The British Horse Society (BHS) has today (18 May) launched a new campaign, Keep Britain Riding, in a bid to safeguard the long-term prospects of the equestrian industry, and to protect and nurture the special horse-human bond for future generations.

This comes after a major threat emerged following a nationwide survey by the BHS, which revealed that over 250 riding schools have closed since 2018, as well as the discovery that proprietors are either retiring and/or unable to recruit enough qualified coaches and staff to run their centres.

As a result of these closures, more than 1.5 million riding lessons have now been lost per year, which amounts to 1.5 million fewer opportunities for children and adults to enjoy the benefits of spending time in the saddle and with horses.

“We need to address the decline in riding centres for a number of reasons,” said James Hick, Chief Executive at the BHS. “Firstly, simply so more people from more backgrounds can experience the benefits of riding. Secondly, most recreational and professional riders will start their journey as a child in a riding school. And thirdly, we know that good horse care and welfare is reliant on a thriving, knowledgeable and experienced workforce.”

While the aim of Keep Britain Riding is to generate funds and reverse this trend to keep Britain’s equestrianism thriving, the campaign also celebrates the unique horse-human relationship and all the benefits it brings. The BHS is encouraging anyone who has experienced the “true wonder of horses” to share their photos and videos of what these animals have meant to them using the hashtag #horsehumanbond

The charity is also calling for donations to allow them to expand their activity around increased diversity.

“The horse-human relationship can be transformational for people’s physical and mental wellbeing, no matter their background or experience,” said James. “We have seen this first-hand here at the BHS, particularly through our Changing Lives through Horses programme, which has just registered its 2000th participant. This scheme is critical as we campaign to make riding accessible to everyone.

“This programme provides just one example of how truly precious the bond with horses is and it’s frightening to think that, with every day that goes by, people are losing the opportunity to experience what that relationship feels like. In 2018, there were 1,747 riding schools in the UK. Today there are 1,497 – or less.”

‘A constant inspiration’

Martin Clunes at Limes Equestrian. © 2019 Nico Morgan. All Rights Reserved

The BHS is also involving a number of its ambassadors in the campaign, including its President Martin Clunes.

“Horses are part of my everyday life – their beauty, bravery, strength and companionship constantly inspires me,” Martin said. “The thought that future generations may not have the same opportunity to know the joys that horses can bring truly saddens me.”

To learn more about the BHS’s Keep Britain Riding campaign and how you can help the charity in its mission to make sure the equestrian industry continues to thrive, visit

To donate to the BHS and their Changing Lives through Horses programme, visit

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