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Coronavirus: showjumping and dressage cancelled until end of May

Affiliated dressage and showjumping will remain on hold until the end of May owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

British Dressage (BD) and British Showjumping (BS) announced in a joint statement today (1 April) all competitions, training, and participation activities are cancelled up to and including 31 May, an extension on the previously reported 16 April.

The statement said the status of the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve in the UK, adding that recent government briefings indicate a longer period of lockdown is looking “increasingly likely”.

“Both organisations will continue to monitor developments and take action if there is a relaxation in restrictions which could enable activity to resume before this date, as long as it is safe to do so and within any parameters imposed by the government,” it read.

“While we do not envisage an early resumption of competitions and events at this stage, due to ongoing social distancing measures, we will review this regularly in order to provide members with sufficient notice before any restart.”

It was also announced today that Bramham International Horse Trials (4 to 7 June) has been cancelled.

Event director Nick Pritchard said the coronavirus has impacted on “all of our lives” and any hope of running the event “has now been faded”.

“We have to respect the government public health restrictions in order to help halt the spread and keep everyone safe. The health and safety of our visitors – competitors, officials, volunteers, sponsors, tradestand holders and event staff – is our top most priority,” he said.

“The team at Bramham would like to thank everyone for their continued support; these are challenging and unprecedented times for us all. We’ll be back bigger and better than ever next year in true Bramham style. In the meantime keep following the government guidance, look after yourselves and each other, please stay safe everyone.”

The BD and BS statement said the bodies continue to ask all members and stakeholders to strictly adhere to government guidance, particularly on avoiding non-essential travel and unnecessary social contact, to assist in halting the spread of the virus and protect frontline emergency services staff. This includes advice on caring for horses during the crisis.

“This does not include any provision for ‘virtual’ remote training or competitions and we do not support or endorse any such activity while we are still in the emergent phase of the outbreak,” it read.

“The government has not issued any restrictions on riding, but we would continue to urge all members to act responsibly and consider the associated risks carefully before determining whether it is necessary to ride. The equestrian community fully supports the efforts of the health and emergency services – and we do not want to put further pressure on the NHS at this critical time, when they are already working at full capacity to combat the virus.”

BD chief executive Jason Brautigam said the response the organisation had received so far had been extremely positive, with a “huge sense of solidarity” from members.

“Everyone has united in supporting the government restrictions and guidelines, and understanding about our decisions to cancel activity,” he said. “Although an extension of our suspension period is very disappointing for all concerned, we hope this clarification will give our stakeholders a clearer timeframe to manage their horses and competition aspirations.

“Some hard decisions have had to be made, including those which will impact significantly on the BD team, but I continue to be proud of the efforts that everyone is making to protect the future of our organisation and sport.”

BS chief executive Iain Graham said suspending the sport and activity for the next two months is “without doubt” the correct thing to do.

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“In taking this action it will also allow for members and stakeholders to plan accordingly whether it be around the welfare of their horses, businesses, family or personal situations as we adapt to life as it currently is,” he said.

“On behalf of myself and the rest of the BS board I would like to convey our thanks for the ongoing member, sponsor, stakeholder and staff support we have received; it has been quite overwhelming. Also for the ongoing support of the government efforts that everyone is making to minimise the spread of the virus and the resulting pressure on the NHS.”

BD, BS and British Eventing also today announced plans to reduce costs by furloughing some of their workforce. A skeleton team will remain in place across all departments at BD and BS, while 26 of 44 staff at BE will be placed on furlough from 6 to 30 April, with the situation remaining under constant review.

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