The British Horse Society is calling for more rights of way to be opened up in the countryside. The equestrian industry is losing over £100m a month and much of this is directly attributable to the closure of our rights of way.

While some local authorities are responding to the government's call to open up the countryside, there are still too many who have not opened rights of way that carry no risk and in some cases are in purely arable land. The BHS urges local authorities to give priority to opening up the few rights of way that are open to horses. A great many people depend for their livelihood on these paths being open, not just for recreation.

BHS Chief Executive Kay Driver said "Trekking centres and other tourism based riding establishments around the country have had no income since February and are in real danger of going under. It is important that the bridleway network is opened up soon, if the equestrian tourism industry of this country is to survive."

"Horse riders have shown themselves to be highly responsible during this crisis, winning praise from farmers' organisations, and no doubt they will continue to be vigilant. The BHS would like to encourage farmers and landowners everywhere to now support the equestrian industry. The time has come for sensible risk assessments to be done so that paths can be opened. We are all keeping to MAFF guidelines."

The present foot and mouth crisis has shown just how important the rights of way network is to the rural economy.

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Updated: October 2005.