Relief mixed with confusion as Scottish equestrian sport resumes *H&H Plus*

  • The Scottish Government has agreed that outdoor sporting events can restart, but despite this some have been forced to cancel after not receiving approval from local authorities. H&H finds out more...

    Further relaxation of Scotland’s lockdown has given more horse sport the green light, as calls are made for a “uniform approach” from local authorities.

    Outdoor competition was given permission to return in Scotland this month (news, 13 August), and from 24 August, sporting events and activities could be attended by up to 30 people. But British Eventing said on 18 August that Kirriemuir Horse Trials (29 August) had been cancelled after organisers did not receive the “necessary permissions” from Angus Council to allow entries to open.

    A spokesman for Angus told H&H the council did not decline permission, but the “necessary protocols” from BE and Horsescotland were not received in time for the council to review and provide guidance.

    Horsescotland chairman Grant Turnbull told H&H the organisation was not involved in submitting anything directly to Angus Council, adding this is BE’s responsibility. A spokesman for BE told H&H the protocols were submitted to the council.

    “Our priority remains the safety of the wider population as well as competitors, and those running the event,” said the Angus Council spokesman.

    Kirriemuir organiser James Helyer told H&H they have earned little income since March.

    “It’s becoming serious. We were probably insulated against everything that could be slung at us, except for coronavirus,” he said. “The hunger is there; we’ve opened the cross-country course and we’ve been inundated.”

    Mr Helyer said there was ambiguity, with confusion on whether authorities were classing BE as “outdoor events” rather than sport, which must have protocols approved by governing bodies.

    Mr Turnbull agreed, saying there needs to be uniformity across local authorities as to how they view equestrian competition.

    “The block has been local authorities seeing competitions as public events which is not the case as any equestrian competition is behind closed doors,” he said.

    “Local authorities should be going on the guidance Horsescotland had approved from the Government via Sportscotland, but I think it’s still taking time to filter down.”

    After discussions with local authorities regarding the remaining two Scottish fixtures of 2020, British Eventing confirmed on Monday 24 August that Perth and Kinross Council had given the green light for Forgandenny (3) to run (19-20 September). At the time of publication, a decision was still to be made about Kirriemuir (3) on 3 October.

    Positive news for indoor venues

    After an announcement on 20 August that indoor sports courts may open, indoor arenas that did not meet the criteria to be classed as covered arenas can be used from 31 August.

    Mr Turnbull said the “devil is in the detail” and Horsescotland is waiting for clarification on what protocols will be in place that could affect competition use.

    Tom Myles Jnr, of Howe Equestrian Centre, Fife, which has not been allowed to use its indoor arenas, and was unable to run shows as it did not have a separate outdoor arena for a warm-up, told H&H he welcomed the news.

    “It’s a shame equestrian centres were put near the end of the list for reopening. The Government had their idea of what an indoor facility was and as far as they were concerned we were in that group,” he said.

    “We hope further relaxation of the guidelines will follow and allow the centre to get back to nearer normality.”

    You may also be interested in…