The first HorseWorldLive show has attracted different verdicts, with some visitors enthusing about the event but others — including tradestand holders — bemoaning the poor attendance.
Show director Karena Cooper had billed the show, at the ExCeL Arena, London (16-18 November), as a Your Horse Live for the south-east.
It comprised a shopping village, the first round of the new Express Eventing series and demonstrations from riders including the Funnells and William Fox-Pitt.
Organisers hoped to sell 30,000 tickets, but traders at the show estimated that as few as 5-6,000 people turned up.
“We were very disappointed as we were told to expect 10,000 a day,” said Gary Yates of Blaze Clothing, who did not cover his costs.
“The tickets were very expensive [£55 for an adult ticket on the door on Express Eventing Saturday] so people had paid so much to get in that they didn’t want to buy anything else,” he added.
Nicky Fletcher of Equisafety told H&H that the atmosphere was “like a morgue” and said she would not be going again.
Spectator Eve Jones estimated that “about 10%” of the seats in the main arena were occupied on the Sunday afternoon.
“There was an interesting demo with Sharon Hunt, Emile Faurie and Geoff Luckett. It just seemed mad that they were there with no one watching.
“The lack of people made it quite depressing,” she added.
But other visitors praised the event. Carol Mepham said she had a “great day” out, while Lauren Ferguson — who had travelled from Belfast — described HorseWorldLive as “fantastic value and a great event”.
Anna Ross Davies, who hosted the “talk theatre”, interviewing riders including Mark Todd and showjumper Geoff Billington, agreed.
“We could have done with a few more seats,” she told H&H.
“I thought it was a very good quality show with a nice feel. It’s a different concept and I think it will work,” she added.
Eventer Sharon Hunt, who took part in the “dream team” demo, said the show was “absolutely brilliant”.
“Yes, there could have been more people, but everyone who went had a good time — and these things do take a while to get going,” she said.
HorseWorldLive show director Karena Cooper admitted that “a larger attendance had been anticipated, considering the world-class line up and the extensive marketing campaign”.
But she added that shows, particularly in their inaugural year, could only ever estimate public attendance.
Next year’s HorseWorldLive is scheduled to run from 22-24 November.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (29 November 2012)