Show organisers and stabling suppliers insist that they are not cashing in on or overcharging for stabling at shows, amid complaints among riders about the rising cost.

Some competitors prefer to search out alternatives nearby, choose to travel at antisocial hours or even decide to stay at home instead of forking out up to £50 per box per night.

However, Paul Hooper, secretary of the Association of Show and Agricultural Organisations, says: “Organisers are trying to cover costs and provide a service for the competitor, and that’s all.

“The cost depends on the show’s contract with the stabling company. Then there are management and disposal costs, including security, water, lighting and clearing up.”

Hire companies’ rising costs, he says, have been passed down to organisers, and therefore competitors. An increase in diesel prices, new health and safety laws such as limits on drivers’ hours, and costly insurance have conspired to push prices up.

For example, competitors hiring a temporary stable at a three-day show could pay up to £50 per night. Permanent stabling is generally cheaper at around £22 per night, while substantial savings can often be made by renting a stable locally for as little as £5.

Malcolm Buckingham of the Permanent Show Organisers Association describes stabling at shows as “a necessary evil” and invites competitors who complain about the cost to look at his books.

LH Woodhouse and Co Ltd and Tushingham Stable Hire Ltd supply the bulk of large-scale temporary stabling at UK shows, and the growing Stables-On-Site company was set up three years ago.

Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (3 April 2003), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.