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Bad Trend for Horse Shows Continues



With less than two months until show time, the Roanoke Valley Horse Show has been cancelled.  It is one of the few remaining multi-breed shows left in the country and officials are not optimistic about a possible future for the show. Association President Donnis Honeywell commented “We’ve tossed it around but at this point in time I would say it is unlikely.  With the loss of sponsors and revenues just this year, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to get that back.”  It had been a staple of the show circuit for 43 years and has raised large sums of money for area charities.

The numbers had been going in the wrong direction for a while.  Last year, for example, exhibitors occupied 430 stalls down 85 from 2013.  As recently as 2007, more than 1,000 stalls were being rented show week. Crushing blows included the loss of major sponsors and rising costs.

The U. S. Equestrian business as a whole has struggled in recent years. The Roanoke Times reported last year on the financial troubles at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington. The Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is said to be facing a $1.3 million loss this fiscal year unless new horse shows are booked there. It is one of the country’s top equestrian venues with 25 acres under roof and is three years removed from an $86 million expansion.

Readers are familiar with the huge losses sustained by The Celebration over the last five years for some of the same reasons – loss of major sponsors and decreasing revenues, especially stall revenue.  Add to those factors the massive effort to destroy the industry by the Humane Society of the United States, the subjective inspections of the USDA and a media that refuses to tell both sides of the story.

While it may be comforting to know that the breed is not suffering alone, it also points out the need to get our house in order, regain the public’s trust and support and make changes that will attract owners and spectators.

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