What is horse riding?

Equestrianism covers a multitude of different horse sports, and is one of Britain’s most successful Olympic and Paralympic sports. In Great Britain, millions of people continue to be involved with horses and horse riding remains a favourite past time. Horse riding is extremely versatile; regardless of your age, ability or background, anyone can enjoy the different equestrian activities. Once the basics have been mastered, there are numerous options to suit all, whether that is enjoying the fresh air, hacking around the countryside or trying your hand at jumping or reining.

The British Equestrian Federation:

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) is the National Governing Body for horse sports in the UK, affiliated to the Federation Equestre Internationale  (FEI), the international governing body of equestrian sports. It exists to provide leadership, vision and purpose in steering the direction of equestrianism. Its patron is HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

The BEF is an umbrella organisation representing the interests of millions of riders, vaulters and carriage drivers in Great Britain via 19 independent member bodies (15 members and 4 associates). Established in 1972 it is the largest representative body within the equestrian industry.

As a result of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy, the BEF continues to drive participation in equestrian sport.  They aim to encourage more people to take up horse riding, driving, vaulting and volunteering by connecting people to riding centres, schools, clubs and equestrian sporting organisations.

Those interested in taking up horse riding can find their local riding centre at

Accessibility Mark

Horse riding is now more accessible than ever thanks to a new initiative, Accessibility Mark, developed by the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA), in partnership with the BEF. Accessibility Mark encourages those who do not already partake in equestrian activities or would not usually have the opportunity to do so, to experience the many benefits that riding can bring. Accessibility Marked riding centres have undergone specialist training from the RDA to enable them to offer fun and safe horse riding for people with disabilities.

Young Equestrians

Delivered through The Pony Club approved centres, Young Equestrians is predominately aimed at 13-18 year olds allowing young people to make friends, develop their skills, try out some of the different horse sports available and get fit in the fresh air. No matter what your ability your local Young Equestrians group has been designed to provide you with more choice and freedom, helping you to develop skills including leadership whilst taking responsibility for the activities you takes part in with your new friends.

Young Equestrians Leaders Award

The Young equestrian Leaders Award (YELA) is an award scheme developed in conjunction with the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) designed to recognise the time and effort young volunteers give to equestrianism and shape their experience, so they become equestrian leaders of the future.

YELA runs over three progressive levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold and introduces skills in responsibility, organisation and communication which are developed through the levels. The Gold Award requires 120 hours of volunteering, encouraging leadership and the planning and delivery of a specific project.

Participation Project

The Participation Project is an informal community created between livery yards and riding centres to help current or potential horse owners access a network of advice, knowledge and education on riding and horse care. Set up in conjunction with the British Horse Society, the project aims to support the transition to horse ownership and this is done through activities and courses which are run as part of the scheme.

School Games

The School Games is a national programme delivered through partnerships that aims to inspire millions of young people across the UK to take part in competitive sport. The Games are made up of four levels of activity: competition in schools, between schools, at county/ area level and nationally.

Equestrian sport can be accessed from as early as primary school where children are educated on horses and the skills obtained through equestrian sport and this is carried out through unmounted and mounted activities. Outside of schools, children can take part in School Games activities at their nearest riding centre.

Coaching & Development

The British Equestrian Federation’s 19 member bodies are delivering UKCC coaching courses from Levels 1-4 to ensure the highest levels of quality standard within all equestrian sports. The term coaching refers to teaching, instructing, training and all methods of helping a horse and rider partnership to improve. To find out more about funding coaching schemes please talk to you CSP.

To find out more information and how you can give horses a go visit

Keep up to date with news and events at and

 Your Local Centre:

Centre Name




Bigland Equestrian Centre


015395 30333 

 Witherslack Hall 

 Grange over Sands

 015395 52244 

 Happy Hooves

 Eamont Bridge, Penrith

 01768 862153 

Murthwaite Green 


01229 770876 

Equestrian in your area

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Jo Underhill

Participation Officer 

British Equestrian Federation

T: 024 76 698871

M: 07506 760657