Green light for more equestrian activity to resume in Scotland and Wales

  • Organised competition and training is now able to widely resume in Scotland and Wales as the nations move a step closer towards normality.

    A number of Covid-19 restrictions, including rules on travel and outdoor sport, were eased on Monday (26 April) in both nations, paving the way for more organised competition and training to resume.

    British Dressage (BD) will resume in Wales this week, for the first time since December 2020, and Scotland’s legal requirement to stay within your local authority area to compete and train has also been lifted. This opens up the training and competition network fully for members.

    Restrictions on sporting activity for under-18s have been relaxed in Scotland for some time, while Wales’ rules have permitted travel into England prior to this latest easing of restrictions. Senior British Showjumping (BS) shows now have resumed in Scotland.

    BD chief executive Jason Brautigam said it “really feels” like we’re getting closer to resuming a normal calendar of events for all BD members.

    “It’s been a long time coming, but it’s now looking promising that by mid-May we should have the full use of indoor and outdoor facilities – and hopefully even spectators will be able to return,” he added.

    “We appreciate that members living in Scotland, Wales and on the islands have had limited or no competition so far this year and the [BD] board had no hesitation in supporting our proposal to offer a further month’s horse extension to those affected, in recognition for their continued loyalty and patience. This takes the value of the horse registration concessions offered to date to almost £400,000.

    “The team are getting the arrangements in place and you should see the extension against your horse’s record in the next two weeks.”

    The Welsh Sport Association has also said that indoor activity should be able to get back underway from 3 May onwards, brought forward by two weeks from 17 May. This would enable indoor competitions and training for groups of up to 15 people to resume in Wales, and only individuals within the field of play would count towards the total number.

    But while there is cause for celebration, the restrictions mean some other equestrian events are unable to go ahead.

    Both the Scottish and Welsh point-to-point seasons have been thwarted by restrictions and pandemic uncertainty. The last point-to-point fixture in Wales was the Carmarthenshire in 2019, and the nation was due to have two fixtures at Bonvilston (8 & 22 May), where Covid restrictions and dry weather with no forecast rain resulted in cancellation. The Pembrokeshire was also due to take place at Trecoed (5 June), which was ready to run and had provision in place to water, but was forced to cancel owing to Government restrictions.

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    An update from the Point-to-Point Authority added Scottish fixtures “finally had to give up trying to stage a meeting as the risk had become huge with no confidence that the obstacles could be overcome”. The Zetland with Cleveland at Witton Castle in Co. Durham has come forward a week to 2 May, to help bridge the gap for those in the north.

    British Eventing’s (BE) Howick (18-19 May) and Chepstow at Howick (3-4 July) fixtures have both been cancelled owing to Covid restrictions and ongoing uncertainty respectively.

    “As Howick is in Wales, the event is subject to different Covid regulations to English events,” said a statement from the organisers issued by BE.

    “We have today received confirmation from the relevant authorities that our May event will not be able to run under the current and emerging regulations in Wales and with a heavy heart we have made the decision to cancel this event.

    “It is clear that the Welsh Government is being more cautious and planning test events before allowing large events and due to this ongoing uncertainty we have taken the decision to also cancel Chepstow at Howick.”

    The organisers added the decision was “not taken lightly” and apologised for any disappointment.

    “The timing of this decision will enable our fabulous volunteers to plan alternative arrangements, our suppliers the chance of seeking alternative English venues and other events in England to offer additional/alternative provision for competitors,” it added.

    “We appreciate your understanding in balancing a myriad number of considerations to reach the most appropriate decision for all stakeholders.

    “We very much hope that 2022 will see the return of our events and we can look forward to welcoming you back to Wales and our horse trials.”

    Llanymynech (15-16 May), on the Shropshire side of the Welsh border, is going ahead.

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