Damned if they do and damned if they don’t: it’s time to embrace the rules so competition can restart

  • Opinion

    I’ve felt for those trying to set rules and guidance for everyday life this spring.

    From the government to governing bodies, it seems they’re damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

    British Showjumping (BS) has come in for its fair share of criticism from some members since the pandemic started; first to do with the fact shows weren’t running, and now, it appears, over the fact they are, or nearly so.

    I was delighted when I saw BS’s plans, announced last Friday (22 May) to get back into the arena, and thought everyone else would be too. Training shows from 1 June, as long as updated government guidance allows it, and competitive events from 15 June.

    But there have been dissenters. I’ve seen people saying the restrictions, planned to ensure events comply with Sport England guidance for safe resumption, mean that shows won’t be fun, or value for money. There’s been criticism over the fact shows will only start in England, even though England is so far the only place the government restrictions allow these plans, and the reason no national qualifiers are planned yet is because running them would not be fair to the other home nations still unable to compete.

    I don’t understand these reactions. Although many staff have had to be furloughed, BS, like British Equestrian and the other governing bodies, has been working from the start on plans to get us back out and competing as soon as that’s safe for everyone, and allowed within the government guidelines.

    The rules for these shows are there to fit in with those requirements, and to prove to Sport England that we can have a socially distant and safe sport, and they mean we can get back to what we love doing.

    I’ve jumped my two mares in the past 10 days for the first time since lockdown started. One can be prone to being difficult to load but she towed me up the ramp in trot, she was so keen to go out, and then pinged her fences as if they were a foot higher. The other, who had been getting moodier and moodier with no competitions on, put not a foot wrong in her lesson, jumping possibly better than she ever has.

    I enjoyed it as much as they did; I jump because I love it, and I’ve missed it. If it is viable for show centres to run shows under these conditions – and I hope it is – I’ll be there. Not only do the centres need to be supported or we’ll lose them, but the jumping is the fun part.

    Continues below…

    I enjoy the social aspect of shows too, and it’s nice to sit in the sun and watch other people jump, and catch up with people you haven’t seen since the last show (a long time ago now) but I go to jump my horses, and have that two minutes in the ring, which we’ll still have, whatever the show is.

    It’s also possible the measures will have other benefits. Having to pre-enter will help shows know who’s coming, and having an exact time to be on your horse will (hopefully) help late, disorganised people like me actually get their backsides in gear and get to the show on time.

    Plus, as someone who most often goes to shows on her own, there’s one rule in particular that sounds a huge improvement. Having someone in the warm-up to adjust the fences? What could possibly be bad about that?

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