Sport England today announced a £493 million four-year investment to deliver grassroots sporting opportunities and a lasting Olympic and Paralympic legacy. Of 46 sports receiving investment equestrianism secured an award of £6 million for the four year cycle 2013-2017; an increase of 46% from the previous Olympiad.
As the NGB for equestrian sport, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) is responsible for channelling this funding into the sport. It seeks to harness the excitement generated by the Olympics and Paralympics and meet the objectives outlined in its Whole Sport Plan submission - namely to deliver increased participation, to sustain a quality offering for current riders, drivers and vaulters and to further develop talent pathways within the sport.
Chief Executive of the BEF Andrew Finding commented:
"This funding announcement is very positive news; we have had a wonderful year and we are determined to make the legacy thrive. We welcome the confidence that the team at Sport England has shown in us as we work to increase the levels of participation in equestrian sport and recreation. In partnership with our member bodies and the broader equestrian community we are committed to making a difference."
"We want to see more people riding in the countryside, on bridle paths, in urban areas, riding schools, clubs, colleges and livery yards. In doing so we will pay particular attention to young people between the ages of 14-25 as well as those with disabilities and those with a prodigious talent."
"We have, with the help of Sport England, set out broad aims to achieve these goals and will be adding flesh to these bones now that funding levels for these projects have been agreed."
These delivery mechanisms include development of the Hoof equestrian legacy programme and website www.hoofride.co.uk, the Hoof business to business Networks and the Take Back The Reins product established in early 2012. A number of new initiatives aimed at retention and growth of key customers are also planned, working closely with the BEF's 15 full and three associate member bodies, and via coaching, volunteering, equine development, club and riding school systems.
The Federation will also continue to improve its talent development programme, with a clearer focus on the talented young riders and more co-ordination with member body programmes. The England Excel Talent Programme aims to produce a pool of up and coming talented riders across the England Regions who are not currently on the BEF's World Class Programme. The Programme was set up through funding from Sport England and is being developed by the BEF, in partnership with the three Olympic and one Paralympic disciplines of eventing, dressage, showjumping and para-equestrian dressage, to ensure future generations of excellence.
The BEF has worked with the UK Coaching Certificate framework to increase the number and quality of coaches in equestrian sport, while at the same time developing volunteers. This programme has been rolled out across many of the federation member bodies.
Increasing the disability offering of equestrian sport is a major focus of the next Olympiad. There continues to be an upwards trend in once a week participation among people with a long term limiting disability, illness or infirmity, this group now representing 12% of all 'once a week' horse riders. By investing in facilities through Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) the BEF hopes to accommodate the large number of disabled people currently on waiting lists into the sport.
The BEF has also been awarded the license to accredit Clubmark clubs in the equestrian industry, the Sport England mark of high quality clubs, reassuring both parents and participants that the club is a high quality, welcoming environment for young people. The British Horse Society has been instrumental in leading this scheme, supporting a number of their approved centres to progress towards gaining the accreditation. The BEF will now continue to roll out this scheme across all relevant member bodies to allow a variety of clubs to gain the mark.
Sport England's Chief Executive, Jennie Price, said: "This investment represents Years 5 to 8 of our long term plan to get more people playing sport. We've learned a lot over the last four years and with a record 15.5 million people already playing sport once a week, we are on track to deliver. We have worked very hard, with the governing bodies of sport, to make these decisions, and I believe they are right."
With the new funding secured these successful programmes will be able to continue and the British Equestrian Federation will be able to look at new ideas to contribute to the Sport England plan to increase participation, retain participants and help those participants to excel.
The funding level announcement from UK Sport that supports equestrian's World Class Programmes via National Lottery funding will be announced tomorrow, 18 December.