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The equestrian industry involves any company, activity, or business that works with horses, ponies and donkeys, whether for sport or for work. Equestrianism is extremely popular in this country: not only is it a healthy outdoor activity and hobby, but also a competitive sport in which anyone can participate and where men and women compete on equal footing.
In Great Britain, approximately £4 billion is spent on equestrian activities each year. There are roughly 720,000 people in the UK that own horses and horse racing is the second largest sport in Great Britain after football, with £3.4 billion being generated through horse racing in 2008 (Lantra). With horses and associated equestrian activities being so popular, it is no surprise that there are a large number of employment opportunities available in the sector.
The equine industry provides some type of employment (part-time, full-time or seasonal) to around 250,000 people and, for a largely recreational industry, this is quite an impressive amount. Britain has a good reputation amongst international equine businesses, with good exports and a leading equestrian sports record.
There are more than 19,000 businesses providing full-time employment around 28,500 people (The British Horse Industry Confederation). Other forms of part-time employment and volunteers make up the rest of the workforce. The different types of equestrian businesses range from those targeting recreational horse owners and enthusiasts, to those for commercial racehorse owners, riding schools and working horses. Some equestrian professions will deal with all types of horses and owners, whilst others may specialise in one particular area.
Typical equestrian businesses and professions include:
Working in the equestrian sector requires relevant horse care skills and good general management skills. Equestrian businesses are looking for increasingly skilled individuals with the relevant horse care abilities - practical and organisational - so that horses can be provided with the best care possible. At present there are calls for all livery yards and equine businesses to be registered, so that there are legal requirements in place to improve and commit to the welfare of horses.
Generally, equine employers will look for experience in horse care and management over formal higher-education qualifications, but there is a call for a more appropriately qualified and skilled workforce. There are a number of industry-approved and recommended courses, available at equine colleges or specialist institutions that endeavour to boost the skills of the equestrian workforce.