Horse and pony clubs in France have received a “breath of fresh air” after the government confirmed that their VAT rate would drop from 20% to 5.5%, in a bid to “preserve and support” the equine tradition.
This may mean there will not be any price increases for stable hire or riding lessons.
Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced this week that the VAT reduction would come into force from January 1, 2024. The ministry made the decision as part of the 2024 budget (projet de loi de finances 2024).
Equine centre and pony club owners have welcomed the news, saying that they have been struggling with rising costs as a result of inflation and higher material and feed prices.
One owner, Michel Robert, who runs stables in Gard (Occitanie), told France 3: “The cost of barley has risen, and barley is the basis of horse feed. This increase therefore has repercussions on all the complex foodstuffs in a horse's diet.”
Another manager, Astrid Miramand, who runs an equestrian centre, said of the VAT reduction: “It's a real breath of fresh air for equestrian centres, because we've been fighting over this for a few years now.
“This may enable us to create jobs and investments so that our clubs can improve and continue to be innovative.”
Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau hailed the decision as a means to “preserve and support this sector of excellence”. He wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “Since 2011, traditional French horse riding has been included on liste du patrimoine culturel immatériel de l'humanité [the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list].
"This sector of excellence must be preserved and supported. This is why, after several years of negotiations at European level, France has the possibility of once again applying reduced rates to the equine industry in 2024…This is the first step towards harmonising taxation within the equine industry."
Depuis 2011, l'équitation de tradition française est inscrite sur la liste du patrimoine culturel immatériel de l'humanité.— Marc Fesneau (@MFesneau) October 24, 2023
Cette filière d’excellence doit être préservée et soutenue.
C’est pourquoi, après plusieurs années de négociations au niveau européen, la France a… pic.twitter.com/fL5jYrXkmq
And while the change is unlikely to make it cheaper for riders - for riding lessons, horse leasing, or stable hire - it may stop prices from increasing.
One freelance horse riding teacher, Gilles Poirson, said: “It will mean we don’t have to increase prices. Because up until now, we have been struggling to survive.”