THE British Horse Society’s recent postcard campaign has made the Forestry Commission (FC) aware of riders’ views on forestry access in England.

Now the BHS is calling on all equestrians to lobby their MP to support the forestry campaign, and fight for better access for riders and carriage drivers to their forests across England.

The Forestry Commission public forest estate in England extends to about 258,000 hectares of land. This could provide miles of safe off-road riding which is badly needed for all sections of the equestrian community.

While many forests in England allow equestrians free informal access, an increasing number discriminate against equestrians, requiring them to purchase a permit, whilst walkers and cyclists are allowed free access.

Many equestrians cannot afford to pay a permit fee, as 25 per cent of horse owners earn less than £10,000 per annum, so paying for access particularly discriminates against lower socioeconomic groups, the BHS claims.

It says this discrimination is increasingly pushing riders into riding on the roads, which is inherently less safe, and less enjoyable, than off-road riding.

In England horse riders currently have access to only 22 per cent of the public rights of way network, whilst carriage drivers have access to only five per cent.

The British Horse Society wants to end this discrimination, and wants the Forestry Commission to “sit up and listen”

and to treat equestrians the same as it does walkers and cyclists.

BHS director of access, safety and welfare, Mark Weston, said: “We now need MPs to require the Forestry Commission to end their unfair discrimination against equestrians.”

Postcards to send to MPs are available from the BHS access department or a letter can be downloaded at