—June 8, 2020 (Courtesy of EqSol Equestrian Marketing)

What’s Happening in North America & Beyond

As schooling shows and sessions kicked into gear in Wellington, Florida and Erin, Ontario in late May, and news of horse shows shifted from cancellations to welcoming horses on site, the North American Riders Group (NARG) felt it was important to report on the status of competition in North America for summer 2020.

Note, this is not an evaluation of events. It is a report of competition trends past, present and future. This is valid as of the day of release, JUNE 8, 2020; however, as we all know, nothing is certain in these uncertain times. Status of some shows may change due to approvals by county, state, facility, and/or governing bodies.

JUNE: Nationally Speaking

Although the Canadian and Mexican borders are currently closed to non-essential travel, national horse shows have carefully returned with a long list of protocols to follow. After over two months of global cancelations, in the first week of June, Equestrian Sport Productions offered two weeks in Wellington and the Tryon International Equestrian Center began the first week of an entire summer of events, and a three-week series at HITS Lamplight is also underway. On June 1, 2020, HITS President & CEO Tom Struzzieri made an important plea to ALL who are returning to the field of play:

“… for any of you showing, whether with HITS or any of my peers who are working so hard to promote horse shows around the country, I implore you to follow the protocol. Whether you believe in the whole protocol implementation, and whether you believe it’s politically correct or not, in order for us to continue to run horse shows we must all be diligent in following the plan.”

JUNE: FEI Events

Notably, pre-COVID-19, there were 95 FEI 2* – 5* events on the global schedule for June, with 16 of those in North America. As of today there are 13 FEI 2* – 5* events on the calendar across the globe for the month of June, with five of those in North America – a 2* in Lexington, KY, two 2* events in Traverse City, MI, plus one 2* and one 3* in Tryon, NC. Other countries offering competitions are France, Spain, Poland, and Russia.

NARG is hopeful that venues such as Thunderbird and Angelstone in Canada and Leon in Mexico will host FEI events on the 2020 summer calendar; and looks forward to the return of Spruce Meadows, Upperville, The Hampton Classic and other top FEI events around the world in 2021.

NEW: FEI Policy for All Participants & Organizers

Although this is effective for all FEI Events held as of July 1, 2020, NARG strongly recommends that all who intend to participate in any upcoming FEI events review the recently released FEI Policy for Enhanced Competition Safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Based on currently accepted best practices by the World Health Organization (WHO) and US Center for Disease Control (CDC), the policy is to be used as a supplement to current domestic government and health authority guidelines. 

Specific to sport, the Policy & Risk Assessment Tools for ‘return to play’ include the FEI Policy, as well as WHO Risk Assessment for Sports, WHO Decision Tree, and WHO Considerations for sports federations and organizers when planning mass gatherings.

ACCORDING TO FEI POLICY: As a condition of their presence on the event venue, all persons attending an FEI Event are bound by the measures put into place by the OC under this Policy. Also, conducting and documenting the risk assessment via this Policy along with the National Federation is mandatory for show managers hosting FEI Events.

Longines Ranking Points

The FEI also released the Longines Rankings – Policy for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 that stated beginning on April 1, 2020, points earned in Longines Ranking competitions at events that take place during this period will continue to count and the maximum number of results that may count for each Athlete remains the best 30. However, the period during which Longines Ranking points remain valid will be prolonged by one month and will continue to be prolonged for an additional month with each new Ranking until the competition calendar returns to normal.

State of Affairs

NARG, as well as all who competed at the event, is aware of the groom who tested positive for COVID-19 during the May schooling show at WEF. Due to its contagious nature, we strongly urge all competitors to continue following the protocols and procedures in place. We commend ESP for their quick reaction in handling the situation.

With an ever-changing calendar in an unprecedented time, we are also hopeful that the fall Indoor shows – PNHS, WIHS and NHS – will continue working with the USEF and the FEI to work out safe options for these three long-standing events in 2020.

NARG is sorry to hear that Deeridge, the number one venue from our Winter Venue Report, and the global Longines Masters series, will both be off the competition calendar. The efforts made by these events are to be applauded.

We all look forward to the return of a full competition calendar, and horse show life as we once knew it. In the interim, please respect how each individual chooses to handle each situation. Together we can not only improve our sport but play a role in improving our world.

This article is credited to the North American Riders Group (NARG) and EqSol Equestrian Marketing. The original article is available on the NARG website.