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‘Welcome news’: affiliated dressage shows to restart

Affiliated dressage is set to return to Britain on 1 July.

British Dressage (BD) competitions will return in England from next month, while an announcement of the restart date for Scotland and Wales is pending further updates from their respective governments.

Entries will open tomorrow (17 June) and must be made online. The calendar is in the process of being updated.

Judges will either work with a writer from their own bubble, or will score themselves and provide feedback at the end.

The restart date coincides with the start of BD’s winter qualification period and the organisation is anticipating a further relaxation of rules from 4 July onwards, which it hopes will include the use of indoor facilities for sport and recreation.

“We have been consulting with our organisers over the past few weeks to inform this process and have received a very positive response, with a good proportion ready to resume competitions at the earliest opportunity,” said a BD spokesman.

“However, it is important to stress that venues will only return to competitive action when they are confident that they can fully comply with the social distancing, public health and hygiene measures required to safely operate within government restrictions.

The spokesman adds BD has been in consulting with judges, more than three-quarters of whom have indicated they are “happy to make an immediate return”.

“Three minutes have been added to each test time to allow effective social distancing for competitors and to provide additional time for judges to complete test sheets,” he said.

It is a condition of entry that competitors adhere to government restrictions, which will be updated based on the latest advice over the next two weeks.

“As part of our resumption plans, we have taken the decision to allow a three-month amnesty on the requirement for horses to have an equine influenza booster within six months of competing,” said the spokesman, adding the 12-month annual booster requirement still applies.

“We appreciate that a number of veterinary surgeons were only able to carry out emergency work during lockdown, so this will allow a transitionary period from 1 July through to 30 September for members to get their horse vaccinations up to date.”

BD chief executive Jason Brautigam thanked everyone involved and the BD membership for their continued support.

“After 15 weeks of lockdown, we’re truly delighted that competitions can make a return from 1 July,” he said.

“It has been a difficult period for all of those involved in dressage, so I’m sure this news will be welcomed by everyone.

“While members have been able to train again during June, competing is ultimately what sport is all about, so it will be good to finally get shows back up and running.

“Competitions will have a different look and feel as we all adapt to the restrictions we need to put in place, but our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of all participants.”

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Mr Brautigam added that it may take a while for the fixture calendar to “build back up to full strength” as circumstances differ at each venue.

“But our IT systems will provide the latest live information so members should check on the status of shows regularly over coming weeks,” he said.

“The coming weeks will require some flexibility and understanding, and there will no doubt be further changes as the situation continues to evolve, especially in Scotland and Wales, but we’re confident that our plans are robust, achievable and will keep members as safe as possible.

“We look forward to the first horses going down the centre line on 1 July.”

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