Venue cancels 2018 show calendar over parking issues

  • Cambridgeshire riders have been left without a British Dressage (BD) competition venue this year after the College of West Anglia (CWA) cancelled its whole 2018 show calendar.

    The equestrian centre, which ran both affiliated and unaffiliated dressage and British Showjumping for schools, as well as Pony Club competitions, took the decision to suspend all show dates following a review of parking on 2 January.

    Show organiser Jessica Fardoe confirmed in a statement that there would be no equine competitions at the Cambridge campus in 2018.

    “We have reviewed horsebox/trailer parking on site and have decided that horseboxes/trailers are now only allowed to be parked, and horses/ponies unloaded, in the equine area and not in the main campus car park,” she said.

    “There is currently a maximum of six vehicles able to be parked in this area at any one time, although we hope to increase this to eight in the near future.

    “We recognise that this is disappointing for all of our regular competitors and we hope to look at potential alternatives for weekend use of our arena space and what activity we may be able to offer,” she added. “We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused and would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding.”

    Parking for competitions was previously in a car park shared with the main campus and organisers are unsure whether any specific equestrian parking will be available for shows in the foreseeable future.

    Following the decision, riders shared concerns over the lack of venues in the area.

    Rider Charlotte Damary-Homan, who is based 30 minutes’ drive from CWA, said the decision would mean she could not compete at BD Quest this year, as no centres within viable travelling distance are now hosting competitions.

    “Two months ago my horse and I moved from Hampshire, near the New Forest, where in hindsight I was almost spoilt for choice for super competition venues hosting both affiliated and unaffiliated competitions,” she said. “I’m originally from the Cambridgeshire/north Essex area and recalled enough competition venues from my childhood but sadly many have closed in the 14 years I’ve not lived in this area.”

    She said that as a result, losing CWA was a “huge blow”.

    “There’s so few venues under an hour’s drive from my yard. I mostly compete alone so I’m reluctant to drive much over an hour, compete and drive home again. I learned the hard way following a cross-country fall that I shouldn’t travel too far away alone in case I find myself unable to drive home due to injury.

    “I got to the Quest national finals 2017 so was really keen to do Quest again this year in the hope of reaching nationals again and bettering my fifth place. Sadly that dream can’t become a reality.”

    A spokesman for British Dressage said that two new venues for the county — Grey Fern Oark in Whittlesey and Fenlands EC in Wisbech — would start to “run soon” but could not confirm when.

    “If members in the region have any suggestions of potential new venues, please get into contact with our eastern RDO Katharine Perry via the BD website,” she added.

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