Campaigns, Successes and Claims

Campaigns:

Select a campaign from the list below:

New Agricultural Policy

Please contact your local MP to support The British Horse Society’s call for farmers and landowners to be paid to widen the network available to horse riders, and to help maintain the network as part of any future subsidy scheme under the Agriculture Bill. 

You can find and contact your local MP from the websites below:

www.writetothem.com

https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/

A draft letter is set out below; if you are a carriage driver please amend as appropriate.

 Dear

Re: The Agriculture Bill

The £4.3 billion horse industry is important to agriculture and land use.

The forthcoming Agriculture Bill will set the agenda for the future of our countryside. It will have far-reaching consequences for both the quality of our environment and all those who seek to enjoy it.

I am a horse rider and believe that responsible access to the countryside is inherently beneficial to society. Opportunities to improve and enhance access should be integral to the Agriculture Bill. The benefits of countryside access are well proven to enhance both physical and mental health and well being. Riding is also an effective way for women and children to exercise alone as they feel safe on horseback.

In England, horse riders have access to only 22% of the public rights of way network and horse-drawn carriage drivers to only 5%, meaning that they have to use busy roads to access the countryside and the existing fragmented public rights of way network.

In the past six years, the Society’s records show that there have been 2900 reports of road incidents involving horses, 39 rider deaths, 230 horse deaths, 840 horses injured and it is believed that these statistics are under reported. An improved network is desperately needed for equestrians so that riding in the countryside does not become a thing of the past.

Please support The British Horse Society’s call for farmers and landowners to be paid to widen the network available to horse riders and to help maintain it as part of any future subsidy scheme under the Agriculture Bill.  In particular, I would be most grateful if you would confirm that you support the provision of access for horse riders away from the vehicular road network.

Better Bridleways for Essex

Essex needs more bridleways and now is the time to spread the word amongst the riding community and beyond. Bridleways mean freedom for all and our main campaign continues to be for Better Bridleways for Essex and we hope you will work with us to highlight the need for more safe off road routes for horse riders that can also be used by all those that love and enjoy our beautiful countryside.

EBA is being proactive and we hope you will all join us to do what you can to spread the word and give us a greater voice to make change happen.

Last year we made our voices heard by those who can influence change and we are definitely seeing an impact in our work. we will continue to campaign for better bridleways in our fast growing county and we are working closely with other organisations such as the BHS to get our voices heard and improve the availability of safe open spaces and bridleways for riders in Essex

Claims:

See Update Autumn 2017 and Spring 2018: 

https://issuu.com/essexbridlewaysassociation/docs/eba_update_autumn_2017_final_issuu

https://issuu.com/essexbridlewaysassociation/docs/eba_spring_update_2018_issuu_amende

For the Evidence of Use Form which is required by Essex County Council follow this link to download the document:

/generaldocuments/Evidence of Use Form-3.docx

Successes:

2016 Essex Bridleways Association - Petition and Survey  - Over 2,600 riders sign EBA Petition

On 8th June 2016, Essex Bridleways Association presented a petition to Essex County Council requesting increased access to safe off-road routes for horse riders. The petition contained 2,644 signatures and was received by Councillor Eddie Johnson, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport.

As a result of our efforts, EBA achieved news coverage in a number of publications, including a substantial piece in Essex Chronicle. EBA Chair, Julia Wilson was also interviewed live on the Dave Monk drive-time show on BBC Essex Radio.

In a written response to the letter accompanying the petition, Cllr Johnson highlighted a number of actions designed to improve the safety issues affecting equestrians riding on the county’s road. These included support for the British Horse Society’s ‘Dead Slow’ Campaign – information which was shared using social media, e-newsletter and the Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP) website: www.saferessexroads.org/road-users/horse-riders. However, the EBA Committee felt that the main point of the petition – i.e. the need for increased off-road access - has not been addressed. As we go to press, EBA has replied and awaits further correspondence.

EBA 2016 Survey

To support its campaign work, EBA conducted an online survey with the aim of gaining a snapshot of Essex riders and their thoughts on riding in the county.

  • 1046 riders completed the survey, made up of 36 male and 1010 (97%) female*.
  • 94% of riders were aged 17 or over. 46% were aged between 31 and 50 years of age, with 30% being 50+.
  • 91% ride more than once a week, with 64% of those riding every day or most days.
  • 84% ride for fun, with 48% of those also competing locally.
  • 52% said that they are in the saddle for over an hour – 10% of those ride for more than 2 hours.

Where we ride

  • 47% of people regularly ride on busy main roads.
  • 55% of all respondents classed off-road access in their area as poor or very poor; 26% thought it was Okay.
  • 95% of people said that improved off-road access would make them hack out more.
  • 1000 people selected specific answers to best reflect their feelings when riding on the roads. Of these: 37% don’t enjoy hacking because of the traffic, while 6% don’t hack out at all because they feel the roads are too dangerous. 50% avoid some roads because of the traffic. Others used the comments box to expand on their concerns.
  • 98% said they would like to see the Government do more to consider the needs of equestrians.

The equestrian industry

  • Respondents listed a total of 2231 horses (with 10% of respondents sharing or loaning equines).
  • Of those that specified, 739 people keep their horses at livery/friend’s property; 20 keep horses at their own equestrian business; and 282 on their own private property***.
  • 31 people classed themselves as professionals/competitor/business**, accounting for 111 horses (plus 1 Mounted Police).

*Sport England’s research revealed that far fewer women than men participate in sport regularly: the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, was designed to address this gender imbalance. Horse riding meanwhile, is enjoyed largely by females of all ages.

** Equestrian ownership and activity makes a significant contribution to our regional and national economy. The British Horse Society supplied us with the following figures:

27 BHS Approved Centres in Essex

2,241 BHS members in Essex (as of Dec 2015)

*** There is a common misconception that horse owners are wealthy landowners. A large number of riders support the local economy by paying for livery.

What you said:

People that completed our survey were given the opportunity to make further comment. Many feel that Essex roads are getting busier, with faster traffic and increasingly intolerant or aggressive motorists.

The disjointed bridleways network is a problem, with bridleways that lead nowhere or end on busy roads. Others expressed concern that fly tippers and off-road vehicles make PRoW impassable.

This is just a small selection of comments…

“I have completely lost my nerve to ride on the road. Even the small lanes are lethal. Cars drive so fast, have no idea you are around the corner. Please give us more off road riding.”

“Riding in the manège gets quite boring very quickly, I really wish we had some bridleways near us.”

“Horse riding and access to safe bridleways/multi user routes should be integrated in to all sports/outdoor and leisure strategic planning at a national and local level.”

“Leisure maps show "recreational routes" & these are increasing. Surely, riding is a form of recreation & yet these routes are not suitable for either horses or cycling. I consider both of these as recreation. Is it that we need more routes or better use of routes which are already available?”

“With the ever increasing house building in our area our previously quiet country roads are now like racetracks and so dangerous that we soon won't be able to ride out at all. It's very sad.”

“Thinking of giving up as roads are too bad.”

“My children hack but & I worry constantly as drivers drive to fast and don't slow down on the country lanes esp. bends!”

“Nearly every time we ride drivers are aggressive and pass to close and too fast. We always thank careful drivers but over the last couple of years we have noticed that more and more drivers actually want confrontation. One woman screamed at me that she would like to rip my horse’s head off and watch it die. I have ridden out for over 40 years but it is so dangerous now I am thinking of giving up.”

“Have recently sent my horse to my niece in Suffolk as impossible to ride in this area without stress.”

 “Drivers hate seeing horses on the roads, residents complain we are causing an obstruction or heaven forbid droppings, yet there are literally NO safe routes to hack on! There is one short bridleway (approx 1 minute ride in length) which leads nowhere; other than that it is road riding. It really is pretty dire. Make it a safer environment for all involved - add in decent bridleways! There are enough footpaths.”

 “Would love to see a continuous link of bridleways around Essex to allow you to roam our wonderful countryside and to enable young horses to learn to hack out without fear of collision or fretting with the occasional ignorant driver on the road - this should be a pleasurable hobby for both horse and rider as well as much needed exercise for both.”

EBA is extremely grateful to those that expressed their thanks in the comments box; it was also good to see that so many people are members of EBA and/or the BHS and other access groups. However, over 33% of people were not a member of any RoW group. Completing our survey and signing our petition are fantastic first steps but we would urge all Essex horse riders to be more proactive.

If we are to make ground in the fight for Better Bridleways for Essex, we all need to join together in order to help ourselves.  EBA is a registered charity, run by a small team of volunteers and, while we do liaise with the authorities and fight the cause for riders in Essex, we also ask that you help us by joining and becoming actively involved wherever possible.