It's been nearly three months since USEF and most other sports completely shut down competitions, with the unrecognized sports shutting down shortly after. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic the world as we know, it has changed in every aspect. As the curve flattens, barns are reopening, lessons are starting back, and the bug to compete has arrived. Like everyone else, I have been experiencing horse show withdrawal symptoms and am ready to get back to the in-gate. That said, I’ve been watching the updates and changes that USEF is putting forth in their COVID 19 plan of action, and competing will have a different feel. I’ve outlined some of the biggest changes you may encounter at your next recognized horse show below.
The first thing you may notice when you enter your next recognized competition is that entry and check out will be online whenever possible, and a new updated liability release form with updated information including emergency contact information.
Show staff, volunteers & officials will be required to have their temperature taken, anyone with a temperature above 99.5 will not be permitted on the grounds. Staff, volunteers, and officials will also be supplied with and required to wear a mask or face covering anytime social distancing cannot be observed. You will likely observe staff sanitizing public areas like bathrooms, doors, and wash racks more frequently. In order to comply with social distancing, some shows may have to limit entries, schooling, stabling, or reconfigure stabling to ensure there is enough safe space for competitors. The arrival of your horse or trailer and departure from the grounds may be scheduled by show management to adhere to social distancing rules. You will also notice lots of signage.
Once you arrive at the show, you will be required to wear a mask or face covering when you are not riding. The show office will be reconfigured to keep the staff safe when you pick up your number. This may mean a walk-up window to the show office, plexiglass, or even a general pick up area for trainers to pick up packets with show numbers. Guests, spectators & individuals deemed non-essential to riding or showing will be prohibited from the grounds.
Riders are permitted to bring no more than three people with them to the ring to compete. They are allowing for a parent, a trainer, a groom & the rider. It would seem, for now, at least, the days of hanging out with your friends ringside watching trips and attending exhibitor parties are a thing of the past. Ribbons and prizes will no longer be handed out but will be available at a central location to allow for as little physical contact as possible. You will likely notice that there will be lots of signage encouraging social distancing and frequent hand washing as well as lists of COVID 19 symptoms.
Exhibitors are also encouraged to self monitor their temperature and stay home if you have a temperature above 99.5. For both exhibitors and trainers as well as show staff, officials, and volunteers it is mandatory to stay home if you experience symptoms of COVID19 and to self isolate for 2 weeks if you have tested positive for COVID19 or if you have been in contact with someone who has COVID19. The only exception is members of the healthcare industry who have been protected from the virus with appropriate PPE.
This list is far from complete; however, these are the biggest things I expect you will notice when you head out to your first competition. To read the entire action plan from USEF, Click HERE. I think we can all agree the first few shows back are going to offer a huge learning curve for everyone. Here are a few suggestions that may make things go a lot smoother.
Give yourself plenty of time to arrive and get settled.
Pay attention to the requests of show management.
Try to be extra patient with show staff, especially in the office.
Show management and staff are just trying to follow and enforce USEF’s plan of action. Show stewards are required to report to USEF all horse shows that do not follow USEF’s plan of action, and there will be consequences for show managers who do not enforce it.
Let's all stay safe, be patient, have fun & get back to the in-gate!