It has been a long eight weeks since the horrible realization that our world was going to stop due to a global pandemic. The officials are beginning to slowly allow our world to start opening up again and that includes horse competitions. We have summarized the rules and guidelines put in place for competitions in the United States by the United States Equestrian Federation.
Here are the direct links to recommendations and regulations regarding mass gatherings in the context of COVID-19.
Summary of USEF COVID-19 Action Plan
Participants – A Participants includes owners, lessees, riders, athletes, parents, vaulters, drivers, trainers, coaches, grooms, longeurs, navigators, personal care assistants (PCAs), and any other required support personnel/staff that are essential for providing care to the horses and/or the athletes.
Mandatory Requirements for Participants
• The participant must provide emergency contact information and execute and updated Waiver and Release of Liability, Assumption of Risk and Indemnity Agreement.
• Participants are required to self-monitor their temperature once daily prior to entering the competition grounds. Anyone with a temperature below 99.5° F (37.5° C) may enter the facility.
• Anyone who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last two weeks, cannot enter the competition grounds.
• Participants are required to wear a facemask or face covering when not mounted on a horse. A participant may choose to wear a facemask or face covering when mounted on a horse and cannot be disqualified or penalized for doing so while competing.
• Comply with social distancing requirements at all times while on the competition grounds.
• Wash hands often and adhere to other sanitization practices throughout the day.
Recommended Best Practices for Participants
• Provide non-contact thermometers (e.g., temporal or infrared) to staff and require temperature monitoring throughout the day.
• Limit access to stabling area and competition grounds to essential personnel only; discourage multiple family members from accompanying owners and riders.
• Consider having riders meet their horses at the competition or schooling areas or other pre-designated area to further limit contact in the stabling area.
• Consider the use of mounting blocks to avoid one-on-one contact between riders and grooms/assistants.
• Provide adequate food and beverage supplies for your barn and your support staff for the duration of the competition to avoid unnecessary community exposure.
• Provide hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, and other PPE deemed necessary to your barn staff and other personnel and encourage them to use these items on a regular basis.
• Do not mix equipment (tack, grooming supplies, lead shanks, etc.) and sanitize between each use.
• Regularly sanitize bikes/motorbikes/golf carts/car & truck door handles, stable doors, bucket handles, light switches, etc., and equipment including tack, grooming, feeding, stall cleaning materials, etc.
• Schedule competition days (ride times, schooling times, etc.) as efficiently as possible to minimize time spent on the competition grounds each day.
Other Considerations and Best Practice Instructions to Competition Organizers
Regarding the Show Office:
• Strongly encourage all competitors to complete entry forms, in their entirety, including having all requisite memberships in place, prior to entering competition office.
• Strongly encourage that all entries, adds, scratches, feed & bedding orders, billing/invoicing are done electronically.
• Install clear plastic, glass or other type of protective shield/barrier in front of office staff.
• Provide hand sanitizer near the door.
• Provide an ‘in’ door and an ‘out’ door, if possible.
• Provide markers to delineate 6 feet spacing between people in the office and in any waiting lines (e.g., markers on floor).
• Prepare and email competitor bills as early as possible.
• Establish appointment times for checkout at the competition office.
Regarding Competition, Schooling and Exercise Area:
• Utilize posted orders of go and/or published ride times including online orders of go and ride times.
• At venues with multiple competition areas, consider designating one area as primary where assigned times and/or orders of go take precedence.
• Consider scheduling course walks as necessary to comply with social distancing requirements (e.g., schedule small groups in separate sections).
• Utilize individual water bottles versus community water coolers.
• Limit and organize seating areas to comply with social distancing requirements.
• Restrict the number of people accompanying a horse to the competition area to those persons who are needed for safety or for achieving effective competition, but they all must comply with social distancing requirements.
Regarding Schooling and Exercise Area:
• Provide monitors to ensure compliance with requirements and best practices.
• Schooling jumps – Provide sanitizing items (spray bottles, wipes) at each competition arena and schooling/warm-up area and advise individuals to wear gloves while handling the jumps and to wipe down jump equipment after use.
• Determine equine/human capacity in relation to the area and restrict access to a limited number in order to maintain social distancing requirements.
• In classes where participants compete collectively, determine and communicate to participants, the maximum number of horses permitted in each competition area at one time based on the size of the competition areas and social distancing requirements.
• Communicate with participants if classes will be divided and held in one or more sections.
• Create a method of giving ribbons and trophies that reduces or eliminates hand-to-hand contact.