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Local shows team up to secure their survival

A 114-year-old Hampshire horse show is advising organisers of other events to team up with agricultural shows to secure their survival.

Alton Horse Show was established in 1894 and one of its founders was the Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen’s brother Edward Knight.

The horse show’s organisers say that for the past four years it has continued to flourish by piggy-backing on to the much larger Alton Agricultural Show, sharing insurance, health and safety and staffing costs with the larger event.

At the show this Sunday (6 July) at Froyle Park, Alton, the horse and agricultural shows will sit side by side on a 50-acre site. There will be five rings and more than 300 riders are expected to participate.

Horse show organiser Nicky Seaman said: “We benefit from a huge number of joint cost savings. Both shows are charities and we work as one to spread the costs.”

The annual event attracts around 8,000 people, but with insurance costing £1,800 and two ambulances at £500 each, plus the organisation of the parking, traffic management and ticketing, the overall costs start to rocket.

Other horse shows in the area haven’t been so lucky.

The Steep and Stroud Horse Show in Hampshire and the Farnham Town Show in Surrey have both gone, and the Aldershot Show in Hampshire has a reduced show jumping schedule.

Nicky Seaman said: “We get people coming from more than an hour away, so we envisage a healthy future. We get a significant volume of entries, as we’re the only surviving show in the area.”

Equine insurance specialist Vivienne Wright, of Shearwater Insurance Services, said: “In some cases, especially very small local shows, the price of insurance and health and safety wipe out all the profits.”

She added that for a show with 10 classes, each with 20 entrants, the cost of insurance would be around £250, before paying out for ambulances and other expenses.

“I have seen many shows that have run just once. Those that do manage to keep going tend to be tied to something else, like a riding club or, in this case, an agricultural show,” she added.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (3 July, ’08)

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