some rescue involved as we have seen the PR relating to Faith, Hope and Charity.
Our aim is to proactively improve welfare through education rather than have rescue centres. We work and liaise with other charities and organisations as necessary. Our welfare objectives focus on activities where we can provide advice, support and education to try and prevent horses reaching the point of needing rescuing.
The welfare of all horses is absolutely core to all of the activities that we undertake as a charity. We are not a rescue charity and do not have the facilities to undertake rescue activities, but we do however have good relationships with various rescue centres that we can engage with as and when necessary. The BHS has a network of volunteer Welfare Advisers who respond to concerns in their local area and their main role is to work in an advisory capacity to help improve any concerns. Like other charities the BHS does not have any legal powers; in serious cases, or cases whereby horse owners do not make improvements, our advisers will endeavour to liaise with other organisations to help resolve the problems.
Our welfare strategy is improve welfare through proactive education and to influence changes in human behaviours relative to horse welfare; by providing education, knowledge and resources (such as provided by our volunteer Welfare Advisers) to prevent cruelty, neglect or abuse. We have over 200 volunteer Welfare Advisers and also salaried Field Officers who provide advice, support and education to help prevent situations deteriorating to the point of needing to involve a charity which does have welfare facilities.
We need the passports to mean something. I think the BHS should do more in stopping the irresponsible breeding issues. Why can’t the BHS to take responsibility of the horse passport system?
We are part of the British Horse Council which has played a fundamental role in lobbying for change with regards to Equine ID regulations.
All horses are now required to have a microchip and passport by law – failure to comply will result in sanctions from the Local Authority, including fixed penalty notices if they still have not microchipped their horse by 1st October 2020.
This will enable irresponsible owners to be held properly accountable for the treatment of their horse. We are an ID Passport Issuing Organisation and organise many passporting and microchipping clinics to aid compliance with this regulation.
There are welfare officers voted onto committee's who have been there over a year and no training has been available or offered for them?
Every year we organise a programme of Welfare Adviser Training Days with the aim of increasing the coverage of our volunteers as well as providing refresher training to our existing volunteer team. In 2019 we have 11 training days planned throughout the UK. Sometimes there can be a gap between when an application is received and when a training day in a specific region is being held and/or the applicant is able to attend. To ensure they are supported during this time, we assign each applicant a mentor, who they can be in contact with and attend concerns with to get the feel of the role prior to training. The amount of concerns they attend will always depend on how many concerns we receive in that specific area.
How does the society propose to improve the support that should be there for volunteers?
The society is always looking for opportunities to develop and strengthen the relationship we share with our volunteers. Our Welfare Team now includes a Welfare Volunteer Coordinator as part of the team and their role is to support and facilitate our network of more than 200 volunteer Welfare Advisers. We also provide an out of hours contact for our Welfare Advisers which is available 24/7. We are building up our team of employed Field Officers and currently have three – based South East, North Wales and Wales and they also provide support to Advisers outside of these areas.
Is your main focus education? Does Access, Safety & Welfare come secondary to Education?
The BHS has always had education at the heart of all our charitable objectives. We believe that through education we can improve Access, Safety and especially Welfare.
However, although underpinning much of our work, our Education system is predominantly self-funding through our qualification structure and is the area that receives the smallest percentage of charitable funding from membership or donors.
Why doesn't the BHS push to make it a criminal offence to teach without qualifications, insurance, first aid and safeguarding as accredited instructors are educators? This would protect the public.
We continue to work with Government to try and ensure coaching is a licenced industry. We must continue to grow the number of Accredited Professional Coaches in order to have a larger and ultimately more influential voice to Government – this is our priority at this time. In addition we continue to work with insurance firms to encourage cheaper costs for Accredited and qualified coaches in the hope that this will improve accessibility.
The 'Ride Safe' handbook was meant to be updated and a new version coming out but so far nothing?
The re-write is nearing completion and expected to be completed and printed this summer. The Ride Safe Guide is still available for purchase in the BHS Book Shop and we will announce when the updated version is available in due course.
Riders now feel that £95 is too expensive for the assessment as well as the cost of training and travelling to a BHS Approved Centre to be assessed for Ride Safe. How do the BHS propose to get these riders on board?
We are constantly looking at costs of all our assessments. Ride Safe can be accessed for as low as £50, including Ride Safe and High Vis if purchased by centres or coaches as closed course. We will be looking at cost specifically for Ride Safe due to the element of riding out safely incorporated in the Challenge Awards.
BHS Approved Centres seem to be closing due to rising costs of insurance, business rates etc. Can the BHS do anything to help riding schools?
We appointed our UK Approvals Business Development Manager this year with the specific aim to engage with and support both riding schools and livery centres. Work includes the identification of differing successful business models, consideration of diversification, improved marketing to promote their businesses and promotion/development of employer and employee relationships to help with staff retention.
In addition to free advice on rates and access to legal help line, all BHS Approved Centres have free access to a VAT specialist to advise them on matters pertaining to business Tax.
The BHS has been campaigning for several years about the impact of business rates. The Society has written to every MP in England and Wales to highlight the plight that riding schools and livery yards face, and explaining the effect this will have on the equine industry as a whole. Every MP will have riding schools and livery yards in their constituency and it is vital that they are aware of the devastating impact this increase in rateable values will have.
The BHS has written to all of their Approved Centres with a tool kit including a sample letter that they can send out to their local MP. We are encouraging riding schools and livery yards to invite their MP to visit them to see what impact this increase is having on their business.