Great to be back: my first-hand experience of the new showjumping rules

  • Opinion

    I went to my first British Showjumping (BS) show run under the new anti-coronavirus rules last week, and I’m all for it.

    I’ve never been one to be overly prepared for competition in terms of the admin; I’m quite capable of planning to go, waking up in the morning to horizontal rain and thinking “nah”, or realising in the morning there’s a show on and making the decision to go on the spot. I’m not desperately keen on entering in advance as I like to jump one class and then decide based on that whether I want to do the next one or not, so that is not my usual style.

    But that’s what had to be done, so I did it. The day before the show, the times were released, and mine was 3.36pm. There was none of the usual “So, if the clear round finishes at 10am, and then there’s four classes before mine, it might be about 2pm, but it depends on how many people turn up”, followed by a rush to get there and then a long wait because the earlier classes were busy.

    I got there at about 2.50pm, walked the course, warmed up, jumped and left before 4pm. There have been plenty of times before that I’ve said “I’m only jumping one class so I’ll only be there an hour”, but this was the first time it had actually happened.

    There was someone on the gate checking my name was on the list, parking bays marked out with tape to ensure social distancing, course-walking was allowed as riders could keep a safe distance apart. I didn’t look at my watch to see what the time was when I went in, but going by the time I started warming up, it can’t have been more than a couple of minutes out.

    I wonder if more show centres will in future lean more towards entering in advance. Everyone knows where — and more importantly when — they are, and you can plan your day accordingly, rather than not mucking out in the morning because you don’t think you’ve got time, and then waiting for ages at the show when you could have been doing the stables.

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    If so, I’d hope there might be some leeway for those who do decide they want to enter another class, or jump again HC at the end, but in general, it seems a good idea for riders, venues and staff to know how many people are coming.

    And of course the very best bit, for someone who frequently goes to shows on her own, was that there was someone in the warm-up to do the jumps. No sneaking on to someone else’s warm-up, or having to get on and off 300 times as there’s no one else in the arena and you’re the last to go; just a lovely lady putting the fences exactly as everyone wanted them.

    Thank you so much to BS, the organisers and the venues for making this work, and so well. It was great to be back.

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