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Are horseboxes getting too big? This is the question being suggested by event organisers in the wake of this spring’s spate of cancellations.

Four weeks of wet weather forced the complete or partial cancellation of 14 events between 20 April and 13 May, including Badminton.

Some organisers feel that, although the ground conditions for horses would have been acceptable, the “ever increasing size of lorries” makes it harder to run.

Lisa Hughes of Hambleden Horse Trials, which was abandoned after the first day, said: “Trying to tow a lorry laden with six horses through a quagmire not only causes huge damage to the ground but is also a health and safety hazard.

“One of our workers, who was driving a tractor, fractured his wrist in an incident.”

Mrs Hughes added that mud carried on to the public highway by lorries was also a concern as it is against the law.

Highclere, which had been running for 25 years, was forced to pull the plug this year.

A statement said: “The level of wear and tear to the estate has been an increasing concern, particularly how to cope with the number of horseboxes that seem to increase in size every year.”

And on 11 May, Royal Windsor Horse Show cancelled 12 classes to “keep the horsebox park running”.

But professional riders – such as William Fox-Pitt, who often takes six or seven horses to an event – says a large horsebox is a necessity: “Taking two or more smaller lorries to an event in case the ground is wet isn’t an option – we need to make it as cost-effective as possible,” he said.

Ms Hughes believes she may have the solution – in the form of temporary hard standing.
“We need to make sure that we are prepared,” she said.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (31 May 2012)