Equestrian sports have bucked the trend when it comes to female participation in sports, a new campaign launched in Britain this week has highlighted.
On Monday the national campaign ‘This Girl Can’ was launched, encouraging women and girls of all ages, sizes and abilities to get active. With headlines such as “sweating like a pig feeling like a fox” and “I kick balls, deal with it” This Girl Can aims to quash the fear of being judged as a barrier to taking part in sport.
Sport England research shows that, by every measure, fewer women than men play sport regularly – two million fewer 14-40 year olds in total. According to insight from the British Equestrian Trade Association, equestrian sport is bucking the trend in female participation with women making up over 73% of the equestrian community.
Research shows that there is a large spread in the demographic that participate in equestrian sport; 0.16% of the male population over the age of 16 take part whereas 1.37% of the female population are regular riders spanning from the age of two through to 65+ according to the last Active People Survey results. A large resurgence of participation is also seen between the ages of 30-40.
Equestrian sport has something to offer everyone, with a varied landscape of opportunities from adrenaline pumping eventing, hand-standing on the back of a moving horse in vaulting to enjoying the countryside from a different perspective. Common motivators to horse ride are the social opportunities that equestrian sport provides and the feeling of being part of a wider group that it engenders.
Emma Sumbler of Hall Place Equestrian Centre said “women often have a strong affinity with horse riding because of the relationship you build with the horse. Women enjoy the challenge and the lifestyle equestrianism brings. The sense of community and support within not only our yard but the industry is fantastic, you never feel alone.”
It is time to spread the message that horses don’t care if you wiggle, jiggle or pant your way around an arena; instead you’ll find a willing exercise partner and friend who will help you to double the sweat.
Riders are encouraged to post pictures of themselves showing a sweat-up after riding, their hat hair and group rides photos, on their Facebook or Twitter pages, with the hashtag #thisgirlcan.