Horse sport takes steps to support competitors during cost of living crisis

  • More measures have been announced by horse sport governing bodies to help provide financial support during the cost of living crisis.

    H&H reported concerns around low entries, riders having to choose between training or competing, and volunteers and judges having to offer their services less owing to high fuel costs (news, 5 May). Last week, fuel prices hit another record high, despite the 5p per litre fuel duty cut in March, with prices above £2 per litre in some areas.

    British Dressage (BD) has announced measures to be implemented from 1 July, including the removal of all minimum starter levy payments for venues, and a reduction in the competition starter levy from £2 to £1.50 for 12 months. Judge payments will increase from £1 to £1.50 per starter for List 1 to 4 judges, and from £1 to £1.25 for List 5 and 6.

    The BD board has also pledged to maintain membership fees at current levels “if possible”, when fees are reviewed at the end of the year – but this will be dependent on its budget.

    BD chief executive Jason Brautigam said BD had a stronger than anticipated recovery from the pandemic, which has allowed it to use some of the surplus generated last year to support these initiatives and “help to safeguard the future of the sport”.

    “It is in everyone’s interests to ensure shows remain viable and offer attractive propositions for our members, organisers and officials. With more than 18,000 members, the sport is in good health currently, but there is no room for complacency, and we will continue to monitor participation numbers closely,” he said.

    British Eventing (BE) has announced initiatives to help competitors, including the launch of “Go BE”, which allows riders to take part in affiliated competitions from 80cm to 100cm without the need for a BE membership – and with entry fees set at the lower limit. Results will be unpublished, qualifications will not count and there will be no prize money.

    BE has also reduced the cost of its pay-as-you-go membership by 50% from £30 to £15 per category, with a £10 run fee.

    “With the spiralling cost of fuel and rapid rise in inflation, we very much wanted to help in any way we could to minimise the pressure on our members,” said BE chief executive Helen West.

    British Showjumping (BS) chief executive Iain Graham told H&H that BS has recognised the financial pressures for venues for a number of years and has taken steps to ensure the costs of affiliating and running BS shows are kept within viable levels.

    “To that end, we have held show affiliation fees at the same amount for the last 12 years; 80p per senior rider up to a maximum of £100 per day at a category one show, £150 for category two and £200 for category three,” he said.

    “We also subsidise the costs of training, assessing and providing CPD [continuing professional development] for the officials required at a BS show, as well as providing access to hire showjumps at competitive rates.”

    Tipping point

    The British Horse Society (BHS) said the large financial commitment of owning a horse has been “magnified” in recent months, and rising living costs combined with the continued effects of the pandemic could be the “tipping point” in terms of owners’ abilities to keep their horses.

    “It is vital to look ahead and budget as effectively as possible, in a way that doesn’t compromise horse health and welfare,” said BHS welfare education manager Emmeline Hannelly. “Consider clubbing together to save money, fuel and time; discuss opportunities for reduced rates on bulk supplies of feed, or group visits by vets, farriers and other professionals.”

    Owners seeking advice and support can contact the BHS horse care and welfare helpline.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...