There has been a fair amount of venue bashing recently on social media, with people griping about the cost of competing and stabling at shows. I can only speak for Hickstead, but our outgoings are around £4m every year and we have to try to generate that amount to just break even.
Essentially, we have five income streams — ticket sales, trade stands, entry and stabling fees, sponsorship, and showground hire and events. We recently invested £500,000 in a fourth all-weather arena, firstly to give us weather resilience, but also to create a new all-weather cross country schooling facility, which will be open between October and May. Diversification is the key to spreading the annual overheads.
I believe that show centres should be applauded for their contribution to the sport. We’ve just had our best ever season at Hickstead and the family keeps on going because it’s what we were bred for. We’d probably be a lot better off if we did something else, but it’s our father’s legacy and we love it.
Ref Horse & Hound; 5 September 2019