The South Western Show Jumping Club (SWSJC) has found a new site, at Chard Showground, Somerset, 30 miles from its previous base at Bicton Arena, Devon.

The club had been at Bicton since 1975, but failed to reach an agreement on rent rises at the site (see news, 28 October 2010).

“We have not fallen out with our old landlords [Clinton Devon Estates] at Bicton,” said SWSJC chairman Bryn Oakley. “We have just come to the end of an era. They wanted more rent than we could comfortably afford.”

SWSJC’s first event at the new venue, an Easter show, will be held on 22-24 April.
The 96-acre Chard showground will be wholly rented to the club for a minimum of five years, at less than half the fee requested by Bicton Arena for the SWSJC’s 13 days of shows, said Mr Oakley.

Titherleigh Horse Show (25 June) and Chard Agricultural and Horse Show (16-17 July) will continue to run at the ground.

SWSJC will initially run four jumping rings at Chard, plus an unaffiliated and a clear-round ring, while planning permission is negotiated for a new large arena.

There are currently no equestrian facilities at the site.

British Showjumping (BS) development officer for the south-west Anne Newbery said: “It’s a shame the SWSJC had to find a new home, but in time this should be another superb venue.

“It is a blank canvas with great potential. I hope the experienced committee takes its time over developing the site.”

Bicton Arena will continue to run a number of shows, including two affiliated three-days in May and September.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (3 February, 2011)