The significance of the horse has declined over the past decades among the German population. Whereas in 2009 around 16 million people were still interested in riding, today it is 14 million; 4 mil-lion Germans ride, 1.34 million of whom ride frequently (AVA survey 2009 and 2019). Whereas the number of non-organised equestrian athletes is rising proportionally, the number of equestrian athletes that belong to the FN is on the decline. This is accompanied by less interest in classic equestrian sport disciplines and a decline in interest in the active and passive competition sport.
Overall social developments are also a reason for the shifts in the interests of the Germans. Just a few of the mega trends which affect the equestrian industry are cited below: The urbanisation, which increasingly leads to people living further away from horses, the digitaliation, which is leading to a total change in communication behaviour and new living patterns or the mega trend ecology that is linked with an increased awareness for animal welfare.
Furthermore, the players in the equestrian industry have in the past missed the boat regardless of what form it took on when it came down to opening up to interested parties and creating points of contact with the horse and thus carrying the enthusiasm for handling horses into the society.
80 percent of Germans think that horses are beautiful animals.
Even though the horse has a special fascination for people, regardless of how far away it is. For example, various surveys show that around 80 percent of the German population find that horses are beautiful animals and that they have a positive influence on people. Among 4 and 5-year-old children, the horse even comes under the top 5 of all interesting themes (behind animals in gene-ral, fairy-tales and mythical creatures, farms) (Children Media Survey 2019).
If one extrapolates the results from a representative survey carried out in Saxony (Saxon Survey 2019) to the entire German population, two thirds of the population could imagine making use of an offer related to horses for themselves or their family: Carriage rides, therapeutic riding, riding vacations for children, riding as a health-promoting sport or day trips with the horse are extremely popular here.
What implications does this now have for the players of the German equestrian industry - from the horse breeder to the provider of safety products?
The already frequently thematised change within the group of equestrian athletes and horse ow-ners will also be ongoing over the next decade and is expected to accelerate further. The horse-related industry is however not necessarily destined for downturn due to the declining demand within Germany. If the players from the equestrian industry want to develop the described poten-tial - indeed for the well-being of the society, for the well-being of the horse and for the good of the equestrian industry - they have to jointly invest in the creation and development of infrastruc-ture (i.e. establishments and mobility) as well as in training and knowledge transfer between trai-ners and end customers - especially also regarding animal welfare aspects. Offers (also easily con-sumable ones) have to be made accessible to new target groups and the breeders have to focus on suitable breeds and breeding targets for the more recent fields of application.