Safety worries force cancellation of historic London riding event

  • Health and safety concerns have led to the cancellation of a long-running riding event in central London.

    The London Riding Horse Parade (not pictured) has been taking place in Hyde Park since 1938.

    The original aim of the event was to raise the smartness and safety of riders in the park.

    More recently it has developed into a show, with classes for juniors and adults as well as veteran, side-saddle and riding school pony sections.

    Combinations are judged on their turnout and the horse is also assessed by a farrier and a vet.

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    However, it was cancelled last year due to vehicle access restrictions imposed by the Royal Parks.

    At the time, organisers said they would do “all they can” to run the parade in 2015.

    They discussed other parking options and possible routes competitors could take, but were unable to find a suitable alternative.

    Organiser Claire McCaffery-Clarke, from the British Horse Society (BHS), told H&H that the Royal Parks has become “very tough” on vehicle access to Rotten Row.

    “It is looking incredibly unlikely that the parade will ever happen ever again,” she said.

    In past years, horseboxes were able to park at the end of Rotten Row — giving competitors easy access to the parade site.

    But once the parks put the new restrictions in place, the organisers decided that there would be “too much risk” to both the competitors and members of the public.

    “In the old situation, everything was tight and we could keep members of the public at bay and safe,” Ms McCaffery-Clarke added.

    “The Royal Parks have not said that we cannot run the parade, but the restrictions they have put on access mean there are too many variables for something to go wrong.”

    She also said that the popularity of the parade has been declining in recent years, partly due to the emissions charge — affecting horseboxes — that came into force in the capital in January 2012.

    The charges are between £100-£200 per day, depending on vehicle size.

    A Royal Parks spokesman said: “Rotten Row is primarily for the use of everyday park users and horse riders, making it generally unsuitable for event vehicles and infrastructure.

    “We worked closely with the event organisers to identify a suitable alternative location to host the event, but at the time were unable to find one.”

    As a final attempt to revive the traditional event, Ms McCaffery-Clarke has contacted the Civil Service Riding Club to see if they would consider taking it on or running something similar.

    The group is set to consider the proposal at their meeting in November.

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