$10m boost for British Equestrian to bring horse sport to the masses

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In the BEF's last Sport England funding cycle, it helped fund places at Ride High through the Tackling Inequalities Fund.
In the BEF’s last Sport England funding cycle, it helped fund places at Ride High through the Tackling Inequalities Fund. Ride High is a registered charity that gives disadvantaged children aged 8 to 17 in Milton Keynes the opportunity to learn to ride and look after horses and ponies. The charity works with children living in the most deprived areas for whom there is no or little support available. © Ride High

Britain’s national equestrian foundation is the recipient of more than £5 million in a Sport England plan to improve access to sport and physical activity.

British Equestrian (BEF) will receive expertise, support and an investment of £5,187,216 ($NZ10.1m; $US6.4m) of government and National Lottery funding to co-deliver Sport England’s ambitious 10-year £550 million Uniting the Movement strategy.

BEF is one of more than 120 organisations working in partnership with Sport England to level up access to sport and physical activity across the country.

Sport England research shows that some groups are typically less active – such as women, people with long-term health conditions, disabled people, people from ethnically diverse communities and lower socio-economic groups. This meant that the opportunities to get involved in sport and activity – and reap the rewards of being active – depend too much on background, gender, bank balance and postcode.

British Equestrian is committed to a more inclusive and accessible approach to better connect communities and the joy of horses. Equestrianism is a model sport for gender equality, age range, disability access and at its core is accessible to most socio-economic groups. But the BEF said it was “less successful in promoting ethnic diversity and this must become a feature of our future if we are to thrive and represent society better”.

The federation said that it would, with its member bodies and the wider equestrian industry, ensure tackling inequalities is embedded in everything it does, and adapt its approaches to remove barriers and increase access.

“We will also aim to develop our advocacy, communication and influence, to provide greater awareness of our sport, and the wellbeing benefits of being with horses.”

BEF said it would also focus on expanding the reach of its talent and performance pathway by providing opportunities for entry points that promote accessibility and inclusivity, establishing “a solidly founded and diverse cultural legacy for the future”.

British Equestrian Head of Participation Mandana Mehran Pour said the BEF would encourage and support sustainable growth at all levels to ensure a thriving and increasingly diverse and inclusive sport.

“Our aim is to tackle inequalities in equestrian sport and it will form a major part of our workflow as a key focus in our overall strategy,” Pour said.

The federation had commissioned research to understand the barriers of participation in horse riding, vaulting or carriage driving. “This is the first major piece of work done in this area and we hope to learn through lived experience of people from ethnically diverse communities and low socio-economic backgrounds which will help us to facilitate the way forward to our end goal.”

Sport England is a public body and invests up to £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport.

It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity.

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