Poor attendance at the Suffolk Show (27-28 May) has highlighted the effect the credit crunch is having on events.

Catalogued entries were only 100 down on last year, but many didn’t turn up. There were no heavyweight hunters, only two large hacks and three pony classes with just one entry.

Showgoers have suggested the price of fuel means owners who have already earned a Royal International or Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) ticket do not want to travel.

They also say early closing dates, often 10-12 weeks before a show present a problem to producers who don’t want to make entries unnecessarily.

Hunter producer Alwyn Fradley said: “Entering in advance is part of showing, but if horses have already earned their ticket it is cheaper for owners to leave them at home.”

But events that take entries on the day, particularly the BSPS Area Shows, have done a roaring trade this season.

Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Spring Show secretary Marilyn Ludlow was worried by low numbers of pre-entries for the Arena UK show on 26 April but was “delighted” with turnout on the day.

Exhibitors also queued to enter at the recent Shropshire Country Spring Show (17 May).

“We deliberately offered a late closing date to help competitors,” said Area 10 secretary Sharon Thomas.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (11 June, ’09)