HORSES have been a major part of country shows for more than a century but a proposal by the Barossa Council threatens their future at Tanunda and Angaston Shows.
The council - which owns the ovals where the two shows are held - is proposing to ban "high impact events", including horses, on multi-purpose ovals from 2021.
It says they cause detriment to surfaces used primarily for recreation and can undermine the works implemented by council and community volunteers to maintain the surface quality.
The proposed plan has sparked backlash from committees who fear a huge loss of income and one of their major attractions.
They have garnered community support with more than 2300 people signing an online petition in less than a week urging the council to rethink the policy which will 'jeopardise' country shows.
Angaston Show secretary Chris Linke says horses are the heart of their show, and last year brought in nearly $13,000 of income and provided all-day entertainment.
"Already a few years ago they stopped shearing (competition) on the oval so we had to move it," she said.
"We have brought it back at a huge cost, but we can't do that with the horses, we can't just put them somewhere else.
"Usually when you come to someone with a potential problem I was taught to come with a solution - there isn't one here.
"These riders spend thousands of dollars on their horses, they are not going to compete on some dirt heap to qualify for the Royal (Adelaide) Show," Mrs Linke said.
If we don't have the horses we will have to spend money that we don't have on entertainment or displays and then the show becomes more like a market than a show.
Tanunda Show secretary Deb Miles says it will be a "missed opportunity" if the proposal goes ahead, with country shows kickstarting many young riders equestrian careers but also a major financial loss.
"If we don't have the horses we will have to spend money that we don't have on entertainment or displays and then the show becomes more like a market than a show."
Mrs Miles argues the whole football season would do far more damage than 1.5 days of horses at their show and wants the council to delay any decision until after the 2020 show to assess the surface.
"They are saying that they want the oval for sport, well, horse competitions are a sport too," she said.
Both shows say they are willing to contribute to post event remediation costs and top dressing to ensure the ovals remain in pristine condition, but have never been asked.
SA Country Shows president Francis Andrews says the proposal has raised fears for the future of other shows, with many of them also held on council-owned land.
In a written response to Stock Journal Barossa Council says any change regarding high impacts on ovals will not be implemented for the upcoming 2020 show season to give event organisers opportunity to discuss alternate options with Council and make the transition.
Its staff are keen to work with the shows on alternative venues, with at least three "dedicated equestrian facilities" within the council area at Angaston, Williamstown and Mount Pleasant.
Community consultation for the event management policy closes on Friday.
- Details: visit ourbetterbarossa.com