News & events
Equestrian Sport Set to Resume!
Following the announcement made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday 22nd February, which saw the Government share plans to ease the restrictions currently in place in England due to the Coronavirus pandemic, riders across the country are now hopeful for a return to competition and training over the coming months.
Sharing the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, the Prime Minister announced that there would be plans to modify the restrictions surrounding meeting people outdoors as early as 8th March, when it is also expected for children to return to schools.
A spokesman for the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) said the Prime Minister’s roadmap ‘would indicate’ that those equestrian centres and other businesses that provide education or training could start one-to-one sessions from 8th March, whilst it looks as though most other activity, such as sport or leisure, could resume from 29th March.
The spokesperson added that BEF member bodies are currently working on various ‘return to play’ plans, which are set to be released and outlined in more detail in the next few days.
In terms of the effect on live spectator sport, the roadmap indicates that spectators may be able to return to sporting events, with safety restrictions in place, from 17th May.
Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have presented slightly different plans. Residents in Wales remain under lockdown, with the situation being reviewed again on 12th March, whilst in Northern Ireland, lockdown has been extended to 1st April, with a review set to take place on 18th March.
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a planned route out of lockdown on 23rd February, and the BEF is currently working alongside Horsescotland and other member bodies to establish what the plan means for the equestrian industry. A preliminary date of 26th April has been set for a return to activity in Scotland.
Commenting on these newly proposed plans, British Equestrian Interim Chief Executive Iain Graham said:
‘While there is still detail to be clarified, we now have a strong indication from the Governments of England and Scotland of when we can return to activity, training, competing, and just enjoying our equestrian lives once again. It’s very welcome news and gives hope to many that an end is in sight, provided of course that we all play our part.
‘For our stakeholders in Wales and Northern Ireland, we’ll continue to push for the opening up of activity in a safe timeframe. Thank you to all of you in the equestrian community. It’s been a difficult 11 months with so many impacted, but now we can look to building our industry back and recover stronger than ever.’
A statement released by British Eventing (BE) announced that the organisation is currently finalising its plans to resume equestrian sport at all levels, whilst also continuing to work on a pathway for elite athletes targeting Badminton, Kentucky, and the Olympics. More details are expected to arrive soon.
British Dressage (BD) also announced that plans are currently underway to see organised competition and training resume in England on 29th March, with the possibility of competitors being allowed back to ‘stay away’ shows from 12th April.
The organisation has suggested that spectators may be able to return, and for travel to overseas competitions to resume, from 17th May, with ‘all shows, training and regional camps’ to resume ‘as normal’ from 21st June, in line with any face mask or social distancing measures that may be in place.
British Dressage Chief Executive Jason Brautigam said:
‘This is the news we’ve been waiting for and, although we still have to wait a number of weeks before organised sport can begin again, we do now at least have some indicative dates to enable us to plan ahead more effectively.
‘While we do, of course, have to proceed with a degree of caution, these roadmaps do provide a clearer path for us to follow from April onwards.
‘The team at BD HQ is now finalising an operational plan for the resumption of activity, based on the various dates and options we had already prepared. It’s now a case of pulling everything together with our organisers and venues to produce an achievable programme of fixtures that will benefit all members, whatever their level, goals, and aims are for the remainder of 2021.
‘I’m proud of the resilience shown by the dressage community over the past year, particularly during these long winter months – and it now feels that, thanks to a great deal of patience and fortitude, we can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.
‘We all still have a part to play to help achieve each step or phase in the relaxation of restrictions, but we can all share in renewed optimism that it’s now only a matter of weeks until we return to some semblance of normality.’