British Dressage (BD) and the British Horse Society (BHS) have issued interim guidance to riders and members as the equestrian world waits to hear exactly what the second lockdown will mean for them in real terms.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on 31 October that England would enter another national lockdown tomorrow (Thursday, 5 November) until 2 December.
The restrictions are for England only, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland face country-specific measures.
In England, people are required to stay at home except for work, if it cannot be done from home, education, exercise and recreation, medical reasons, to care for another or for essential shopping.
The rules also prevent gatherings with people from other households and certain businesses and venues must close.
Equestrians can continue to care for and ride their horses, but “riding stables” and centres are specifically listed among the businesses and venues that must close.
While British Equestrian (BEF) has not yet been able to release full clarification, competition and group activities also look likely to be suspended, with the exception of racing, which is classed as a professional sport.
A statement from BD on Monday (2 November) stated it is “likely that British Dressage will have to suspend all organised training and competition activity in England from Thursday 5 November up to and including Wednesday 2 December”.
“Going back into lockdown is disappointing for everyone, but we have to accept that it’s necessary and we will at least have a much better understanding of what it means for the sport and business this time,” said BD chief executive Jason Brautigam.
“While organised training and competitions may have to be suspended, we will be working with sporting organisations to urge Government to permit as much individual activity as possible within the Covid protocols.”
Mr Brautigam added BD has been working on contingency plans for winter qualifications and further announcements are expected once the situation becomes clearer in Britain over the coming weeks.
The organisation is also now looking to reschedule two regional Quest finals.
“The team at BD HQ are busy working on some new online initiatives, including additional digital content that we aim to release over the next month, so that you’ll still have your ‘dressage fix’ during lockdown,” he said.
“It’s frustrating for all of us that we can’t share these with you in person, but we hope to use this opportunity to innovate and add value for members while you’re unable to compete.
“We are acutely aware of the significant impact that this pandemic continues to have on our members, particularly our organisers, coaches and officials.
“While we welcome the increased financial support that is available for venues and the self-employed, the Government needs to do much more in order to safeguard the future of sport.
“There is a petition set up by UK Active that I would encourage everyone to sign – ‘Save Community Sports Clubs and Leisure Facilities with a Sports Recovery Fund’. Your help to support this campaign would be appreciated.”
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BD’s headquarters are closing from tomorrow, but the team will still be working and can be contacted on phone or email.
A BHS spokesman said the organisation is “acutely aware of how worrying and frustrating” the prospect of a second lockdown in England is for horse owners, livery yards, riding schools and coaches.
“The BHS is working collaboratively with both the British Horse Council and British Equestrian to gain the best position for equestrians,” added the spokesman.
“We have been consulting with government over the last few days and have not issued specific guidance as it continues to significantly change. We are also in contact with SportEngland, Defra and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
“While the new National Restrictions for England have been updated, we are waiting for confirmation of the final legislation before issuing any guidance to our stakeholders.
“We are hopeful, that following today’s (Wednesday, 4 November) vote in parliament, we will receive final clarification later this afternoon or early tomorrow. We will then share a further update with you all. Please be assured we are working to get the best possible position for all equestrians.”
The full advice from BD to its members is as follows:
- You can continue to exercise, including riding, either on your own, with people you live with, with your support bubble or one person from another household. Children under school age, as well as those dependent on care from their parents, do not count towards the limit of two people meeting outside. A short journey is permitted in order to exercise if necessary.
- Although stables and riding centres are required to close, members will still be able to continue attending to and caring for their horse on welfare grounds, if they are unable to make alternative arrangements. This is subject to obtaining permission from the proprietor and any additional requirements put in place by a yard owner should be respected.
- Individuals who are not able to work effectively from home can continue to travel to do so. This would include coaches visiting clients in private facilities, to deliver one to one training or to members of the same household, providing social distancing and hygiene measures are adhered to at all times.
- Online activity can still operate as normal, with four BD approved providers continuing to provide a number of opportunities for members to engage in remote training and competitions from home during the lockdown period.
H&H’s coronavirus Q&A page has been updated with the latest information covering equestrian activities, plus what the restrictions in Wales and Scotland mean for riders and horse owners.
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