Competitions return from 1 July

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  • Published: Mon, 15 Jun 2020 17:49 GMT

Following further advice from the government and Sport England, British Dressage is pleased to announce the resumption of affiliated competition activity in England, with effect from 1 July onwards. Further announcements from the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales are expected later this week and BD will update plans for those two regions accordingly.

This date coincides with the start of our winter qualification period, although competitor numbers will initially be restricted in order to meet the current government guidelines that allow groups of up to six individuals from different households to have contact at any one time. We are anticipating that there will be a further relaxation of restrictions with effect from 4 July onwards, which we hope will include the use of indoor facilities for sports and recreation purposes.

BD competitions, including standard and Quest shows, will recommence as per the calendar listed on our dedicated BD online fixtures portal, which is in the process of being updated over the next 48 hours, based on the latest information and feedback we have received from our venues.

We have been consulting with our organisers over the past few weeks to inform this process and have received a very positive response, with a good proportion ready to resume competitions at the earliest opportunity. However, it is important to stress that venues will only return to competitive action when they are confident that they can fully comply with the social distancing, public health and hygiene measures required to safely operate within government restrictions.

Competition entries, which will need to be made online, will open from 17 June onwards to provide at least two weeks’ lead time for venues to make the necessary adjustments and implement any changes required in order to meet the procedures and protocols we have put in place in our guidance to organisers.

We have also been in consultation with our judges, who will play a crucial part in the return to competition – and over three quarters have indicated that they are happy to make an immediate return to judging.  Taking their feedback and expressed preferences on board, judges will initially either officiate with a writer from their own household or support bubble, or score for themselves with comments and summary provided at the end of the test.  Three minutes have been added to each test time to allow effective social distancing for competitors and to provide additional time for judges to complete test sheets.

As a condition of entry, competitors are required to adhere to government restrictions and follow all guidance outlined in our COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures. These will be updated before competitions recommence, based on the updated government advice issued over the course of the next two weeks.

As part of our resumption plans, we have taken the decision to allow a three month amnesty on the requirement for horses to have an equine influenza booster within six months of competing. We appreciate that a number of veterinary surgeons were only able to carry out emergency work during lock down, so this will allow a transitionary period from 1 July through to 30 September for members to get their horse vaccinations up to date. However, the 12 month requirement still applies and any horse who missed their annual booster will need to restart the vaccination process, in accordance with BD rules. Further details can be found in our updated Member Q&A.

BD Chief Executive Jason Brautigam commented; “After 15 weeks of lockdown, we’re truly delighted that competitions can make a return from 1 July. It has been a difficult period for all of those involved in dressage, so I’m sure this news will be welcomed by everyone. While members have been able to train again during June, competing is ultimately what sport is all about, so it will be good to finally get shows back up and running.”

“Competitions will have a different look and feel as we all adapt to the restrictions we need to put in place, but our priority remains the safety and wellbeing of all participants. It may take a while for the fixture calendar to build back up to full strength, as circumstances will differ at each venue, but our IT systems will provide the latest live information so members should check on the status of shows regularly over coming weeks.”

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly to get us to this stage, as well as the members who have continued supporting us during the suspension period. The coming weeks will require some flexibility and understanding, and there will no doubt be further changes as the situation continues to evolve, especially in Scotland and Wales, but we’re confident that our plans are robust, achievable and will keep members as safe as possible. We look forward to the first horses going down the centreline on 1 July.”

We will provide further updates as soon as we receive more information from the UK government and the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales, so please continue to check our website and social media feeds for the latest news.

Helpful guidance:

Sport resumption – member Q&A

Will competitions definitely resume on 1 July?

As things stand we have a definitive green light to start our Winter Season as planned on 1 July in England.  This is of course subject to any changes to government restrictions.  At present sporting activity is restricted to groups of up to six individuals, so this will need to be managed carefully by venues to avoid additional contact or mixing of groups.

Entries will therefore be limited initially and schedules will have to be controlled through the course of the competition in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines. We are expecting that there will be further updates provided by the government on 25 June, as part of the next phase in the government’s recovery plan, with effect from 4 July onwards.

A number of venues are awaiting further news on the use of indoor facilities for sport and recreation purposes before they can commit to running their July fixtures as planned.  We hope to receive clarification on this point from Sport England in the coming days.

What about competitions in Scotland and Wales?

Further announcements are expected from the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales later this week, on 18 June.  Once we have information about how each nation aims to manage the resumption of sport we will update members accordingly.

Which shows will open for entries initially?

We anticipate that entries for shows that take place in July will open from 17 June onwards.  Please note that this will be subject to the venue being satisfied that they can comply with the necessary social distancing, public health and hygiene regulations, so please check the BD website regularly for updates on the status of competition fixtures.

How will I know what venues/shows are running?

The BD online competition portal has a live, updated calendar in place, based on the latest information we have from venues and organisers.  We’re working with our venues to keep it as current and up to date as possible and the detail will change as the situation evolves over coming days and weeks, so please do check this regularly.

Will new dates be added to the calendar to replace those shows who can’t run?

At present, we won’t be adding any new dates to the calendar as a transitionary period will be required to enable venues to return to activity.  As venues get back up and running and we have a period of stability we can then assess whether or not additional dates are required to meet competitor demand on a region by region basis.

What about long term fixture planning beyond the next two months?

The next group of fixtures meetings have taken place and long term fixture allocations are in the process of being finalised.  The Sport Operations task force groups continue to meet regularly to discuss the potential rescheduling of other elements of the competition calendar lost during the suspension period, such as Young Horse qualifiers and opportunities for Under 21 riders, which will be dependent on the further relaxation of restrictions.

When will all venues be open?

We can’t give a definitive date at this stage. Each venue will have different requirements and will need to conduct their own risk assessment to determine whether they can comply with the procedures and protocols required to run competitions.  They will only decide to go ahead when it is practical to do so, with the safety of all staff, officials and competitors of paramount consideration at all times.  Depending on individual circumstances and facilities available, it may take some venues longer to return to action than others. We will provide whatever support we can to organisers and venues to help them to resume, but respect those who are unable to do so at present.

Will qualifications for the winter period start as of 1 July as planned?

Yes, riders can start amassing qualifications from the start of the season as normal.  We acknowledge that this may mean that those competitors in Scotland and Wales may have a slightly shorter qualification period, but we envisage that there should still be ample time to secure any qualifications up to and including 31 December 2020.

Competitors are reminded that any full or part qualifications gained in the summer season just ending (from 1 December 2019 to 30 June 2020) may be carried over into the winter qualifying period.  We’re currently working on changes to our IT systems to accommodate this and further details will follow in due course.

Will my test be judged in the normal way?

Yes, all tests will continue to be judged and marked in accordance with our usual competition procedures, with scores awarded by movement.  However, some judges may not have the ability to officiate with writers, unless they are members of the same household or support bubble.  In such instances judges will score each movement as usual and where possible add comments with the summary comments at the end completed as normal.  Three minutes will be added to the total time allocated per test to allow sufficient time for judges to complete test sheets, so competitors will still receive feedback on their performance, even if it is not as comprehensive as normal.

What will the Equine Influenza vaccination requirements be?

All rules relating to Equine Influenza (EI) vaccinations will still remain in place once competition activity is able to resume.  However, we are aware that some vets will not have been able to administer six monthly ‘boosters’ during the suspension period.  We will therefore have a three month amnesty, effective from 1 July through to the 30 September 2020, to allow members time to bring their horse vaccinations up to date and encourage you to do so as soon as possible.

With horses not travelling during lockdown the risk of EI is currently low and is expected to remain so during the summer months, but it is vitally important that the requirement to have an EI vaccination within six months of competition is in place from 1 October 2020 onwards to provide adequate protection when competing in the autumn / winter.

Please note that this transition period applies to the six month requirement only; all annual vaccinations must still be kept up to date.  Unfortunately, if your horse has missed the 12 month vaccination renewal date, then you will need to restart the course of injections again before competing, in accordance with BD rules.

Will entry fees rise?

Our venues and organisers have had a tough period during lockdown and their income will have been hit significantly. Entry fees are set by each individual venue/organiser and not by British Dressage, although there may be small additional charges to accommodate extra postage costs for rosettes and test sheets.  While we do not expect any significant price rises, if you have any concerns about your local venue please let the Sport Operations team know.

What is BD planning to do about any membership and/or horse registration concessions?

Once we have confirmation from the respective governments about the next stage in easing lockdown restrictions, we will update members on our position regarding any concessions. We have been doing a great deal of financial modelling that enable us to support members, while still ensuring the long term financial stability of the organisation.