For thousands of years humans have had a unique love affair with horses. These majestic animals have been loyal servants over the years, originally being used to work for us and make our tasks and lives easier.
With the introduction of the combustion engine and other various new technologies to be born out of the industrial revolution, horse use has declined dramatically in terms of commercial use. Horses were no longer needed to pull ploughs or carriages as cars and tractors took their place.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, where commercial use of horses has declined, the use of horses for pleasure purposes has increased dramatically, sparking a completely new branch of the UK economy since the introduction of motor vehicles.
Horse riding is a popular pastime amongst the British population. It is estimated that there are currently over 2 million of us that will mount a horse at least once a month, and this figure is set to rise in the years to come as both the equine sector and UK population grows.
The contribution to the UK economy by horse riders is substantial, perhaps as much as £3bn it is thought. Many people, it is thought perhaps over 500,000 in fact, own or part own horses and there is a huge part of the retail sector dedicated to supplying specific horse accessories and care products like horse bedding and bits.
You may be surprised to hear that horse racing is the second most popular spectator sport for the British public. The sport attracts more than 6 million people to racing grounds each year, many of these individuals will bet on race outcomes driving revenue for the gambling industry as well.
The horse racing sector is a source of many jobs in the UK, and many other sectors rely on it to provide some aspects of their employment. Over 20,000 people are employed full-time in the horse racing industry and as many as 70,000 are employed within full-time positions through other sectors linked with horse racing. In addition to these jobs, the horse retail sector not only provides recreational horse riders with care products and accessories but also the horse racing industry. These retailers and other associated businesses provide another 28,000 full-time positions.
Needless to say, the equine sector plays a significant role in the economy of the UK, especially in relation to the rural and leisure industries. Although primarily hosted within the countryside, figures show that riding schools and stables are attracting more and more people from urban centres. This trend is set to continue to rise over the coming years as people realise and the notion is dispelled that horse riding is not only a pastime and hobby for the affluent. In turn the equine industry’s contribution to the UK’s economy should grow in correlation.
- Photograph by Albert Bridge [CC-BY-SA-2.0]
For a wonderful collection of equestrian products, including horse bedding, take a look at the dedicated Ashurst Farm Feeds online store.