National Equestrian Survey Overview


The British Equestrian Trade Association’s 2011 National Equestrian Survey – conducted by Sportswise – highlights new spending patterns and changing trends over the past five years. It uses accurate statistics and reliable estimates to present a clear picture of the British equestrian sector. Headline findings include:

  • An estimated 3.5 million people in Britain have ridden during 2010-11. Although this is 19 per cent less than in 2005-6, it is 1.1 million more than in 1998-9.*
  • There is increased interest in riding for pleasure, schooling, riding lessons, competition – both affiliated and non-affiliated – and hunting.
  • About 1.6 million people ride at least once a month, up from 1.4 million in 1998-9 but considerably lower than 2005-6 estimates of 2.1 million.
  • Forty-eight per cent of regular riders are aged 24 and under, but significant growth has appeared among those aged 45 and over.
  • The seasonality of riding has changed, with 98 per cent riding all year round, whereas the figure was only 61 per cent in 1995-6.
  • The main reason given for stopping riding is that it is too expensive – a change from 2005-6, when a loss of interest was cited.
  • Forty-two per cent of ex-riders – 1.3 million – said they planned to ride again in the future.
  • There are an estimated 900,000 privately owned horses and 451,000 horse owners in Britain. This figure rises to just below 1 million when the 88,000 horses owned by the professional sector are added.
  • It is estimated that direct expenditure for the upkeep and care of horses stands at ?2.8 billion – ?3,105 per horse, per annum – compared with ?2.6 billion in 2005-6.
  • Other costs involved in owning a horse are estimated at ?557 million a year, including ?191 million spent on footwear and ?129 million on riding hats and body protectors.
  • The gross output of the equestrian sector is valued at ?3.8 billion a year, lower than previously but reflecting the shrinking consumer market caused by the economic downturn. It is still, however, an extremely large figure in its own right, boosted significantly when other equine-related activities such as racing (an estimated ?3.7 billion) and major equestrian events (an estimated ?6 million) are factored in.

* The variation between 2006 and 2011 estimates might be partly a result of margins of error in each survey. The actual number of people who have ridden in the past 12 months could be several per cent plus/minus the proportion shown in the survey, for example.

The British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) allows the statistics and estimates contained in this document to be reproduced, on the understanding that full acknowledgement is given to the BETA National Equestrian Survey. If other parts are reproduced, permission must first be sought from BETA.

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