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Showjumping on course to restart — and plans for more this summer

British Showjumping (BS) is working towards training shows’ resuming from 1 June in England – and competitive classes from 15 June.

In an update published yesterday (22 May), BS said that in response to the government guidance released on 11 May, it is looking at resuming activity next month.

Although plans could change in light of any revised government guidance, the idea is to allow training shows to run from 1 June. From 15 June to 5 July, category one, two, junior, club and just for schools shows could take place.

These would be subject to a number of measures to help control the spread of the virus, and comply with central guidance.

On the BS podcast yesterday, BS CEO Iain Graham said that as there is a clause in the government’s extensive document, published on 11 May, allowing sport to resume behind closed doors; with no spectators, or public, BS has been working on how shows could be run.

“We and British Dressage have this week submitted resumption plans to Sport England, and from a [British Equestrian] point, we’ll be submitting a plan that covers dressage, showjumping and cross-country; the three disciplines, and for Pony Club and riding club if they want to do those activities in that time, there’s a plan lodged that allows them to.”

Mr Graham said the federation has been warned final guidance from government, which would affect the restrictions that will have to apply, may only come on 1 June itself. But some measures have already been set out.

The full list of these is available online, and includes the fact riders will have to enter online, with time slots allocated, and should only travel to venues in their own region. The focus will be on social distancing, to protect all involved.

“Venues will have to have someone in the warm-up setting fences to riders’ requirements, to get round Sport England’s concern over shared equipment,” Mr Graham said, adding that classes will be overseen by one judge instead of two, and there will have to be more time allowed for that one person to do all that is necessary between horses.

“Some venues will find it easier than others; some are family-run so they’re all in one household, while bigger venues might have staff furloughed, and they want to wait to see a further road map, and know how many members will be ready to compete, before they bring them off that,” he said.

Mr Graham said he hopes the training shows, in three categories, should be able to run by the first weekend in June. Then, from 15 June, and if government guidance still allows it, more shows can run as above, although no multi-day or category three shows, or national qualifiers, will be held in June.

There will be no prize money at training shows, but organisers may refund entry fees to placed horses if they wish.

“But we have to bear in mind that the shows that start first will be doing so under significant restrictions, so viability will be compromised,” Mr Graham said.

“We as BS are keen to work with venues to find a way they and we can offer sport to members in an affordable way, but they need to set the entry fees to cover the cost of opening up the venue, and costs vary.

“Training show results will not go on horse records. We’re aware there’s a lot of very fresh horses, who haven’t been to an arena or away from home for a number of months.”

Guidance is being provided to organisers on first aid cover, and BS is making reusable face masks, which comply with the European barrier standard, for officials. Riders will also be allowed to ride with their faces covered.

“My plea to every rider, or person who comes with them, is to observe the restrictions and guidance,” Mr Graham said. “Restrictions might differ from venue to venue, but social distancing is the same for everyone.”

Mr Graham added that the distance restrictions and online entries allow BS to “track and trace”, and show it is managing any distance restrictions set by government.

He confirmed that for now, the plans only apply to England.

“But we’re waiting for Scotland’s plan on 28 May and to see the relaxation there as they come out of lockdown, and I’m sure Wales will follow shortly,” he said. “But we do have a process that covers the whole country and any member should be encouraged to contact us.”

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He added that there will be more government announcements on relaxations of measures.

“We’ve heard July might be a time people can go for a holiday, so we’d hope if they’re allowed a few days at the coast, that would mean other people could have a few days away in a horsebox, at a venue,” he said.

“We’re trying to work with organisers and the calendar, to make sure that when relaxations come in, we’re in a place to make use of them.”

Mr Graham said he is aware members are keen to know what will happen with major competitions and finals that have not yet been cancelled. He said BS is working with championship organisers to find out by what date they would have to cancel, and looking at qualification processes, to try to get people to finals.

“We’re working from the final backwards and while there’s hope these events will run, we’ll leave them in the calendar,” he said, adding that there may come a time when “lines have to be drawn” and championships called off.

A BS spokesman added: “We would like to say a big thank you to all of you for your support, patience and understanding during this difficult time and we hope that you are looking forward to the resumption of British Showjumping activity.”

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