The fact that we now describe the economic activity surrounding the horse as an “industry” shows the progress we have made over the last 10 years, as well as reflecting the changing face of the agricultural and leisure markets in this time.
But what is the horse industry?
The horse industry is more varied than almost any other sector either within agriculture or in the wider leisure industry.
Essentially it can be divided into two parts:
- Activities based on the use, possession or ownership of horses (Core activities)
- Suppliers of horse related goods and services for those core activities (providers to the core)
Activities forming the core part of the industry range from professional through to leisure. In between lie many semi professional riders and participants whose interest is split between earning a living and pure leisure activity.
The industry core caters directly for the needs of consumers. The activities geared toward professional riders include commercial breeders, affiliated sports such as dressage and show jumping, training and racing. The leisure oriented activities include the provision of riding lessons, trekking and tourist attractions.
The other part of the industry is made up of providers of goods and services to the core. Examples include farriery, feed supply and veterinary services, livery yards etc.
Each of these components offer employment to significant numbers of people often in a rural community where opportunities are reducing.
National Equestrian Survey 2015
The British Equestrian Trade Association’s National Equestrian Survey 2015 – conducted by Two Circles – highlights new spending patterns and changing trends over the past five years. It uses robust methodology, accurate statistics and educated estimates to present a fascinating insight into the equestrian sector today. Key findings include:
The economic value of the equestrian sector stands at £4.3 billion of consumer spending across a wide range of goods and services each year. This has increased from £3.8 billion in 2011.
Riding for pleasure, at 96%, was the most popular equestrian activity, with 59% of riders taking part in non-affiliated competitions.
The overall number of those who ride has fallen, from 3.5 million in 2011 to 2.7 million in 2015.
There has been a decline in regular riders, from 1.6 million in 2011 to 1.3 million in 2015.
However, there has been significant growth in the number of riders aged between 16 and 24, rising from 368,000 in 2011 to 403,000 in 2015.
There remains a strong gender bias, with females representing 74% of the riding population. In 2015, there are an estimated 962,000 female regular riders compared with 348,000 males.
There has been significant growth in the number of riders aged between 16 and 24, rising from 368,000 in 2011 to 403,000 in 2015.
While 18% of ex-riders said that cost was the reason they gave up, lost access to a horse was also noted as a prominent factor.
Of the ex-riders, 34% said they would be interested in returning to horse riding in the future.
An estimated 3 million people have taken a riding holiday in the past 12 months. Older riders, of 55 and over, are more likely to do this.
There are an estimated 446,000 horse-owning households in the country. This figure is strikingly similar to that of 2011, when there were 451,000.
The number of horses in Britain has fallen from 988,000 in 2011 to 944,000 in 2015. This figure includes those owned privately but kept by others or owned by private establishments.
There are 19 million equestrian consumers in Britain with a range of associated interests. This figure has remained fairly constant over the past 20 years.
In 2015, indirect spending on equestrian items such as hats and body protectors, clothing, books and magazines stands at £560 million, compared with £557 million in 2011.
In 2011, 60% of people expected to cut back on non-essential products, but this figure has dropped significantly, with only 38% planning to do so.
Buying equestrian goods in bricks-and-mortar stores and online has continued to grow. In 2011, 83% of people bought from a retail store and, four years later, 97% do so. In 2011, 49% of people ordered equestrian goods from the Internet and this figure has grown to 64%.
In 2015, an estimated £3,600 is spent on each horse, compared with £2,650 in 2011.
Click here to order a copy of the 2015 National Equestrian Survey