Some show organisers and riders are outraged at British Dressage’s (BD) decision to rotate venues for its Area Festivals.

There are currently 18 of the championship-style shows between August and November. They attract around 3,000 riders in total and are lucrative for the venues that host them.

Sheepgate Equestrian, Lincs, which has hosted BD events for 16 years and held the Area Festival for the past 11, is one of the centres to miss out next year.

“It’s a kick in the teeth when we have supported them [BD] through thick and thin,” said manager Sarah Payne.

“There is a new venue that has only run two BD events that has been given a Festival. I think allocation should be decided on merit.

The loss will also have serious financial consequences for Sheepgate, Sarah claimed.

“We need to take a long, hard look at what we are able to offer if this event is taken away from us,” Sarah added.

“We cannot carry on if our governing body is making venue allocation a lottery.”

Sheepgate said it has received more than 100 emails in support— one competitor said the decision was “utter madness”.

A BD forum member posted: “I am all for giving new venues a chance, but not at the expense of those venues that have been consistently good performers.”

“This must be the most stupid thing that BD have ever done,” added another.

But BD told H&H its decision to move sites around, on a one-year rotational scheme, is to help meet the demand of more than 40 venues that ask to host the Festivals.

Paul Graham from BD said: “The allocation of Area Festivals in 2014 has no reflection on the achievements or performance of any of the existing venues in running shows.”

Kingswood Equestrian and Myerscough College are two other high-profile centres that will not host an Area Festival in 2014.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (8 August 2013)