Almost the first month of the British Eventing calendar has been lost due to the foot-and-mouth crisis and more cancellations look likely.

BE chief executive Peter Durrant said: “This has been a joint decision with our organisers, especially as we have such close links with farming and agricultural land owners who provide the venues essential to our sport.

“We will monitor the situation and further measures will be taken if necessary. Every effort will be made to accommodate cancelled fixtures later in 2001.”

Event organisers, including those at Belton Park, Badminton and Chatsworth, said preparations were well under way and would be maintained so that the events could run if allowed.

“The next week will be crucial to decision-making,” added Chatsworth organiser Mike Etherington-Smith. However, there are growing fears that Badminton may be lost this year or that riders will have trouble getting an advanced run – and in some cases qualification – in time.

Selkirk-based Olympicrider Ian Stark said: “We’ve had snowdrifts to cope with as well here. No horses can go in or out of the premises, but we can keep them fit on our own land, although I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth it.”

And Mary King, winner of Badminton 2000,who is based in Devon, said: “My horses are fit and ready to start competing, but if we lose the spring season I will probably have to turn the older horses away and concentrate on the younger ones.

“My yard is 15 miles from our farm, but we are observing a strict disinfection regime.”