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Your Membership | How you’re Supporting our Charitable Work

6 Apr 2020

The British Horse Society was founded in 1947, and we have grown over the past 70 years to become the largest and most influential equestrian charity in the UK with over 110,000 members.

The BHS wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have today without our volunteers and members. They help us to fund our work in education, equestrian welfare, access and safety, and they also give us a greater voice when lobbying government on behalf of the horse, and those who care for them.

The BHS charity is dedicated to knowledge, encouraging people and horses to enjoy life together. Below we provide an update on some of the fantastic projects the BHS has been working on.

Safety: 

The British Horse Society is dedicated to making the world a safer place for horses and those who care for them. As the number of vehicles increase resulting in busier roads this means these routes are becoming much more dangerous to use, especially for vulnerable road users like horse riders and carriage drivers.

Over the last few years we have received an increasing number of reported incidents involving horses and vehicles. Between November 2010 and March 2019, 3,737 road incidents involving horses were reported. Tragically, these incidents have resulted in the deaths of 315 horses and 43 people. Our aim is to reduce these figures by educating all road users and campaigning to make drivers aware of what to do if they encounter a horse on the road.


safety and accidents work


The BHS have worked with companies who have large fleets of vehicles, such as John Lewis, Waitrose, Warburton’s, Stagecoach, Morrison’s and others, to educate their drivers. We deliver presentations to either the drivers or the instructors and offer materials to include in their own training packages, helping to spread the 'Dead Slow' message of how to pass horses safely.

We also travel across the UK holding Road and Rider Awareness evenings together with the local police, legal representatives, and other relevant bodies where possible. These evenings are aimed at equestrian and other vulnerable road user groups to inform them on rights and responsibilities whilst out on the roads. This includes advice about the Highway Code, the legal aspects and possible liability implications, but more importantly an opportunity for all present to discuss their experiences and find out more about the Dead Slow campaign.



Welfare: 

We're working for a world in which the welfare of horses is universally respected and protected, and in which all those who ride, drive or work with horses can do so safely, enjoyably and with the highest personal competence.

We don’t rescue horses, but we do aim to prevent them from needing to be rescued in the first place. Our volunteer Welfare Advisers work with owners through support, advice and education to try and remedy problems before they become serious. We responded to over 1,257 new welfare concerns in order to promote the prevention of neglect, cruelty, harm and poor care to horses.


BHS Welfare


We hold Healthcare and Education Clinics which aim to break the cycle of indiscriminate breeding by reaching out to the most vulnerable owners and communities who may not normally seek regular healthcare for their horses.

In 2019 alone, 254 horses attended our clinics for reduced cost healthcare, and 103 of those were castrated. Not only have we prevented potential future foals from suffering, we have immediately improved the welfare of those horses brought forward for gelding. Many of those colts would have been previously tethered and fly-grazed, and are now able to live on yards or be turned out unchained in fields.

We also responded to approximately 8,850 helpline enquiries for a wide range of advice including how to apply for a passport, the safe removal and disposal of ragwort, the most effective way to manage pasture. Our experienced and knowledgeable Welfare Helpline Coordinators, located in BHS Head Quarters, are on hand to offer advice or support to anyone who needs it.



Access: 

As the volume and speed of traffic on our roads increases, the need for safe off-road riding and carriage driving for the equine network becomes more important. We are involved in many different projects and campaigns dedicated to enhancing and maintaining the UK’s national equestrian network.

We lobby to protect the network of equestrian routes we currently have and increase the number of off-road routes for riders and carriage drivers across the UK.


BHS Access


On 1 January 2026, bridleways in England and Wales that aren’t formally recorded will be lost to the public. Our aim is to safeguard bridleways for public use so that equestrians today and in the future have safe off-road routes to ride on. To help you to help us save these routes, we’ve created a toolkit detailing how to go about getting them recorded to ensure that they won’t be lost after 2026.

We also organise events and training around the UK to provide you the information you need to defend your Rights of Way.



Changing Lives Through Horses: 

Changing Lives through Horses has the potential to reach these people at a critical point in their lives. We aim to celebrate the powerful impact that horses can have on our society and the unique development of life skills which can help young people for the rest of their lives.

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. The programme works to develop six key life skills through equestrian activity: Communication, Confidence, Relationships, Teamwork, Responsibility, Personal Achievement.


Safeguarding Children




We are proud of the work we have accomplished but we know there is a lot more to do.

All of our vital charitable work couldn’t be done without the help of your BHS Membership and generous donations.

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