British Equestrian takes major step towards a fully representative future

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Thu, 06 Apr 2023 09:18 GMT

British Equestrian (BEF) has today released a response to the comprehensive #HorsesForAll report, a research study into the lived experiences of underrepresented communities in equestrian activity.

Spotty horses head

Undertaken by AKD Solutions on the federation’s behalf, the report is the result of four months of research across interviews, forums, experience days and a nationwide survey with over 800 respondents which gave a huge amount of data and insight. The resulting 89-page document highlighted nine key themes and set out 11 recommendations for BEF to consider.

In consultation with member bodies, BEF has published a response document which addresses the recommendations with commitments which will be incorporated into an equality, diversity and inclusion strategy.


BEF Chair Malcolm Wharton commented; “This is an important day for British Equestrian and our member bodies as we strive to create a community that is truly representative of society and where all participants feel welcome, included and free from discrimination. It was a huge step to directly engage with those in the ethnically diverse and underserved communities and get their feedback, but a vital one – we are extremely grateful to AKD Solutions for making it happen. The insight gained from this research puts us in a much stronger position to effect meaningful, systemic change and provides a foundation from which to make plans to deliver results, which will have impact on generations to come.”

Jason Brautigam, Chief Executive of British Dressage said, “British Dressage is fully committed to ensuring that our sport is inclusive and accessible to all.  We have a lot to celebrate in this regard – men and women compete on an equal basis, with riders from eight to eighty taking part in dressage, while we also have a successful record in disability sport, and strong representation from the LGBTQ+ community.  However, we acknowledge that equestrianism is not as ethnically diverse as we would want it to be, while there are communities that are currently under-represented and under-served, particularly in less affluent urban areas.  There are many socio-economic factors that contribute to this, but we want to break down any barriers that exist to participation and ensure that our sport is welcoming to everyone.

This report identifies some of the areas where we need to focus our efforts, as well as recognising the strong foundations we can build on.  I was personally very heartened by the findings, as it reveals that there is a latent demand to take part in equestrian sport and highlights where there are opportunities to promote dressage to a wider audience.   We will work collectively with other member bodies across the Federation to address these inequalities and collaborate with groups that have already established excellent initiatives in this area.  We have set aside designated funds from our reserves specifically for outreach projects to bridge the gaps that currently exist, and the feedback in this report will help us to deliver meaningful, tangible, and long-lasting change.”

Research background

Following an extensive tender process, British Equestrian commissioned AKD Solutions in June last year to provide insight into the attitudes, perceptions and lived-experiences of Black, Asian, and other ethnically diverse and socio-economically underserved communities in the UK who may or may not be engaging in the equestrian landscape. The research investigated the respondents’ experience of equestrianism in their current involvement, their familiarity and acceptance, the barriers and facilitators to participation, and opportunities around competition and working.

Summary of findings

Taking into account the data, lived experiences and comments from the responses, AKD concluded that:

  • equestrian activity is socially, culturally and emotionally valuable
  • representation and visibility matter
  • meeting demand requires support
  • race and class experiences are common
  • fairness, equality and equity should be core values.


AKD Solutions has extensive experience in the sporting landscape on how to address an imbalance in representation and, as such, were asked to provide recommendations for BEF and member bodies to provide a focus for the development of a strategy on equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI). 

The following 11 recommendations were reviewed and revised by a body of EDI professionals and presented in the report:

  1. A universal commitment to anti-racist and anti-classist equestrian environments 
  2. Open door complaints and grievance practices 
  3. Clear merit-based progression 
  4. Build strong partnerships with alternative structures and diverse spaces 
  5. Invest in urban equestrian centres  
  6. Keeping records of diversity indicators 
  7. Creating regular industry check-ins which promote diversity 
  8. Plan generationally 
  9. Lead from the front on diversity and make the changes you want to see 
  10. Address financial, structural and social barriers to engagement 
  11. Improve experience and generate new advocates 

The BEF response

BEF took time to break down the report and take on board the data, comments and insight, in order to decide how best to use it as a catalyst to positively address the systemic inequalities highlighted. Working with our member bodies, we then worked through each of the recommendations to identify short, medium and long-term headline actions and made commitments towards embedding inclusive practices which are outlined in the response document.

Next steps

Organisationally, BEF has started work on a Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, which will drive internal change. Concurrently, a wider EDI strategy will be developed around culture, education and empowerment. We’ll also be working with our member bodies to support their own EDI aspirations as we all work to address the AKD recommendations. 

“AKD has presented us with an enormous opportunity with their extensive report and findings and we must now seize this chance fully to make a real difference,” declared Jim Eyre, BEF Chief Executive. 

“The report made for tough reading in places but overall, there were some very positive messages around the value, benefits and latent demand of equestrian. We can now turn these into meaningful change and use as part of our wider commitment around social impact across the equestrian industry. I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the research – their brave and honest contributions will not go unheard and also for the commitment of the team at AKD and across our member bodies. We face a long journey but it’s one we must take to ensure we remain relevant and we have a vibrant equestrian community free from discrimination,” he concluded. 


If you've been impacted by any of the content of the report, please feel free to contact British Equestrian on