Fixtures across the disciplines are continuing to suffer from the detrimental effects of a long-term lack of rain. This week’s Wincanton NH meeting has moved to Huntingdon and the Ascot Festival suffered around 50 withdrawals.

The Grafton team chase qualifier attracted just one entry in the open section and the Belvoir fixture only drew two entries. The Stamin-A endurance ride at Fontwell was cancelled, partly due to hard ground.

Horse trials such as Oasby, Lincs and the South of England had withdrawals on the day, despite many organisers working hard to prepare the ground.

British Eventing entries secretary Ann Allen says: “We’ve still had to ballot at events known to water, but a lot of people have withdrawn a few days before because expected rain didn’t come.”

Some leisure riders may have underestimated the dangers of hard ground, as Katie Robinson, assistant vet at Baskerville, Horgan & Partners, explains: “Because the ground has been hard for so long, it’s exaggerated underlying problems.

“The heat has made it harder for horses to overcome general disease and previously underlying respiratory diseases have been very difficult to manage.

“We are also seeing a lot of colic cases because there is so little grass, and whatever the horses are eating has little moisture content, so impaction in the gut is common.”

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