Plans for more sport as Wales and Scotland get under way *H&H Plus*

  • As equestrian competition gets underway in Scotland and Wales, H&H looks at the restrictions that are in place and what this means for show organisers, riders and their support teams...

    As more competition gets the nod, riders have been urged to support local venues to ease the economic impact of Covid-19.

    Under Scottish government guidance, outdoor competition can run without travel restrictions but those competing must operate in bubbles of up to five households, with a maximum of 15 people per bubble. Under Welsh government guidelines, competition may run, but is limited to 30 participants.

    Horsescotland chairman Grant Turnbull told H&H the Scottish government announcement on competition was a huge relief.

    “Our main driver for pushing for this is the sustainability of our event centres and riding schools, which have really been struggling.

    “If you don’t have events, and see regular competitors driving past to go south, it’s really demoralising,” he said. “The big block has been that sport has been classed as recreational. It’s only very recently the Scottish government has begun to understand the economic impact sport has on the nation and the need for it to resume.”

    Mr Turnbull added that disciplines’ governing bodies are looking at ways to implement guidance to allow competitions to resume “in the best interest of competitors, officials and venues”.

    “My message to riders is to get back out and enjoy competing but be mindful of the requirements, and please support your local venues,” he said.

    A British Eventing (BE) fixture is scheduled for 29 August at Kirriemuir, and is awaiting permission from the council. BE protocols include only one helper per horse (a groom or one owner). No other family member, friend or additional owner is allowed, except for parents or guardians of under-18 competitors.

    “We know the additional protocols for events in Scotland will be disappointing for some, but it is really important to remember that without these, and wider protocols, our sport would not be permitted to resume,” said BE CEO Jude Matthews.

    “Therefore, it is vital they are followed in order to keep everyone safe and our sport running. If we do not, our sport is at risk.”

    British showjumping CEO Iain Graham told H&H Scottish competition resumption had been a long time coming.

    “We need to work in bubbles of five; meaning five riders in the warm-up, then they will each go into the competition arena individually and once they’ve cleared the warm-up the next five enter,” he said. “The Scottish government has confirmed the personnel required to run the event don’t count in the bubble.”

    Mr Graham added that venues have the option to run training shows, at which results are not recorded, or competitions, but bubble limitations may make it hard to run viable shows.

    “We’ve offered a call with organisers to run through lessons learned from England,” he said. “English venues were very wary of how restrictions would work but feedback has been very positive; it’s different, but they’ve accepted this is how jumping has to be. It’s now about assuring Scottish organisers that it’s different but to embrace it and start getting people through the door.”

    British Dressage (BD) has produced specific guidance for Scottish organisers and riders, and competitions are able to get under way, once venues have completed a risk assessment and confirmed they can run under the protocols.

    In Wales BD restarted outdoors on 26 July, and from 10 August indoor competitions can run, but restricted to 30 people. Venues with indoor facilities must check with insurance providers and local authorities before they start activity.

    BD Wales regional development officer Vanessa Archer said feedback from venues and riders had been positive.

    “We’ve had good cooperation from organisers, and riders are grateful to be getting out again,” she said. “We’ve had to adapt the way we run shows; normally riders wait around for results whereas venues are now emailing them later to get people off site quicker, and riders are only allowed to bring one person with them.”

    While no showjumping is taking place in Wales owing to the restriction on numbers making it financially unviable for venues to run, Mr Graham said he is hopeful this will change shortly.

    BE fixtures that had been due to run in Wales were cancelled earlier in the season due to lockdown and there are currently no planned events.

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