It was all systems go for equestrian event organisers last weekend as the weather finally appeared to turn the corner after a winter of heavy snow and incessant rain.
The Western point-to-point meeting at Wadebridge was lucky to run first time on Sunday after a week of dry weather, but 16 other meetings have been postponed and 12 abandoned due to frost, snow and waterlogging.
Likewise, racing suffered a crippling season with 80 fixtures cancelled, from Folkestone in the south-east to Ayr on the west Scottish coast.
Some hunts have laid on by-days to make up for cancellations earlier in the year.
The Brecon and Talybont lost four weeks’ hunting to the weather this season.
“The major Christmas meets weren’t fit for horses and we could only take the hounds out on foot,” said Brecon huntsman Jed Watson.
“In recent years we took it for granted that the weather would be mild, but the last two winters have caught us out.”
Time off and cancelled days has made things even tougher for hunt finances.
“In the 1970s and 80s you always reckoned on a few weeks off for the weather, but between 1992 and 2004 the Cattistock didn’t call off a single day for frost or snow,” said Alastair Jackson, director of the Masters and Foxhounds Association.
“It’s been a bad scenting year and a real struggle for all hunts financially.”
Showjumping was not excluded from the cancellation curse as 65 affiliated shows across the country were called off due to bad weather.
Three team chases were lost due to frost or flooding and Isleham one-day event had a delayed start due to frost.
“We thought the weather was going to have a really bad effect on eventing, but now the ground seems to have dried out nicely,” said Una Browne, fixtures co-ordinator for British Eventing.
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (18 March, ’10)