Competitor Survey 2022

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Wed, 17 May 2023 15:57 GMT

Towards the end of 2022, we invited members to take part in the British Dressage competitor survey, to help us understand how we can improve and enhance the competition experience for members at all levels of the sport.  The independent survey followed on from member forums held in May and June last year, where our research partners, JDA Research, conducted face to face group meetings with a range of current BD members.


We received 3,256 responses in total, from members who had actively competed with BD in the last four years, representing a 24% participation rate overall – a near identical figure to our last member survey in 2019.  The majority of those taking the time to provide feedback on our competition experience were Full members, representing 88.5% of the sample audience, with a smaller number of Club (10%) and Para (1.5%) respondents. This accurately reflects the makeup of our membership, with Full (competing) the most popular choice of BD membership for those wishing to get out and experience affiliated competition, training, and championship qualification.

The survey focused on gathering the responses of members across the following key areas:

  • Satisfaction with BD, our office staff, and regional teams
  • Motivations for joining BD and your experience as a member
  • Where, why, and how often you compete in affiliated dressage
  • Understanding your competition aims, goals and motivations
  • How you rate and rank venue facilities and customer service
  • Measuring attitudes towards BD competitions and organisation
  • How you access information and services, e.g., results and schedules
  • How you view member communications and digital content
  • What your reinvestment priorities would be for British Dressage

We were delighted with the response and results, which will help us to shape and form the future strategic direction for British Dressage.  Overall satisfaction for British Dressage was up from 7.1% in 2019 to 7.5%, while ratings for our BD head office team improved from 7.8% to 8.5%, which was really positive to see.  When rating the overall experience of competing or participating in the sport, those giving the highest scores of 8, 9 or 10 increased to 53%, compared to 43% in the 2019 survey.


Findings and action plan

Competition overview

The overall picture on competing with British Dressage shows that members are largely happy with the experience, whether in terms of venues, officials, or the competition structure.  Access to affiliated competition remains the most important motivation for joining BD, and it’s encouraging to see that many members are actively travelling to compete more than once a month, while aiming to qualify for the range of championships on offer.

Cost of Living challenges

Although BD continues to enjoy record membership levels currently, we continue to closely monitor the impact that the cost-of-living crisis is having on members ability to compete.  Only 50% of Club members now compete at least once a month, representing a 15% decrease from the 2019 survey, while Para has fallen from 61% to 55% over the same period.  These results show how inflationary pressures, escalating fuel prices and cost of competing are having an adverse effect on the frequency that members compete, although engagement in training activity at local level is up significantly on 2019 levels.

Focus on community

You clearly enjoy having the opportunity to socialise with other BD members, and meeting other riders is important to you.  We want to develop the range of training and education activities available to members, delivered both centrally and at regional level, and our Development Officers will be working with the Regional Committees to introduce new and innovative ways of providing social activities linked to the sport we all love.  As part of the reinvestment of our reserves we want to establish more of these community initiatives within the regions, as well as continuing popular annual events such as regional balls and celebration events.  Watch out for our 25th anniversary celebrations coming later this year!

Support for organisers

Good customer service at venues is also a key component in how often and where you take part in BD activity, and the survey provided valuable feedback for organisers. Our affiliated venues are important and valued partners, and we will continue to provide support to develop and enhance the competitor experience.  We have recently confirmed an extension of the starter levy subsidy until at least the end of 2023, and we have other projects in the pipeline, using Designated Funds to further invest in and support our venues and events, from grass roots to international level.

IT investment

Following the launch of BD Online in 2019, we’re delighted to see the impact that this service has had on your competition experience. You rated the online member portal and having direct access to your competition record as the second most important benefit in being a member of BD, as well as giving it a satisfaction rating of 4.5 out of 5. This is fantastic to see, as we have invested heavily in developing our IT systems and website in the last five years, and we are committed to continuing this technological evolution of our sport, from providing online training to live scoring and other digital initiatives.  Several projects are currently underway, aimed at enhancing the member experience even further.

Digitalisation and content

Smartphones are now an integral part of our daily lives, which you use to access all things related to BD media, from online schedules and results to our social media channels and website.  As part of our digitalisation strategy, we will be making various improvements to the BD website, to improve the navigation and provide easy access to the growing amount of content available.  We will also be looking at ways to integrate access to BD tests and score sheets online in digital form.  Your feedback on what you want to see will shape this future direction and help us to support your member journey.

It’s clear that there’s still a place for the highly valued BD Magazine, which again emerged as the most popular communications format for those taking the survey.  With the reintroduction of the fixture listings in 2022, we understand that the magazine is a vital tool for those competing and aiming for qualification.  While we’re keen to encourage Club and other members to make the most of our digital version available online, the printed publication will remain a key Full member benefit.

We were also encouraged by how many members are engaging with the various BD social media channels; those under the age of 44 specified Facebook and Instagram as key points of contact for sourcing information and reaching the digital community.  Social media is the ‘place to be’ for BD news, inspiring member stories and live event coverage both at home and overseas – so be sure to follow us on your preferred account as we continue to build and improve our social content.