This bonny autumn is a hive of activity for BHS Scotland where we are very proud to see that our Scottish membership is reaching the 7.5k mark – which makes us by far and away the largest equestrian membership organisation in Scotland.

With such power comes huge responsibility to work in partnership as much as possible. We are equally excited to have taken receipt of some research commissioned over the summer as part of a Masters Management Project at Robert Gordon’s University where the findings have confirmed our conviction that the equestrian industry in Scotland is a rural and urban driver on a par with industries such as forestry, farming and tourism.

So what have we found out? That equines contribute a total of £326m to the Scottish economy annually, that 24,316 households own a horse, and that there is an estimated 83,848 horses in Scotland. The areas with the largest amounts of horses are Aberdeenshire, Lothian, Tayside and Ayrshire and that 20% of our equines live in urban areas.

It is important that we look after them all – wherever they live – so we were equally proud that the first in a series of equine healthcare and education clinics to be held in Scotland has been hailed a huge success, with over 22 equine having attended.

The clinic, run by The British Horse Society (BHS) in association with British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) was hosted at Bowhouse Equestrian Livery, Kinglassie at the end of September. A total of 22 horses and ponies were treated and offered services such as castration, worming, passporting, dental checks and microchipping.

The clinics are designed to help alleviate the equine overpopulation crisis currently occurring throughout the UK. The introduction of healthcare and education clinics in Scotland is an important advancement in Scottish equine welfare.

We have noticed a trend in displacement across the Scottish border due the recent Control of Horses Act 2015 in England and Wales and the relatively cheap and widely available land in Scotland, therefore the demand for these clinics is increasing.

Days like this offer vital healthcare to those horses in need of it most and helps ensure they have a more secure future. The clinics provide a positive environment where we are able to provide advice, support and education to a large numbers of owners.

The clinic was run with support from the SSPCA, Bransby, World Horse Welfare and The Donkey Sanctuary. BEVA members provided all the veterinary expertise needed for the day and Zoetis provided all the wormers – 18 horses were castrated, 16 passported and micro chipped, and all 22 horses were given a full dental check. The British Horse Society has been provided health care clinics in England for the last three years, 948 horses have now attended the clinics and 453 have been castrated.

So its heads down to our dreaded access conference….. it is dreaded because of all our fields of interest in Scotland access to the countryside is the most complex and emotional aspect of our work.

The legislation is complex and relatively new so a lot of people are still not aware of their rights and responsibilities under the Land Reform (Scotland) 2003 Act. It is emotional because the effect of being locked out or kicked off of your precious off road riding is devastating; it is frustrating when riders don’t do themselves any favours either.

The BHS sits in the middle of this maelstrom stirring everything with a spoon and trying to educate. They say in life you get out of a thing what you put into it so Wednesday, October 31, should be a red letter day for the BHS in Scotland.

The conference is all about the expectations and reality of equestrian access in Scotland – I hope we see you there!