Overview of the UK equine industry
The UK equine industry covers a broad spectrum of equine interests, with over 19 disciplines. Athletes of both sexes and all ages compete on an equal footing, making equestrianism one of the only gender neutral and age neutral sports. At an elite level, equestrian sport in Great Britain has enjoyed increased success in recent years across all disciplines, with outstanding medal winning performances at both the London and Rio Olympic Games. It thus has a wide public appeal with an extensive competitive calendar as well many non-competitive participants who simply enjoy it as a healthy outdoor pursuit and connection to nature.
There are around 1 million horses in the UK.
There are 1.3 million regular riders, with a further 3.1 million former riders who would like to return to the saddle. Riding engages a higher proportion of people with disabilities, women and those aged over 45 than other sports making it a key sector for focus on those areas. Nearly 40% of those taking part do not participate in any other form of physical activity.1
The UK equine industry contributes £8 billion a year to the economy with a gross output of £4.3 billion a year.
The equine industry is the second largest rural employer after agriculture. The industry employed (and self-employed) workforce is estimated at 250,0002 . In addition 1.2 million volunteers provide their time to help the delivery of equestrian events or activity, of these 400,000 people are regular volunteers, volunteering over 10 times a year3.
BEF member organisations such as The Pony Club and RDA ensure there is a talent pool of potential world class athletes. However the sport will benefit from growing the participation of 3.1m lapsed riders, women, riders over 45 and those with disabilities. A key part of this is supporting and developing the workforce, as well as protecting the sector from increasing costs from rates and taxes.
The FEI publishes the following statistics about its operations and membership.