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Riding Safely

Defra/British Horse Industry Confederation Conference

Westminster - 16 June 2004

On June 16, 2004, some 150 people from across the horse industry attended a national conference at Westminster, convened by Defra and the British Horse Industry Confederation to promote collaborative working in the industry. Riding Safely was there!

The conference followed the publication "a report of research on the horse industry in Great Britain" undertaken by the Henley Centre in March 2004. In the summary to that report Alun Michael MP (Minister of State for Rural Affairs and Local Environment Quality and Minister for the Horse) gave a stark warning "I would echo what one of your own number is quoted in this leaflet saying about the fragmentation of the industry. Given their common interest in the horse, I have been surprised by the energy sapping divisions within the horse industry. As somebody ruefully put it to me recently, the decline in the horse population over the past 100 years has been matched by a burgeoning in the number of horse organisations. Whereas specialist discipline organisations undoubtedly serve a useful purpose, divisions rooted in protecting one's patch can only limit the effectiveness of what should be one of the most powerful forces for good in rural England. So those who care about the horse in British society must work together -- or together choose to be ineffective. It's your choice".

The conference debated ideas for the future growth of the industry in England which will feed into the first 10-year strategy for the horse industry to be published a consultation in the autumn.

The conference focused on debating six strategic issues identified by the Henley Centre report:

  • Enhancing the image of the Horse industry
  • Improving economic performance of equine businesses
  • Encouraging sporting excellence
  • Improving quality of British bred horses
  • Improving skills/training/standards
  • Improving Riding access and off-road riding

Some common threads ran through the discussions "better communication", "common standards across the industry", but there was a positive sense of collaboration with little dissent from those attending. "Litigation", "insurance" and "health & safety" were all topics raised during the discussions -- and so they should be!

"Can we get the VAT removed on equestrian safety equipment?" was a question raised during the debate.  Apparently there is no VAT on cycle or motorcycle helmets -- So why the VAT on equestrian safety equipment?  This is an area where Goverment through the Treasury could certainly help.  

Riding Safely believes that there should be a industry led strategic approach in delivering risk management across all sectors of the industry, which can only improve the image and boost economic performance by reducing accidents, the possibility of successful litigation and potentially increased insurance premiums.

If the industry continues to work together through a strategic body, let's see if we can deliver a successful industry wide risk management programme.

Watch this space.......

See also the Horse & Hound report>>>>>>

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