According to industry figures there are 3,100,000 former riders who would like to get back in the saddle. So where are they and why aren’t they coming to you?

Here are some more facts quoted by the British Horse Society from surveys by Horse (2017) and BETA (2019):

The equine industry contributes £4.7bn per year to the economy

1 in 3 people in Britain have an interest in equestrianism

There are 1.8m regular riders, not forgetting the 3.1m referred to above!

Riding for leisure is the key reason for riding horses

The equine industry is the second largest rural employer

Despite the headlines above a lot of livery yards and riding schools seem to be struggling. (I will call them riding centres from now on). As a riding centre owner, every day people come to me looking to ride and say their local riding centres are closing and they’re not sure where to go. Owners of riding centres I have spoken with say the competition is fierce and they can’t attract customers as they used to. So, if local riding centres are closing, but riding centres themselves are seeing too much competition, how does this add up?

There are many reasons riding businesses struggle and it’s easy to blame the obvious ones or suits you best. Maybe it’s increasing insurance, business or tax cost, maybe it’s the economy, maybe it’s Brexit! However, I find it’s never the fault of the riding centre, of course.

But regardless of the cause, do any of these questions sound familiar:

Are you finding running a business difficult?
Are you caught up in the ‘busy-trap’ and working all hours available?
Are you making little money despite all your hard work and skill?
Are you a slave to your once amazing lifestyle business?
Are you living the dream or caught up in a daily nightmare?

Let me tell you from my experience that there is no need for this. The demand is there, the economy is doing OK (albeit some regions better than others), costs are increasing but they always will, and it’s certainly not Brexit!

So, if you feel like you are banging your head on wall and getting nowhere whilst other centres seem to be doing well – or maybe you are doing OK but want to do better, read on…

Here are 5 simple ways to reassess your business and start to turn your centre round and compete with the best:

  1. Research your market. Be thorough and understand what has changed since you started.
  2. Revisit the reasons for doing what you do. Do you prefer the horses to doing business? What do you want from your centre? Where do you want it to go? Have you still got the energy?
  3. Look at your business plan, accounts and cash flow (if you have them) and find out precisely where you are losing money or customers or both.
  4. Take a deep look at your facilities and your customer service policy.
  5. Then you can decide where you need to cut costs, increase prices, improve service and even introduce new products and services that suit your market.

This may sound simplistic, but as an approach it’s a great place to start to turn your life and business round.

My intention is to publish a series of blogs and articles outlining these and other key strategies for building a really successful riding centre. Why would I do this? Because over the last seven years, my wife Jo and I have built up what we think is a very successful enterprise that we are proud of.  We made our own mistakes and learnt a lot on the way.

But when we started there was no help anywhere, from anyone in the riding centre market. A few marketing people but no real insider business knowledge specifically for riding establishments. Well now there is. Stay tuned or visit our website at