Everyone must play a part in keeping safe at shows *H&H Plus*

  • Legendary Olympic showjumper Eric Lamaze spoke out about the low number of riders wearing masks at a show in Belgium the day before new rules were brought in by the country’s government. H&H finds out what protocols have been put in place by the FEI, how these differ from national shows in England and seeks advice from British Equestrian for riders who are planning to compete abroad...

    Keeping safe at shows is a joint responsibility; riders have been reminded, following concerns about protocols at international shows.

    Canadian showjumper Eric Lamaze raised issues on 24 July about a show he had been competing at in Lier, Belgium. He said he was disappointed by the low number of riders wearing masks while walking the course, adding it is the responsibility of riders and “especially” organisers and FEI to take precautions.

    “The riders have the most contact with other people and therefore should absolutely be wearing masks,” he said. “I understand everybody has the freedom to make that choice but why not take all the best precautions to stay safe and healthy so the sport we love will be able to go on without any incidents or issues?

    “If we are not careful, and taking all possible precautions, we will soon be back home riding in our own rings with no shows.”

    The Belgian equestrian federation told H&H masks are now mandatory at shows, except for riders on horses, following a government announcement on 25 July.

    Tanya Kyle, mother of 13-year-old British showjumper Tabitha who was competing in France on 23 to 26 July told H&H that everyone at the show was wearing masks while inside, except riders while competing, in line with the country’s government guidelines, and around 50% of supporters were wearing masks outside, but she said other protocols were not as strict as UK shows.

    “Anybody was allowed in the collecting ring, whereas in England there are restrictions on who is allowed in the collecting ring,” she said.

    “I was told before we went to the show there had been no cases of Covid-19 in the area. There were a huge number of people at the show, with five rings running national and international classes, so it will be interesting to hear if there is any sort of spike from that show.”

    An FEI spokesman told H&H the organisation’s first priority is protecting the health and welfare of the equestrian community and said we must all take responsibility and do everything necessary to minimise any “further negative effects” on our sport.

    The FEI launched a policy on 1 July for enhanced competition safety during the pandemic, which provides show organisers with a toolkit to plan events in compliance with regulations as well as recommendations from the World Health Organisation and the International Olympic Committee.

    “The policy includes an obligation for organisers to carry out a full risk assessment in advance of an event. Any event that fails to return the completed risk assessment and mitigation measures plan will be removed from the FEI calendar,” said a spokesman. “Each organiser has the responsibility to adhere to the measures imposed by domestic government and public health authorities in their country.

    “We can and we must ensure that we all work together and that we are mindful of our collective responsibility in this global pandemic. Maintaining a safe and healthy environment at events is key to ensuring competition continues, and while the FEI is leading on that, it is a joint responsibility that needs to be shared across our national federations, organising committees and all participants, including our athletes and their entourage.”

    A spokesman for British Equestrian told H&H riders competing abroad must keep up to date with government regulations in the countries they visit.

    “We’re advising riders to keep the safety and welfare of themselves, their grooms, owners and horses paramount, exercise extreme caution, comply with any protocols or guidance in place at shows – and be prepared for sudden change,” he said.

    You may also be interested in…