Research commissioned by Great British Racing to support the launch of National Racehorse Week has revealed a disconnect with animals and the countryside among the UK’s city dwellers, including the startling finding that 27% of 12-40 year olds has never seen, or can’t remember seeing, a horse in real life. 18-24 year olds are the least likely age group to have seen a horse ‘in person’, with 44% having never had an equine encounter.
Coming into close contact with a horse is also something that many of those surveyed have never experienced. 36% could not recall ever being physically close to a horse (within two metres) and over a third (34%) have never touched one. Almost one in three (30%) of 12-17 year olds surveyed have gone through life without ever coming into physical contact with a horse.
This may be explained by the fact that people in cities aren’t venturing into the countryside frequently. Almost half (46%) of people surveyed had not visited the countryside in the last year, while almost one in ten (9%) have either never visited, or can’t remember ever visiting, despite 59% saying they would like to visit more often.
There is clearly an appetite among people to remedy the situation: 48% of those surveyed said they would like to have contact with animals more regularly (rising to 55% of 12-17 year olds) and 41% of those who haven’t seen, or can’t remember seeing, horses in person would like the opportunity to change this.
If people living in cities can spend more time with our four-legged friends, it is likely to have a positive impact on their wellbeing, with 84% saying they feel happy when they do get a chance to be close to animals.
The research was commissioned by Great British Racing to support the launch of National Racehorse Week, a nationwide annual celebration of the racehorse and a chance to see first-hand the love, care and attention that goes into looking after them.
Commenting on the research findings, Gabi Whitfield, Acting Head of Welfare Communications at Great British Racing said:
“Spending time in the countryside and coming into contact with animals is excellent for our well-being and is something we want to encourage everyone to do more of. With over a quarter of people aged 12 to 40 living in cities never having seen, or not remember seeing a horse in person, National Racehorse Week is the perfect opportunity to put that right, and to experience first-hand the outstanding level of care these beautiful animals receive.”
From 10-18 September 2022, in an experience like no other, over 150 events across the country, including training yards, studs and retraining centres, will open their doors to the public to show what life as a racehorse is really like. Places are free and you can book your tickets to attend at nationalracehorseweek.uk.
TV personality Chris Hughes, who is a racehorse owner and ambassador for National Racehorse Week said:
“The impact of getting up close to a horse cannot be underestimated. And racing has created a unique opportunity through National Racehorse Week to help people meet these incredible animals, experience the life of a thoroughbred and talk to the dedicated teams who care for them 365 days a year. There is nothing quite like this in any other sport. More than 11,000 places will be available to book free of charge at locations up and down the country with everyone welcome to join.”
This year’s event will be bookended by the Open Days taking place at major racing centres including Epsom (Surrey) and Malton (Yorkshire) on 11 September and The Henry Cecil Open Weekend in Newmarket (Suffolk) on 17-18 September, with trainers across the country, together with studs and aftercare centres, opening their doors to the public throughout the week.
To further support the launch of National Racehorse Week, residents at Cliffe Vale Residential Home, as well as pupils at Ilkley Grammar School, both in West Yorkshire, yesterday received a special visit from Sigurd, a racehorse currently in training, together with his trainer Joanne Foster. Residents and pupils were able to interact with the horse and gain valuable insight from Joanne about caring for a racehorse. Joanne said:
“Sigurd is an incredible horse – he competes on the racecourse, but also regularly visits schools and residential homes, which has become second nature to him. I’ve never known a horse so able to relax and genuinely relate to people, from children with special needs, to older people in wheelchairs.
“For me, National Racehorse Week is about how we, as trainers, can help people and give back to the community. These wonderful horses offer us so much more than winning races: they put smiles on people’s faces and can genuinely help people who are feeling sad, lonely, or isolated. It’s also an opportunity for people to come and see how we, in turn, look after our racehorses.”
National Racehorse Week has been funded by the Racing Foundation, with additional support from the Horserace Betting Levy Board.
To find out more and to claim your free tickets, visit nationalracehorseweek.uk