Last year was England’s wettest and the UK’s second soggiest, since weather records began in 1910. It was also officially the worst eventing season for cancellations in history — nearly 100 days of competition were lost in 2012.
Now we are less than a fortnight away from the first fixtures of the new season and the rain hardly seems to have stopped since last April. However, both eventers and organisers are determined 2013 will not be a washout.
Aston-le-Walls (2-3 March) reported a record crop of early entries, 200 in five days.
“People missed so much last year because of the weather and they know the ground at Aston is good, so they want to get their entries in early. We will have to ballot,” said entries secretary Tissie Reason.
Those events that run in the first weeks of the season — Isleham, Moreton and Aston-le-Walls (all 2-3 March), Tweseldown and Oasby (7-10 March) and Somerford Park (9-10 March) — do so because they are on particularly well-draining terrain.
But although they are confident they will go ahead next month, all six said their courses have been very wet.
Isleham in Cambridgeshire had 36ml of rain in January, said organiser Jackie Seddon. “But we are on peat and the water runs straight through to the main drains. The majority of the ground is good with some areas good to soft,” she added.
Liz Frampton-Hobbs at Moreton, Dorset, said they hope for dry weather in the next few weeks.
“We are sand and gravel, so free draining, but it is very wet here,” she told H&H.
Following groundwork in 2007 to build a hard standing lorry park, Tweseldown, Hants, has no concerns about the ground, event secretary Jill Lamont told H&H.
She said: “Snow and frost would put people off, but we do not have to worry about the going.”
Somerford Park, Cheshire, undertook extra maintenance work over the winter, including reseeding, decompaction and spreading 1,000tonne of sand on the course, to ensure the horse trials can go ahead.
“We just need three dry days now before the event to ensure we can run,” said assistant organiser Anne Harrison.
Oasby organiser Anna Buntine was also upbeat, saying: “We might have to pump the water jump out, but the ground at Oasby is amazing. We can run when no one else can.”
Nigel Taylor at Aston-le-Walls, Northants, said: “Aston drains remarkably well and the portable jumps were put in place before the wet weather.”
Read the full story in Horse & Hound(14 February, 2013)