Rising fuel prices could have a serious impact on the competition circuit and wider horse industry warn riders, show organisers and insurance experts.
One insurance firm reports double the usual number of mid-term horsebox insurance policy cancellations.
Barry Fehler, managing director of South Essex Insurance Brokers (SEIB), said: “People are selling up, but they’re not rushing out to buy trailers, either. The cost of essentials such as mortgages and energy bills are going up and with the price of diesel soaring, increasing road tax and the introduction of the London Emission Zone and operators’ licences people are cutting down.”
On Monday the average price for petrol in the UK was 110.8p and diesel 121.4p a litre. In May 2007, petrol was 95.9p and diesel 96.8p a litre.
The Mounted Games Association (MGA) has cancelled its pairs championship at Newark this weekend as a result of fuel prices.
“To fill a lorry to go anywhere is at least £100, and Newark is about as central as you can get,” said chief executive Mary Worth. “But we had less than 80 entries — last year there were more than 140 — and feedback was that our members are finding things difficult.”
South Berkshire MGA team trainer and county rep Martin White usually takes his daughter to the pairs championships.
“Riding is not a cheap sport, but I just can’t justify it any more,” he said. “We might have to downsize or just compete locally.”
The Pony Club and British Equestrian Federation told H&H they are “monitoring the situation”.
Read this news story in full in the current issue of Horse & Hound (15 May, ’08), on sale now.