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Diversifying into Equestrian Sport: All You Need to Know

Your land offers a variety of opportunities for greater profits. Could diversifying into equestrian sport be your chosen path?

Equestrian sport refers to anything that involves the art of riding horses, for recreational or sporting purposes. Current date (see more here) emphasises that around 1.3 million Brits ride regularly, but many more have expressed an interest in either returning to, or starting, riding!

With such a glaring interest in horses and riding across the UK, why not embrace this demographic? Perhaps, with a greater array of equestrian facilities across the country, who knows - the people who have always been interested in equestrian sport may choose to start riding too.

Could diversifying your land be the next move towards a greater appreciation for equestrian sport? Get your FREE ticket to the Farm Business Innovation Show to get more information on diversifying to new ventures. In the meantime, discover more by reading on...

Getting your kid on a horse could help them to learn valuable life skills

Types of Equestrian Events

There are numerous types of horse events that should be considered when it comes to diversifying into this lucrative business. The main sports include:

  • Dressage: riders and their horses perform a series of choreographed movements, showcasing the horse in all its glory.
  • Racing: whether it be cross-country, or endurance riding, racing is a popular sporting event.
  • Show Jumping: this is the type of riding you’ll probably be most used to seeing, and it simply requires a rider to steer their horse around a course with an array of jumps.
  • Driving: when a driver on a horse-drawn carriage performs and races.

Equestrian Olympics will often combine a variety of these individual sports, forming a sort of horse sports games. Competing against one another in these events can be tough but, by providing the facilities to learn and practice, more people may choose to take these sports up.

Do I Need Planning Permission When Diversifying Into Equestrian Sport?

The lines can be a little crossed when it comes to seeking planning permission for owning horses. This is because, if the horses simply graze, you may not necessarily need it. In general, horses required for agricultural use do not tend to require planning.

That said, diversifying into equestrian sport will require planning permission. But how can you figure out if planning permission is necessary? Let’s take a look…

Putting your horse in a stable could require planning permission, depending on the building situation and the breed of the horse


Horse riding requires not just a place for your horses to live, but fixings for riding and show jumping that you may not otherwise have installed. As a general rule, for the construction of a new building, whether it be a stable block, training ring, cross-country course, or indoor arena, planning permission is essential.

That said, this may be a little different if you’re simply converting an old barn into stables. In this regard, it’s always important to check before you simply start building.


It doesn’t just depend on the building, but the breed of horse too. Many landowners can fall into this trap, thinking that, as they don’t need to build anything new, they won’t need permission. In reality, simply altering the use of your agricultural land to become a training ground for horse riding makes planning permission necessary.

This is because the horses are not being used for an agricultural purpose. As a rule of thumb, if you’re housing race horses or commercial horses in your stables, these horses cannot be described as livestock and, therefore, require planning permission.

Visual Appeal

In many cases, planning comes down to the visual appeal of a new fixture. If a new building will alter or obscure the view of the surrounding neighbours, planning permission is necessary.

The general idea is that the government wants to reduce the chance of anything impacting the open countryside with ‘untidy’ activities. This will depend on the types of horses you are planning on purchasing, but also the equipment placement.

The Area

If your land is regarded as residing on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or a National Park, planning permission will definitely be required. Even outside of these areas, an exposed site could also cause issues, especially if you’re looking to build a floodlit outdoor riding school.

What’s more, if the area you’re choosing to build on has a high ecological value for biodiversity, this may cause planning problems. If the site contains unmanaged grass, trees, or scrub, which could provide a viable habitat for wildlife, land clearance may be ill-advised.


Finally, planning permission could also come down to whether your new equestrian business venture will increase vehicle traffic in your area. If so, traffic generation will have to be considered before you can make the transition towards the equine world.

Show jumping is one of the sports that horses can be involved in

Don’t be a “Foal”, Choose Equestrian Sport!

It may seem like a lot to take in but take our word for it - equestrian sports are a great investment! Our general consensus is, if in doubt, seek help, which is exactly why we’re here...

At our Farm Business Innovation Show, on 6th & 7th November at the NEC, Birmingham, you’ll get the chance to meet the people who could help you take the route to diversification. Specifically, The Equestrian Index will be exhibiting at stand FR870 - ask them all your burning industry questions to see if equestrian sport is the best choice for your land.

By getting your FREE ticket to the show, you’ll have access to this, and so much more! Get inspired by others, unveiling the opportunities your land holds, today.

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