Dressage in Britain makes “remarkable recovery” post Covid

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British Dressage membership numbers have topped the 18,000-member mark for the first time, and horse registrations are also up.
File image by romavor

Membership and horse registrations at British Dressage are at record levels, with CEO Jason Brautigam describing it as “a remarkable recovery”.

At the end of 2021, membership numbers exceeded the 18,000-member mark for the first time, with 18,132 members active in February. The membership milestone has been an ambition for British Dressage for many years.

During the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, membership levels fell to just over 14,000. But membership numbers recovered to pre-pandemic levels within ten weeks of the resumption of activity last spring and the sport has continued to grow at a rapid rate ever since. There has been a 23% rise in member numbers in the last 12 months alone.

The highest level of horses registered with British Dressage reached its highest level in June 2021, and numbers have continued to grow month on month since to sit just short of 16,800.

An increase in membership and horses has also meant more combinations have gone down the centreline and, despite some challenges from the recent storms, starter numbers have also been positive over the winter.

“It has been quite a remarkable recovery from where we were at the height of the pandemic, and to reach such a significant membership milestone is a tremendous achievement for BD staff, our volunteers, venues and officials, as well as all of our competitors, who have worked so hard to get the sport back on track. It has been a real team effort, for which I’m both immensely proud and grateful,” Brautigam said.

“We took great care to safeguard the sport during the pandemic and endeavoured to keep the BD community informed throughout. As we finally emerge from the crisis, it is satisfying to see that these collective efforts have paid dividends, meaning we are in a strong position to reinvest in the sport we all love, for the benefit of all participants.

“Hopefully with Covid now behind us, we can continue to develop British Dressage in line with the strategic plan that we launched last year, with a number of projects coming to fruition soon.”

This included the first group of judges booking into the new judge education system in April, and a new professional package for coaches.

“We have started the year extremely well and have much to look forward to over the year ahead, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued input and support.”

Brautigam also noted that members had embraced the biannual chance to compete in the sport’s largest series, with the introduction of two seasons for the Petplan Equine Area Festivals. Entries and starters for the Winter Area Festivals are set to finish up by just over 6% on last year, with one rescheduled fixture to run.

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