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Former H&H deputy news editor

How have horse owners and competitions coped with the unseasonal weather?

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Hickstead won plaudits last week for the organisers’ valiant efforts to keep the arena and car parks in good order and provide great sport for the public.

But the show was very close to being called off, organiser Lizzie Bunn told H&H, because although the main arena was in perfect condition the same could not be said of the lorry park.

“If there had been rain on Thursday morning, that would have been it,” she said.

The venue called in tractors from local farms to pull boxes and cars on and off the car parks, and a specialist contractor to remove the mud being deposited by vehicles leaving the site from surrounding roads.

“Lorries were sliding around as they were being towed and our car parks manager said any more rain and we’d have to pull the plug,” said Lizzie.

Showing supremo Carol Bardo said: “It was a brave decision to continue after the first few days but with 100% commitment from every member of the team it will be remembered as the show in the 2012 monsoon season.”

This is now officially the worst eventing season for cancellations in history – between 70 and 80 days of competition have been lost since the start of the 2012 season.

“The conditions are unprecedented and we now have had more cancellations than our previous worst year, 2007,” said Nina Lloyd-Jones of British Eventing (BE).

“But we have managed to add 20 extra days back into the calendar and hope the weather will now improve.”

And vets and farriers have seen a lot of issues caused by the unremitting rain.

Farrier Bob Black-Wood, in Melton Mowbray, Leics, said he has seen more laminitis cases than usual – particularly septic cases, caused by untreated abscesses.

He said infection is getting into the feet, softened by the wet weather, and causing an abscess. If this goes untreated it can cause laminitis.

Vet Chris House, who practices in Essex, said the mini heat wave could cause “an explosion of laminitis“.

And H&H vet Karen Coumbe said the warm, wet conditions are causing a lot of skin problems, including ringworm, rainscald and mud fever.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (26 July 2012)