Challenges Continue to Hinder Delivery of Riding Activities Across the UK

8 October 2023

Last September, British Equestrian , working with member bodies The British Horse Society, the Association of British Riding Schools (ABRS+), The Pony Club , Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) and horsescotland, announced that Britain’s riding centres were facing a supply and demand dilemma. Twelve months on, according to a recent repeat of the survey, there has been little change and workforce shortages and increasing operational costs are significantly hindering any opportunity to improve.

The headline findings of the ‘Health of Riding Establishments’ research conducted in 2022 concluded that the sector was operating in a ‘supply and demand predicament’, with most centres operating at an average capacity of 75%.  This spring, the survey was repeated in order to measure any change and to also delve deeper into current challenges.

British Equestrian and the wider federation are committed to continuing their collaboration on improving the support they offer to equestrian establishments. A great deal has been achieved following the 2022 survey, when six key action areas were identified:

  • Workforce
  • Horsepower
  • Licencing
  • Capacity demands
  • Growth
  • Rising costs
A working group, which meets quarterly, has made good progress on a united front for lobbying on licencing. Funding has been made available via a number of initiatives with Sport England and member body support, while support for workforce development has been launched and a project on skills mapping for industry qualifications is nearing completion.
Find out more –
“Across Britain, riding schools are operating in an increasingly struggling sector, and an already precarious situation has been exacerbated first by the pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis. Put simply, our equestrian establishments are on the brink of a disaster and traditional delivery models are under threat if we don’t find ways to address the issues. If workforce and horsepower issues could be resolved, many centres could be operating at 100% capacity,” explains Mandana Mehran Pour, British Equestrian’s Head of Participation

Earlier in 2023, The British Horse Society launched a ‘Keep Britain Riding’ campaign to highlight the issue. Their research detailed that 15% of Britain’s riding schools have closed since 2018, which equates to 1.5 million riding lessons lost every year. Addressing the workforce shortage, both paid and volunteer, is a key factor and the British Grooms Association (BGA), together with with Equestrian Employers Association (EEA), has joined the federation’s working group to add their expertise.

Despite the numerous challenges, there is optimism in the sector – 61% of centres stated that they have a positive outlook for the future of their establishment. Many are working on ways to engage with their waiting lists and seeking to expanding their offering, with around 29% of delivery time now dedicated to off-horse activities to reduce the requirement for coaches and, indeed, horses. Livery services, horse care sessions, ‘pony parties’ and equine-assisted services are just a selection of ways that centres are making additional income.

The ABRS+ will be holding a free Webinar on 23 Oct 23 @ 12.00 hrs with Mandana Mehran Pour, Head of Participation at the BEF, who will go through the results of the 2023 Survey and discuss progress in the action areas. If you would like to join, please register
You can read the full Article on the British Equestrian Website here , and there are additional reports and details of the findings below:




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