For release 2 April 2020

Horse owners are cutting back on both what they do with their horses and how much they spend in response to the coronavirus emergency. Their current concerns centre on the welfare of their horse should they be un-well or their horse require emergency treatment.

Horse owners across the UK are cutting back on activities with their horse, particularly those that put them at greatest risk of injury or illness. 74% have stopped jumping and fast riding activity at home. Hacking out has also been curtailed with 60% stopping completely and a further 26% saying they are hacking out less than they normally would.

As a result of less riding and, in some cases, more time availability horse owners are spending more time on other activities including in-hand work (32%) and spending ‘quality time’ with their horses; grooming, massage, stretching etc. (31%).

For the equestrian trade sector the news is not good, as most horse owners are cutting back on spending. The main areas affected so far are those connected with equestrian shows and events, which have stopped along with all public gatherings. 65% of horse owners have stopped spending on competition clothing and a further 22% are spending less. Tack and harness spending is also being hit with 34% of horse owners stopping altogether and 20% cutting back. 60% of horse owners have some concern over being able to afford to keep their horses, reflecting the overall economic challenges resulting from the coronavirus emergency.

With 45% of horse owners in the survey keeping their horse in livery, actions taken by livery yard bosses are important. Most are observing to social distancing rules, 51% are restricting the number of people coming to the yard. Others are introducing further restrictions around the time owners visit and how long the stay at the yard. 85% of owners are happy with the livery yard actions and 15% believe their livery yard could do more.

61% of horse owners are concerned about their horse’s welfare if they are ill or injured, though 87% do have a clear care plan in place (62% have shared this plan with the people that would be called on to help). Other main concerns for horse owners are around accessing veterinary treatment (56%), feed supplies (53%) and vaccinations (47%).

The importance of equestrian organisations is evident with 73% of horse owners using them as a source of information, compared to 43% using government sources.

Helen Roberts, Director XV Insight said “This research shows that horse owners are taking the situation seriously and are balancing the welfare needs of their horses with the need to stay home and stay safe.

Sadly the feedback on spend highlights the challenge facing the equestrian trade as 2020 revenues are clearly going to be badly affected.

The increase in time spent ‘on the ground’ with horses, combined with the increase in online and social media activity, perhaps provides an opportunity for horse health and wellbeing practitioners to provide more online advice and support to horse owners. For example, my vet has been running some great Facebook-live sessions and has increased the volume of informative social media posts. Our local equine physiotherapist is also sharing lots of instructional videos of horse exercises to help keep horses supple and mentally engaged”

About the research

The research is being conducted via an online survey promoted to horse owners through social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram)

Further details can be found at https://xvinsight.com/coronavirus-horse-owner-survey/

The survey will run for the duration of the coronavirus emergency and beyond. Additional modules within the survey will allow us to explore equestrian trade in more detail and the experiences of those employed in the sector. The survey will be adapted to reflect ongoing changes in Government instruction or legislation.

This first report covers experiences in the first week of the government Stay Home instruction (23rd – 30th March 2020). Fieldwork was carried out Fieldwork 28th – 30th March 2020. A more detailed report is available on request from info@xvinsight.com.

Weekly updates will be provided enabling both the tracking of changes in attitudes and behaviours over time and more detailed analysis through the increased volume of responses

About XV Insight

XV Insight is a Warwickshire-based market research agency founded in 2017. https://xvinsight.com/. The company is led by Helen Roberts a market research professional with 30 years of experience in the sector. XV Insight works with clients across sectors including travel & tourism, sport & leisure, retail and healthcare. Clients include both private and public sector organisations.