Showing organisers are having to work harder to attract competitors, say experts.
The biggest shows continue to attract large entries, but competitors are trying to make the best use of every litre of fuel at the lower levels.
“One-day and weekend shows were popular this year because you can take a few animals, do a number of classes and get more for your money,” said British Show Horse Association chairman Nigel Hollings.
The British Show Pony Society’s (BSPS) Heritage Championship Show (13-14 October) had record entries.
That is partly because it offered entrants multiple chances to qualify for the heritage ridden mountain and moorland (M&M) supreme championships at Olympia, said Karen Ward of the Society.
“We had 1,400 entries, as opposed to 1,200 last year. People want to maximise what they do,” she said.
BSPS memberships have remained steady but pony registrations have dropped by 100 this year, implying that competitors are doing more with fewer ponies.
Swaffham Show in Norfolk (30 September) took advantage of this by offering a buy-one-get-one-free offer. Forty-five competitors made 150 entries at the show.
Some classes are being adversely affected, said Catherine Burdock of
Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain.
“Entries in mare and foal and youngstock classes have been disappointing this year. It’s an effect of breeders deciding not to put their mare in-foal,” said Ms Burdock.
And the National Pony Society (NPS) said it has had fewer studbook registrations this year.
But some aspects seem to have taken off.
“There were 20 entries in the lightweight cob class at the New Forest and Hampshire Show (25-26 July), normally there are 10,” said competitor Karen Ledger.
And NPS said the number of M&Ms registered with them keeps increasing.
“They are accessible and family-orientated and that appeals in the current climate,” said a spokesman.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (25 October 2012)