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Event organisers count cost of heavy rainfall

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Weeks of heavy rain are not only causing competition schedules to be ripped up, they are also making serious dents in the finances of equestrian businesses and show organisers.

County shows, horse trials and point-to-point fixtures have all been affected, with British Eventing (BE) alone losing more than 50 days. [update 9 July] This includes the loss of the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe.

Suffolk Show organisers say they stand to lose “a minimum of £500,000″ after calling off the second day (8 June) due to gale-force winds. They do not have cancellation insurance.

Honorary director David Nunn has written to exhibitors offering a refund – but says he hopes they will decline, to ease pressures on his budget.

“If they can find it in their hearts not to claim, it helps us and the future of the show. Having said that, showing is expensive – and we are more than happy to pay,” he said.

Royal Highland Show went ahead (23-24 June) despite torrential rain, but organisers estimate footfall was down 15%.

BE said more than £750,000 had been claimed under its abandonment insurance policy this season.

Members are being surveyed to see if they want to keep the system, introduced in 2010, in which the competitor receives a refund of their entry fee less the abandonment premium.

Grass-roots competitor Emily Gawler, from Devon, said the premiums were adding up.

My young horse has not run once yet” she said. “I’ve lost seven abandonment fee payments – almost equivalent to a whole BE90 entry fee.

“The thought of losing more money has put me off entering more events,” she added.

BE has moved to help members struggling to keep horses ticking over, by offering a three-month “eventers’ membership” with British Showjumping (BS).

And John Colson of Nutwell Court Horse Trials (3-4 July), acted swiftly to prevent abandonment – by moving the event to Bicton.

Many hunts have taken a substantial hit with the loss of their point-to-point.

Fixtures abandoned due to waterlogging include the North Ledbury, Quorn and Torrington Farmers’ – traditionally the last of the season – which was postponed from 16 to 23 June, but still had to cancel.

“We are insured, so we are covered for our loss,” said Torrington Farmers’ chairman Tod Marshman.

“But, as with many hunts, it’s the biggest fundraiser, so it will have a heavy impact on our finances.”

Some equestrian small businesses say they are suffering, too.

Vikki Hulton, who runs a mobile grooming service in South Wales, said the wet summer had “ruined” her.

“No one wants any bathing or plaiting doing,” she said.

And Mandy Monaghan, whose company Hamish & Ozzie makes horsehair jewellery, is still suffering from the cancelled Badminton.

“It’s has left me in a position where I can’t really afford to do Burghley this year,” she said.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (5 July 2012)

Originally published on horseandhound.co.uk