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Reveals take steps to help opponents and horses, as Met Workplace points ‘excessive warmth’ warning

  • Event organisers are taking extra steps to support horses and riders, as the Met Office issues an amber “extreme heat” warning for the weekend.

    The Met Office has issued the warning in England and Wales for Sunday (17 July) and Monday, as temperatures are expected to reach over 35C in the southwest, and more widely around 32C in other areas. Further north, and in Scotland, temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to high 20s.

    With equestrian sport scheduled across the disciplines this week organisers and venues have been taking steps to help riders and horses stay cool.

    Lauren Fogg of Arena UK, which is running a four-day British Showjumping competition from tomorrow (13 July) incorporating second-round classes, told H&H they have sold 500 stables but some competitors based further afield have withdrawn. The centre has announced measures including early starts, revised timetables, and extra staff on hand to make course changes quicker.

    “We are starting at 7am every day and making sure there is plenty of water everywhere for horses as they need it. We’re trying to make things quicker for everyone, and we’re also allowing people to arrive earlier than usual and we won’t close until 11pm, to allow people to travel at slightly cooler times,” she said, adding riders can compete without jackets but must have their shoulders covered for all classes – except for Horse of the Year Show qualifiers, which will be decided by the judges on the day.

    “We are a bit concerned about the heat but we want to do everything we possibly can to make sure it runs smoothly.”

    Extra watering has been taking place at Oxfordshire’s Upton House ahead of its British Eventing fixture tomorrow and Thursday.

    Joint organiser Jessica Thomas told H&H the ground is “amazingly good” despite the hot weather, and that it is not forecast to be as hot on either day as it is at the weekend.

    “Dave Thornton, who runs the farm at Upton Estate, has made a huge effort getting the ground how we wanted it, and it wasn’t as hard as it has been in the past when we started work on it [earlier in the year] so that was really good,” she said.

    “There will be extra water provision at the end of the cross-country, but it’s important that we still need people to bring their own.”

    There will be donation buckets around Upton for anyone who wishes to contribute to the additional course-watering costs.

    A spokesman for the Cotswold Cup, taking place at Barbury Castle (16-17 July), said they are working closely with Barbury organisers Musketeer Events to monitor the weather and put additional provisions in place “as and when the need for them arises”.

    Jenny Meiklejohn of Musketeer told H&H they have “slightly adjusted” the cross-country course to make more use of flatter ground.

    “We’re not sending them up the hills as much and we have upped the amount of water provision, in the lorry park, and at the start and finish, so there will be huge amounts of cold water for people to cool their horses. We are also going to have ‘mobile water’, with people like cross-country stewards and the fence repair team so if anyone gets stuck on course, there will be water available for both horse and rider.”

    Jenny added they are also advising competitors to bring their own water and to make sure they “manage their own horses’ welfare”.

    “It’s conditions that are unusual in this country, but horse sport is carried on around the world in much hotter temperatures, so it’s probably something we all find a bit shocking but if you’re an event rider in Australia it’s very common practice to be riding in temperatures like this. It’s not that humid so we don’t have to deal with that. People just have to be sensible and look after their horses,” she said.

    Show cancellations

    The Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) national championships at Hartpury will now only run two days, from 15-16 July, instead of three.

    An RDA spokesman said in light of the Met Office weather warning for Sunday, the difficult decision had been taken to suspend competition that day.

    “For those RDA groups and competitors due to compete on Sunday, this will obviously be a huge disappointment, but we feel it would be reckless to ignore the specific amber weather warning of extreme heat across Gloucestershire and expose both horses and people to unnecessary risk,” he said.

    “The event will continue exactly as planned on Friday, with extra provision made to help ensure both horses and people can take part safely. On Saturday, changes have been made to some specific classes to help avoid the forecasted highest temperatures of the day.”

    The spokesman added that the site will remain open on Saturday evening and into Sunday morning to enable groups to stayover on Saturday if they had planned to do so, and leave a time that “best suits the welfare of the horses and teams”.

    Sunday entry fees will be refunded, and all accommodation fees for Saturday night will be refunded even if they decide to stay, to “allow everyone to make the best possible decision” about their leaving times.

    Gloucestershire-based Rectory Farm has cancelled its BS category one show on Sunday.

    “As disappointed as we are to have made this decision, as always horse welfare and safety is paramount and with the expected extreme heat we believe that the correct decision was to cancel the day’s competition,” read a statement.

    “We are very sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment this may have caused and we have refunded all competitors previously entered.”

    The Rectory Farm BS show scheduled on Thursday (14 July) is still going ahead.

    Tips for horse owners

    The British Horse Society has issued a number of tips for horse owners including ensuring a constant supply of clean and fresh water is available – and reminded that horses can drink up to 50 litres per day in hot weather.

    “Be aware that buckets of water in the stable can become warm and possibly unpalatable if left to stand for too long, so you may need to change them more regularly than usual to keep them fresh,” said the spokesman.

    “It is ideal to have more than one water source available in the field so that certain herd members aren’t prevented from drinking, or chased away by others. Keeping the water source away from a corner will help prevent a horse being cornered into a small area by another horse.”

    The spokesman said when travelling, to go as early or as late as possible to avoid the hottest part of the day and to take more water than you think you will need.

    “Some horses are fussy about drinking water away from home, so it could be essential to have a familiar supply. Carrying plenty of water is also a vital part of being prepared if your vehicle were to break down with your horses on board. You could be stuck at the side of the road waiting for a recovery crew so water will be vital to help keep your horse cool and hydrated,” he said.

    The spokesman added that riders should ensure horses are cooled effectively after exercise.

    “This can be achieved by continuously pouring cold water all over the horse’s body. Not scraping the water off the horse does not cause the skin temperature to rise,” he said.

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