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More equestrian sports outline restart plans: sport in Wales and Scotland remains limited

Equestrian sporting bodies across England are gearing up for more competition to return as lockdown eases, but activity in Scotland and Wales remains more limited.

In an update on Friday (19 June) British Equestrian (BEF) said training and competition plans “are in motion” for many of its member bodies in England but government updates for Scotland and Wales have brought “limited change” to lockdown restrictions.

In England, British Showjumping competition started on 15 June, while British Dressage training and online competition is taking place, with live competition planned to resume from 1 July. British Riding Clubs is running training activity and will restart competitions on 1 July.

British Eventing, which pushed back its proposed start from 4 July, was given the green light on Friday from Sport England and the government’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for competition to restart, with an update expected today (22 June) with a competition start date.

Pony Club training and small rallies are under way, and the anticipated start date for inter-branch and local-level competition is 4 July. Endurance GB is holding training and non-competitive events, and awaiting further government updates concerning a hoped-for July restart for larger non-competitive events and competitions. The Mounted Games Association of Great British, which is not holding training at present, is “working on” a mid-July return of competition.

The first British Carriage Driving national competition is planned for 14-16 August, and the UK Polocrosse Association is hoping small competitions will resume “soon”, with training under way.

Most Riding for the Disabled’s (RDA) centres remain closed, as with social distancing requirements prevent the charity from resuming activities. The target is to have 20% of RDA groups operating by the end of September, and 60% by the end of the year.

British Equestrian Vaulting has resumed limited one-to-one training and is awaiting further government guidance on amateur team sports before before competition can resume. British Reining activity remains suspended with no update, and the Showing Council is working on an operational blueprint for the resumption of competition under government guidance.

BEF chairman Malcolm Wharton said member bodies have been working hard behind the scenes to get their disciplines ready to resume, but added there are a “number of challenges” to overcome to make competition safe for all.

“The nature of each sport means some will be in a position to resume sooner than others, which I’m certain will be frustrating for competitors. However please understand your governing body is working on these plans with your safety in mind, and it’s crucial that all decisions are right and meet government requirements,” he said.

“Social distancing and gathering numbers are the main issues faced by equestrian sports, and we’re working with the member Bodies and DCMS, Sport England and the Sport and Recreation Alliance to make the necessary arrangements.

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He added information is “exchanging daily” between the parties and it is hoped a green light will be given soon for vaulting, endurance, mounted games and polocrosse to restart, which are classed as team sports due to multiple participants and support staff.

In Scotland, first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Thursday (18 June) the country would move into phase two of its roadmap out of lockdown, meaning three households can now meet outdoors. This allows professional coaches to deliver training to a maximum of two households per day. Horsescotland and the British Horse Society are working on guidance, which has been submitted for approval from Sportscotland and the government.

In Wales it was announced on Friday that sporting activity can resume but limited to training only, with travel restricted to five miles and activity only permitted with members of the same household or one additional household. The announcement indicated the “stay local” requirement will be lifted on 6 July when further information is released, with a review due on 9 July.

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