Weeks of solid ground, snow and ice have put paid to almost all horse sport in the UK.
Lauren Humphries of Arena UK in Grantham said: “We had to cancel our show for last weekend [10 January], which was a big qualifier for Hickstead.
“First, the car park was like a skating rink and second, people couldn’t get their horses out here.”
Tim Price of Addington Manor, in Bucks, said: “We haven’t been able to hold any dressage since before Christmas and our three show jumping days have been a disaster because we haven’t had enough people.”
Oldencraig in Surrey has cancelled all its shows, too.
Owner Ian Winfield, said: “Fortunately, we have an indoor school, lungeing arena and horse-walker so exercising the horses hasn’t been too much of a problem, which helps immensely as we cannot turn any of the horses out.”
£10,000 in lost lessons
Some riding schools are not doing much better.
John Sillett, general manager of Wellington Riding in Hampshire, said the weather has cost them around £10,000 in cancelled lessons.
“We’re at the epicentre of all the bad weather,” he said, “and to make things worse, we had a power cut that lasted for three days.”
Hunts hope for respite
Hunts are soldiering on — on foot and quad bike — since the weather has made riding to hounds impossible.
The Ludlow has not been mounted since 15 December, but continues to meet on foot to exercise hounds.
“It’s pretty grim,” said joint-master Bob Smith. “We have about 6in of snow, but it’s the ground that’s the killer.
“I just hope it goes away before the end of the season.”
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (14 January, ’10)