Pembrokeshire Riding Survey Conducted 2005

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We recently came across this survey while researching our proposed long distance ride around Wales, we are not responsible for conducting it but have published it in order to highlight that the situation regarding safe off road riding and improved bridleways in Wales has not changed since 2005

It was hoped that the new all Wales coastal path would help to remedy this but to date only 7 miles out of a total 870 has been made available to horse riders, we have an online petition which will be presented to the Welsh Assembly Government when we have 10,000 signatures

Pembrokeshire Riding Survey

Introduction

The aim of the Pembrokeshire Riding Survey was to gather data from stables and liveries, and their customers, to help determine the level of demand for riding activities and to identify development needs. The survey was launched in December 2005 and the deadline for receipt of responses was 23rd March 2006.

The information gathered as a result of the survey will form the basis of a strategic development proposal. The proposal will detail development options, financial implications and funding possibilities. The proposal will form the basis for further consultation with representative bodies.

The Pembrokeshire Riding Survey comprised of two questionnaires. The first was targeted at stable and livery yard owners. Questions were aimed to establish business and customer profiles; owner views on the current state, and potential development, of infrastructure and suggestions for improvements in the marketing of riding facilities (See Appendix A). The second questionnaire was targeted at riders and aimed to establish demand for, and satisfaction with, current riding facilities, together with suggestions on how these might be improved (See Appendix B).

Distribution & Response

2050 Pembrokeshire Riding Surveys were distributed as follows: –

23 school, stables and livery yard owners each received 1 copy of the stable and livery yard survey, in addition
460 rider questionnaires were sent to the same stables and livery yards in batches of 20 for distribution to customers
500 rider survey forms were passed to local representative(s) of the British Horse Society for distribution
1067 were distributed to organisations, riding clubs and associations and private individuals

5 (22%) stable and livery yard owner questionnaires were returned
313 (15.5%) rider questionnaires were returned
Only 56-64% of rider questionnaire respondents answered questions relating to livery and stable usage, indicating perhaps that the remaining 36-44% accommodate their horse(s) on their own premises.

Stable & Livery Yard Survey Response Analysis

Question 1. Type of Business

Responses indicate that businesses were typically offering a combination of different services, included stables, stud, livery-yard, DIY livery-yard, riding school, riding holidays and trekking.

Question 2. No. of Years in Business

3 of the respondents had been in business for more than 10 years, 1 between 5-10 years and 1 less than 5 years.

Question 3. No. of Horses in Current Use

4 of the respondents had over 20 horses, the remaining business had between 15-20.

Question 4. What percentage of your business is local?

1 respondent said that less than 20% of business was local, 2 respondents said between 21-40% of business was local, the remaining respondents gave between 41-60% and 81-100% of business as local.

Question 5. What is the level of experience of your customers?

Responses indicate that horse-riding business customers have a wide variety of ability. Two of the businesses that responded, however, are clearly providing facilities for, and attracting, customers at either end of the spectrum: one indicating that all customers are learner/beginner and another indicating that all customers are experienced.

Question 6. What activities do you offer and what percentage of your business do they comprise?

Responses indicate that businesses are typically offering a combination of different activities, the most popular being ‘hacking’. One business indicated that this comprised all of its activities, while three other respondents indicated that it account for 40-60% of business. Long distance trail riding accounted for 20% of custom for one respondent and 10% for another. Schooling, stabling and dressage accounted for 10-25% of custom for four businesses. Other activities accounted for 15-40% of business for three of the respondents.

Question 7. Which types of routes do you use for hacks?

All respondents said that they used bridle paths for hacking and four said that they also used roads. Owned-land, permissive paths, woodland, beaches and forestry commission land were also used by two of the five respondents.

Question 8. Which marked trails or bridle paths do you use regularly?

See Appendix C.

Question 9. How would you rate the general condition of the marked routes and trails that you use?

60% of respondents rated the general condition as ‘average’, 20% as ‘good’ and 20% as ‘poor’.

Question 10. Do you have any comments to make on the condition of any specific marked routes and trails that you currently use?

See Appendix D.

Question 11. Would you like to be able to offer an increased choice of marked routes?

80% answered yes, 20% answered no.

Question 12. Which kind of routes in particular would you like to be able to offer more of?

Responses indicate a demand for a variety of different kinds of routes, the most popular being ‘longer routes’, ‘bridle paths’ and ‘marked routes/trails’. Also popular were ‘shorter routes’, ‘general hacks’ and ‘woodland’ rides.

Question 13. Which of the following would most help you increase your levels of business?

The most popular responses were ‘more trails’ and ‘a linked system of trails’. Also popular was ‘improved condition of trails’.

Question 14. If you have any other suggestions for improving riding facilities or the marketing of riding facilities in Pembrokeshire, please note them here.

Comments relate to the need to develop an improved network of routes. Safety and ‘better guidance on what facilities have to offer’ were also mentioned.

Rider Survey Response Analysis

Question 1. Name of establishment distributing questionnaire.
Of the 313 rider questionnaires returned, 262 (84%) respondents completed the ‘name of establishment distributing questionnaire’ question. An analysis of the responses reveals:

95 (37%) named a livery yard, stable or stud
73 (28%) named a club or association
36 (14%) specified the British Horse Society
41 (16%) specified that they were ‘private individuals’
17 (5%) named other sources, including shops

Question 2. Are you a visitor to or resident in Pembrokeshire?

87% of responses were from Pembrokeshire residents, 11% of responses were from visitors and 2% didn’t answer this question.

Question 3. Do you own a horse?

82% of respondents stated that they owned a horse, 16% said they didn’t and 2% didn’t answer this question.

Question 4. What kind of riding activity do you come to this school/stable for?

Responses to the question indicate that riders using a ‘school/stable’ do so in order to undertake a variety of different activities. ‘Hacking’ is the most popular activity, undertaken by 225 (70%) of riders. 125 (39%) use a ‘school/stable’ for one-to-one schooling. Group schooling, long-distance trails, other (including show jumping), stabling and dressage were undertaken by 23-33% of respondents. Carriage driving was the least popular activity, being undertaken by 25 (8%) of respondents.

Question 5: What is your level of proficiency?

60% of riders, completing the questionnaire, classed themselves as ‘experienced’, with 35% classing themselves as ‘intermediate’ and 4% as ‘learner/beginner’.

Question 6: How often do you ride?

The majority of riders, completing the questionnaire, ride regularly: 49% ride 2-4 times per week, 27% ride everyday and 13% ride once a week.

Question 7: One average how much time do you spend in the saddle per session?

The majority of riders, completing the questionnaire, ride for several hours: 78% ride 1-2 hours at a time and 15% ride 3-4 hours at a time.

Questions 8 and 9 relate to the use of particular stables and levels of satisfaction with the facilities provided by these businesses.

Between 36-44% of respondents didn’t answer these questions, perhaps indicating an approximate percentage of respondents who don’t use ‘stables’.

Question 8: How often do you use a particular stables?

32% of respondents used a particular stables every day, 13% used one once a week and 9% used one 2-4 times a week.

Question 9 a-f: grade range of facilities offered by stables

Approximately 40% of respondents rated presentation of stables, condition of tack/equipment, schooling facilities at stables ‘excellent/good’, 5-10% of respondents rated these same facilities as ‘average’. Range of hacks, equipment hire and livery services were used by a slightly lower percentage of respondents and were rated by 20-28% of respondents as ‘excellent/good’ and by 3-6% as ‘average’.

Question 10: Do you use other stables in Pembrokeshire?

The majority, 58%, of respondents didn’t use other stables but 16% did.

Question 11. How often do you use other stables?

9% of respondents used other stables ‘occasionally’, with only minimal percentages of respondents using other stables any more frequently.

Question 12 a-f: grade choice of hack routes

86-93% respondents answered this set of questions, indicating a high degree of interest in the current choice of hack routes. 22-33% of respondents graded bridle paths, beach rides, woodland rides and general hacks as ‘excellent/good’. 39-53% of respondents graded bridle paths, woodland rides, long-trails, general hacks and marked routes/trails as ‘average/poor’. The largest ‘poor/very poor’ grading was for bridle paths, long trails and marked routes/trails, 44-47%.

Question 13 a-f: rate the kind of routes you would like to see a better choice of
(Rated 1-6, with 1 being the kind of route they would most like to see)

89-93% of respondents answered this set of questions, again, indicating a high level of interest in the route development. 60% of respondents rated bridle path as 1 and 16% as 2, indicating that this is the most popular kind of route they would like to see a better choice of. Woodland rides were the second most popular, rating 1, 2 or 3 with 66% of respondents. This was followed by long trails with 46% of respondents rating this at 1, 2 or 3 there was slightly less demand for marked routes/trails (41% at 1, 2 or 3) and general hacks (37% at 1, 2 or 3) and beach rides (29% at 1, 2, or 3).

Question 14: Are there any specific routes you would like to see developed, re-opened or improved?

The majority of answers to this question indicate that respondents ride in a wide variety of locations across Pembrokeshire, almost every bridle path in the county was referred to once, or more, in the 230 answers (See Appendix E). The areas referred to most frequently: the Preselis (12), Canaston & Minwear Woods (11), Dale,St Brides Bay,St Davids,Llanrhian (10) and cross-border links with Carmarthenshire/Ceredigion (10).

A number of general issues were also frequently identified. Re-occurring most frequently was the issue of road safety, where riders felt obliged to take horses on to roads in order to cross to another section of bridle path (e.g ‘A’ road crossings) or because of the lack of ‘off-road’ facilities. This issue was identified 33 times. Raised 19 times each were the need for more bridle paths and the need for linked bridle paths to create longer and/or circular routes. The suggestion that existing routes be opened occurred 12 times. Identification of obstructions to existing routes occurred as follows: problems of overgrowth (including over-head), fallen trees and poor drainage were specified 16 times, deliberate obstructions (e.g. fencing, wire etc) were identified 11 times and problems with gates (either locked or unsuitable/dangerous for horses) also occurred 11 times. A number of improvements were also suggested: better way-marking (7), improvements to surfacing (including surfacing of multi-user routes) (6), parking facilities for car and horse box/trailer (5), more information (including maps) (4).

A number of respondents raised the issue of multi-user routes (occurred 15 times). The majority of comments related to what respondents felt to be missed opportunities for the provision of horse-riding routes as part of developments for other users types (e.g walkers, cyclists). The Johnston-Neyland route, in particular, was mentioned 4 times. One or two of the comments related to conflict/potential conflicts between horse-riders and dog-walkers, off-road vehicle users and a horse-rider and kite-buggy.

Further, general, suggestions included developing a/the coast path for use by horse-riders (7), developing disused railway lines (e.g Cardi Bach) (6), the development of woodland rides (5), improving access to beaches (5), and developing routes on land owned by the National Trust/MOD/Forest Enterprise (4).

Question 15: How regularly do you think you would use any additional routes?
Respondents said that they would use additional routes regularly: 47% of respondents said that they would use any additional facilities 2-4 times a week, 19% said they would use them once a week and 13% 1-3 times per month.

Question 16: Which of the following would most improve your overall riding experience in Pembrokeshire?

Riders were asked to indicate their preferences from a pick-list of twelve options and invited to make ‘other’ suggestions.

A total of 1325 preferences were expressed, the most popular being ‘a linked system of trails’, which was indicated by 241 (75%) of respondents. Second to this was ‘more trails’, indicated by 205 (64%), and third was ‘improved condition of trails’ 174 (54%). Also popular were ‘better way marking/sign-posting of trails’, ‘more active hacks ie cross country jumps’ and ‘longer trails’, which were indicated by 44-50% of respondents. ‘More B&B opportunities for riders and horses’, ‘more varied hacks’ and ‘other’ considerations were indicated by 14-24% of respondents. Top amongst ‘other’ considerations were bridle paths, off-road opportunities and road-safety improvements.

Question 17: Would you be interested in using B&B facilities with overnight stabling?

Responses indicate a degree of uncertainty among riders as to whether they would be interested in such facilities: 28% replied ‘yes’, 23% ‘no’, 33% ‘maybe’ and 11% ‘not sure/don’t know’.

Question 18. If you have any other suggestions for improving riding facilities or the marketing of riding facilities in Pembrokeshire, please note them here:
There were a total of 208 responses to this question. Responses typically contained multiple suggestions.

The improvement most frequently suggested was that of developing links between routes to create longer and/or circular routes (occurred 50 times). Second to this (occurring 48 times) were concerns over road safety. This was linked to the need to develop more off-road riding opportunities (appearing 33 times), the need to raise awareness among drivers of the likely presence of horse-riders on roads and appropriate driving. Linked to this were comments that signage, to warn drivers of the likely presence of horses, and marking of bridle paths, particularly where they intersect with roads, could be improved (26 mentions).

The suggestion that bridle paths be opened (occurring 35 times) and maintained (16 times) appeared frequently. Additional specific maintenance concerns were overgrowth (including overhead) and drainage (15 times), problems with unsuitable/dangerous gates (10), other animals (7), concerns over surfacing (5) and deliberate obstructions (5). One respondent suggested indicating path numbers and a text phone number on route posts in order that riders could report obstructions.

There were 26 requests for improved public information on routes (e.g map indicating where the accessible bridle paths in Pembrokeshire are located). 5 respondents suggested that web information/maps would be useful.

The idea that existing bridle paths could be linked with permissive routes (including through land owned by the National Trust, MOD, Forest Enterprise) to create the desired longer and/or circular routes appeared 18 times. The need to improve landowner relations was mentioned by 4 respondents. Specific mechanisms suggested for engaging landowners were toll rides (6) and grant assistance to open/develop land and/or associated business (9).

The development of accommodation for horse and rider, in some instances linked to longer/circular routes, was raised 17 times. 2 respondents suggested that accommodation for horse, rider and dog would be preferable. There were a number of references to business support measures, which it was felt would be useful. These included the ‘grant assistance’ referred to above, assistance with business rates and insurance (8), general business support (2) and the idea of developing a ‘network’ for businesses providing accommodation for horse and rider (4).

The possibility of exploring multi-user opportunities was also raised, receiving 15 mentions. Other development possibilities that received reoccurring mention were improved beach access (9), jumping/cantering opportunities as part of ‘hack’ routes (11), woodland rides (9), parking facilities for car and horse box/trailer (9), rest stops for horse and rider on ‘hack’ routes (5).

Similar to the idea of support for the development of a network of businesses, was the idea of support for the development of a closer network of riders and/or clubs. This was mentioned by three respondents, two of whom suggested the idea of a newsletter or newspaper supplement. The other respondent mentioned a club as the basis for promotion to generating increased individual rider/riding club visits.

Seven respondents said that there was a need for more competitions and shows, particularly in the winter, and five said there was a need for an indoor school/competition facility. Seven respondents felt that there were a number of current barriers to learning to ride, including inaccessible, expensive riding schools.

Four respondents felt that developments should be undertaken in closer consultation with riders.

Conclusions

The majority of those responding to the Survey are experienced (60%) local (87%) riders who typically ride for 1-2 hours (78%), 2-4 times a week (49%) and keep their horse(s) at stables or livery yards (56-64%).

The findings of the Survey highlight a demand for the development of longer, off-road riding opportunities. Responses reflect the current fragmented nature of Pembrokeshire’s bridle path network, which is prompting riders in search of a reasonable length of ride to take to the roads. This contributes to what is reflected as a fairly widespread concern over road safety. The opening and maintenance of existing routes, linked to new sections (possibly of permissive paths) and the development/adaptation of multi-user routes are popularly sited as the way in which to achieve this. The most popular locations sited for development reflect areas where there are already ‘clusters’ of bridle paths (e.g Preseli Hills, Canaston & Minwear Woods). Awareness raising of the needs of horses and riders among drivers and landowners was also highlighted.

The provision of information on accessible routes and improved signage/way-marking were lesser, but still frequently mentioned, considerations. Survey results also highlight that parking facilities for boxes/trailers and the inclusion of jumping/cantering opportunities and rest stops would make for popular routes.

Such developments would, undoubtedly, enhance the safety and enjoyment of leisure riders in Pembrokeshire. 66% of respondents of the Riders Survey said that they would use any new routes developed once a week or more.

There was a small level of demand for developments not linked to the public rights of way network, including the provision of an all-weather school/competition facility and more competitions/events – especially over the winter months – and cheaper, more accessible riding schools.

The distribution of the Survey, and the findings from it, highlight the existence of a well-established network of riding clubs and associations, including the British Horse Society. This network, particularly if further developed through enhanced communications, could prove an invaluable resource in the development of commercial opportunities linked to horse riding in Pembrokeshire.

One aim of a survey targeted at stable and livery yard owners, and their customers, could be to establish an idea of potential economic benefits of developing riding facilities in Pembrokeshire. However, the Stable and Livery Yard Owner questionnaire attracted a very low level of responses and results stand, largely, to reinforce the findings of the rider questionnaire.

The stable and livery yard businesses that did, however, respond typically have around 20 horses and offer a mixture of different services and activities. Responses from riders who use stable and livery yard businesses indicate a general level of satisfaction with the services and facilities provided by these businesses. There was, however, clear uncertainty among riding questionnaire respondents as to whether they might use accommodation for horse & rider.

From this it can, perhaps, be concluded that activity to maximise economic development opportunities arising from an improved bridle path network would come from other sources. It can be suggested, from Survey results, that such enterprise is more likely to be new business established, possibly, by the keen riders themselves. It is not, however, possible to quantify any likely economic benefits from this Survey.

Further research, among stable & livery yard owners and visitors (the later possibly linked to a Greenways or Visitor Survey and undertaken at a different time of year) would be recommended if a picture of any likely economic benefit is required.

Appendix A. Stable & Livery Yard Owner Survey questionnaire – attached

Appendix B. Rider Survey questionnaire – attached

Appendix C.
Stable & Livery Yard Owner Survey
Question 8: Which marked trails or bridle paths do you use regularly?
Minwear Church to Cott Lane
Minwear and Canaston Woods
Bridle path over Narberth Mountain
Bridle path over Templeton Airfield
Permissive path and bridle-way towards Yerbeston
St Twynells to Yerbeston Lane
Speculation Inn to St Twynells Road
Iveston to St Petrox Road
Daisy Back bridle path
Axton Hill to B4320
‘All within a 12 mile radius’

Appendix D.
Stable & Livery Yard Owner Survey
Question 10: Do you have any comments to make on the condition of any specific marked routes and trails you currently use?
Japanese knotweed very predominant along pathway
Dangerous crossing A4075 – Eagle Lodge. Unusable bridle path adjacent to Sycamore’s Ranch, Llawhaden. Too many off-road routes/bridle paths used by 4 x 4 vehicles and scramble bikes, especially in Canaston Woods.
Dangerous road crossing in Canaston Woods. Dangerous surfaces on bridle paths approach Narberth Mountain.
Quite overgrown in summer especially Axton Hill to B4320.

Appendix E.
Rider Survey
Question 14: Are there any specific routes you would like to see developed, re-opened or improved?
12 Preselis
11 Canaston & Minwear Woods, including safer crossing at Eagle Lodge
10 Dale, St Brides Bay, St Davids, Llanrhian
10 cross-border, Carmarthenshire/Ceredigion
8 Colby Woods, Summerhill, Amroth, Saundersfoot, Tenby
7 Orielton, including former permissive path
7 Reynalton, Thomas Chapel, Jeffreyston, Broadmoor, East Williamston, Loveston, Yerbeston
6 Tufton, Puncheston, Llys y Fran, New Moat, Clarbeston Road, Clarbeston
6 Haverfordwest, Merlins Bridge, Freystrop, Little Milford
6 Hook, Llangwm, Rosemarket
6 Martletwy, Lawrenny, Cresselly
6 Cardi Bach and other disused railways
6 Marros Mountain
5 Moylgrove, Poppit Sands, Cilgerran, Llanfyrnach, Boncath
5 Pembroke area & Stackpole
4 Cilrhedyn/Llanychaer, Dinas, Newport, Nevern
4 Narberth area, including Templeton
3 Neyland/Milford Haven
3 Maenclochog, Mynachlogddu
3 Llawhaden
2 Llangolman
2 Penally, St Florence, Manorbier
2 Brynberian, Crosswell
2 Houghton Moor
1 Llanwnda, Goodwick
1 Spittal
1 Crundale

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