‘Don’t break our sport’: plea for everyone to abide by new rules *H&H Plus*

  • Competition riders are being warned they must stick to the Covid-19 rules for equestrian sport to be allowed to take place after some individuals have been seen on social media discussing ways to flout the restrictions. H&H finds out more...

    Riders must adhere to rules governing post-lockdown events or risk losing their sport in the immediate future.

    Governing bodies have reminded competitors that permission was granted for equestrian sports to resume on the basis of detailed plans submitted to the government.

    These plans included details of the social distancing and other protective measures taken to mitigate any possible spread of the virus and keep all participants as safe as possible.

    British Eventing (BE) chief executive Jude Matthews told H&H riders must be responsible.

    “We’re so privileged to have got the go-ahead, before some other sports, but the key message is: we have to stick to the rules,” she said. “We’re not trying to be draconian or spoil people’s fun; agree with them or not, the rules are there to keep the sport running.”

    BE rules include a limit on the number of people who can attend events, as well as measures such as printing numbers at home and paying start fees online. But Ms Matthews said she has seen social media discussions on how to flout some of the measures.

    “People have been saying they’ll smuggle extra people in, or just turn up,” she said. “But we have to be responsible. It is going to be different, but we have to do what we can to secure the immediate future of our sport.

    “We’re all in this together — don’t break our sport.”

    Numbers of people are also limited in other disciplines. The showjumping rules include the fact all entries must be online in advance, and riders are given time slots in which to jump, while entrants are being checked in on the gate. No grooms or helpers are allowed in the warm-up, and a cool-down area must be provided.

    As some of the changes implemented in dressage, there will be no scoreboards and test sheets will be scanned or posted after the event, and riders may be asked to wait in their cars or lorries between tests.

    A British Equestrian (BEF) spokesman agreed, saying the successful resumption of sport is a team effort, involving everyone from governing bodies to officials, and from organisers to riders.

    “If we want to have a sport at the moment, we have to stick to the guidelines,” she told H&H.

    “The approval was given on the basis of the plans submitted, and we all have to play our part to make it work.

    “We will be under a microscope, in different areas; environmental health, local authorities, police could turn up. Everyone in the equestrian community has to play their part to make it work.”

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