Few will forget the iconic images beamed around the world from Greenwich Park this summer – from Nick Skelton securing our first Olympic Gold medal in showjumping since 1952 to dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin covering her mouth in disbelief at the end of her gold medal-winning freestyle test.
The backdrop, brilliance and backstage stories associated with Greenwich Park and our athletes meant that media coverage of the equestrian sports in the build-up, during and post the Olympic and Paralympic Games was as extensive and far-reaching as anyone could have wished for. There is little doubt that this venue will have provided the images from London 2012 that people will remember in 20 years’ time.
Figures recently released by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) show the extraordinary value of the equestrian coverage achieved during 2012, which has exceeded £30 million of written media coverage. Coverage appeared in all publications across a wide range of markets – from daily and regional newspapers to celebrity news and women’s fashion magazines - clearly demonstrating that equestrianism now has a strong profile in the public domain.
Holding a memorable and successful event at Greenwich Park has brought the powerful legacy of a stronger place for equestrian sport both within the Olympic and Paralympic Games 'family' and in the minds of the general public. Capitalising on this with more substantial participation and general interest in equestrian sport is work underway and needs consistent development and exposure and is the next vital step.
It is now up to the BEF’s Legacy brand ‘Hoof’ to channel those who have been inspired to get on a horse or return to riding.
The BEF was one of the first National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport to launch its Legacy plan, and it has been empowering the equestrian industry to get behind the ‘Hoof’ brand, so that it can capitalise on the largest shop window the sport has ever seen.
Working with local riding schools across the country has been a priority. One of the most important initiatives the BEF has launched is its ‘Take Back the Reins’ (TBTR) programme, a stepping stone for lapsed or new riders to get in the saddle – no matter what age or experience. The programme is set up to allow likeminded people to start riding in a social and fun environment.
Andrew Finding, Chief Executive of the BEF, commented: “London 2012 was an extraordinary experience for us all. Our first legacy objective was achieved through the coverage of our athletes at our remarkable venue Greenwich Park, equestrian sport was given the highest possible profile. Before the Games we launched www.hoofride.co.uk to help demystify our sport to the new community the Games inspired and to direct the interests of anyone who wanted to start or return to equestrianism. Our true legacy will be secured in continuing to profile our sport, in increasing the numbers involved, in the raising of standards and in continued successes in all areas. To achieve this we need everyone to help the positive upward drive.”
For more information on Hoof and Take Back the Reins visit www.hoofride.co.uk