The time has come – horse shows are officially up and running again and we are all excited to be back in the ring! That being said, the return to the show ring does not exactly mean a return to business as usual. You can bet there are rules as well as numerous recommendations to be followed, and it will behoove you to read up and make a game plan for your big comeback. After all, this is the “new normal,” and horse shows are now a privilege we need to earn to keep. The USEF has released a COVID-19 Action Plan, and here are some of the highlights and helpful resources.
Prior to entering the show grounds:
Before stepping foot on the showgrounds, it’s best to have your ducks in a row, whether you are a show organizer, participant, support staff, owner, trainer, or family member. First and foremost, the competitions must comply with WHO recommendations and CDC guidelines related to sporting events and mass gatherings. Some additional rules and recommendations prior to competition are as follows:
- Before entering the show grounds daily, a participant is required to check his or her temperature at least once prior to the competition. Anyone who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or who has been in contact with someone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 within two weeks is prohibited from horse show grounds.
- Once on the property, the participant must wear a face mask or face covering when not on a horse.
- One must comply with social distancing protocol of remaining 6+ feet apart while on the horse show grounds (including spectating, food, stabling, competition, schooling areas, etc.).
In addition to rules laid out by the USEF, recommendations are provided as well. Because these are recommendations (and will also vary due to capabilities and restrictions of each competition), there will likely be room for interpretation and levels of precaution available.
- VIP and other social areas are “strongly discouraged” unless social distancing requirements are enforced.
- It is considered a “recommended best practice” for a horse show to provide multiple cleaning/sanitization stations at all competition and schooling areas, and frequent sanitization is encouraged.
- It is strongly encouraged that all entries, adds/scratches, feed/bedding orders, and billing be done electronically.
- Keep the horse show office flowing smoothly and safely. Have all entries and membership requirements prior to entering the office. It is encouraged to provide “in/out” doors if possible, and to have 6-feet spacing markers for those in the competition office.
Gameday Considerations: Competition, Schooling, and Stabling Areas
- Horse show organizers are encouraged to schedule course walks to accommodate social distancing requirements (smaller groups in separate sections).
- Sanitizing supplies are encouraged to be provided and utilized at jumps to wipe down after use. Gloves are encouraged as well as an extra precaution.
- The number of individuals accompanying a horse to the competition/schooling areas is encouraged to be restricted to those necessary to the safety and success of competition—even then, they must comply with social distancing restrictions.
- Restricted stabling is encouraged to limit to all necessary personnel: veterinarians, athletes, officials, grooms, trainers, etc.
- Prevent unnecessary traffic at the stabling areas. One of my favorite pastimes was to “hang out” back at the barn and talk to my trainers and barnmates for hours. In these times, multiple family members are discouraged from accompanying riders/owners to the stabling areas, and a notable consideration listed is to encourage competitors to meet their horses at the show ring to mitigate congestion and contact back at the barns.
These are just some of the notable takeaways from the USEF’s COVID-19 Competition Action Plan. You can find the full rules and recommendations here for more information.
We at Malvern Bank wish you a happy, safe, and healthy return to the show ring! We look forward to helping you achieve your goals outside of the arena. Let’s start the conversation on how we can go Beyond Your Expectations™ so you can go beyond yours. You can also support both your local and equestrian community through the Malvern Bank Affinity Program. Members and supporters who wish to “link” their existing or new bank account to the non-profit organization’s account can help them earn interest for the non-profit! Click here to learn more.