Horse riders have bucked a British trend with an increase in participation numbers for equestrian sport in the past year.
The latest Sport England Active Lives Adult survey describes as an impressive upturn in participation for equestrianism, making it one of only a few traditional sports to see an increase in the previous 12 months. The survey, which is conducted in England by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Sport England, reports the activity levels of members of the public aged 16 and over.
Although the percentage of people taking part in all sporting activities reduced by 2.3% in the period May 2017/18 to May 2018/19 – equating to a drop of over 970,000 people – equestrianism saw a significant increase. The survey reported that 311,200 people now ride fortnightly, representing a significant increase of 49,400 riders in the past year.
British Equestrian Federation Head of Participation Anna Hall said the BEF was delighted at the numbers taking part in horse sport. “This increase mirrors the one previously reported by the British Equestrian Trade Association’s National Equestrian Survey, which was published earlier this year and showed a 10% increase in annual participation over the past five years.”
The report shows a gender gap for all sport and physical activity, with men more likely to be active than women. This gap has narrowed since reporting began, with it now standing at 313,600.
Horse riding is one sport where the trend of higher levels of male participation are not seen. Women are far more likely to ride horses than men, and through the recent survey, this figure is seen to be on the increase. It is reported that 88% of people riding at least fortnightly are women. The number of women riding has increased by more than 20%, from 226,400 to 272,600 riding fortnightly. The number of men riding did increase, but not significantly.
“We know, on average, that women are less likely to be physically active than men, and so are pleased that our sport continues to attract a high proportion and an increasing number of female participants while still providing opportunities for all genders to get involved at all levels,” Hall said.