Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Sunday, 4 May 2008 13:16 UK

Horse show behaviour axes classes

Royal International Horse Show, Hickstead
The junior classes are being replaced with a Young Rider group

The bad behaviour of parents has led to junior classes at an equestrian event in West Sussex being cancelled.

Organisers said Junior and Pony Masters classes at June's Derby meeting at Hickstead showjumping course would not go ahead following rows last year.

Director Lizzie Bunn said wet weather last summer forced junior classes out of the main arena, leading to "very unacceptable behaviour" from parents.

"As an organiser you have to make some unpopular decisions," she explained.

You do not expect the backlash that we had last year
Lizzie Bunn, director and show secretary, Hickstead

"My father started Hickstead nearly 50 years ago and I've actually been running the show for 21 years and I've never had to witness the scenes that we had last year," the show secretary said.

She said last year's bad weather led to "two of the wettest shows on record" and in order to save the ground for the main classes, junior classes had to be moved out of the international arena.

"Our team was working tirelessly, literally around the clock, just to keep the show on the road... all round the rest of the country shows were being cancelled and we were doing our level best to keep everything going."

Mrs Bunn said she appreciated the disappointment and frustration of parents, who had put a lot of time and effort into the shows, but "you do not expect the backlash that we had last year".

She said she had now decided to replace the event with a Young Rider group for 18 to 21-year-olds.

"We just hope that the slightly older children know how to behave a bit better."




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