The significance of the horse has declined over the past decades among the German population in general. Whereas in 2009 around 16 million people were still interested in riding, today it is 14 mil-lion; 4 million 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 explain shifts of interests amongst the German population. 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 digitalization, 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.
The players in the equestrian industry have sometimes missed the boat in order to attract new interest groups. First impressions of the beauty of the horse and the sport are nurturing interest and enthusiasm in society.
80 percent of Germans think that horses are beautiful animals.
Horses fascinate people from near and far. 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 is under the top 5 of all interesting themes (behind animals in general, 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 own-ers will is expected to accelerate further. However, the horse-related industry is not necessarily destined for downturn. In order to develop potentials - indeed for the well-being of the society, for the well-being of the horse and for the good of the equestrian industry - stakeholders have to jointly invest in the creation and development of infrastructure (i.e. establishments and mobility) as well as in training and knowledge transfer between trainers and end customers - especially in terms of animal welfare. Supply has to be made accessible to new target groups. Horse breeders are focusing on suitable breeds in order to produce horses which can be successfully marketed.