As the coronavirus continues its relentless march across the planet, the horse industry has not been spared the disruptions. The latest cancellations of horse shows are hardly not surprising given the massive crowds who typically attend and spectate in close quarters. Asia Horse Week/Longines Masters of Hong Kong CSI5* was the first to cancel in mid-February; here is a current list of what is postponed or cancelled, and venues that are being proactive and putting screening in place; check back often as the list is updated:
***UPDATE MARCH 17***
Commonwealth National Horse Show, April 15-19, at HITS Commonwealth Park in Culpeper, Virginia, has been cancelled. HITS Culpeper Summer Series at Commonwealth Park will now kick-off with the two-week July Series, July 1-12.
The Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, April 22-26 in Lexington, KY, has been cancelled.
The Longines Global Champions Tour & Global Champions League (April 2-4 in Miami, FL) has been postponed.
The USEA has suspended all recognized events from March 16-30 and issued a recommendation that all competitions be cancelled through mid-April.
***UPDATE MARCH 14***
The FEI, United States Equestrian and Las Vegas Events have announced the cancellation of the FEI World Cup Finals 2020 in Las Vegas.
The Winter Equestrian Festival and Adequan Global Dressage Festival at PBIEC in Wellington, Florida, will both continue to operate through March 15th without spectators, and will then cancel the final 2 weeks. At this point, the ESP Spring Series, from April 1-May 10, will run as scheduled with safety precautions but this may also change.
Competition at the Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, California, has wrapped up early. A statement read, “On a day when the Dow drops ten percent, the world faces a pandemic, and we see thunderstorms in the desert, it might just be time to declare victory. See you in the fall.”
The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) executive committee has cancelled the remainder of the 2019/2020 competition season.
The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit will close at the end of competition on Sunday, March 15. Beginning Friday, March 13, HITS Post Time Farm will be closed to the general public.
The Galway Downs International Horse Trials set for March 27-29 is cancelled.
Copper Meadows Horse Trials, March 14-15 in Ramona, California, has been cancelled due to both recent torrential rains and the ban on gatherings.
Tryon International Equestrian Center has cancelled the TIEC Welcome Series, The Fork at TIEC Eventing competition (April 2-6) The Tryon Block House Races Pre-Race Party on April 10 and Steeplechase on April 11, and
The Carolina Classic at TIEC Reining competition on May 6-10.
World Equestrian Center management has elected to close its Ohio venue after competition ends on Sunday, March 15. The facility will remain closed for the next week and management will continue to address the closures week by week.
The Del Mar National Horse Show, which was set to run April 14-May 3, has been cancelled.
The Gold Coast Finale I NAYC/YH, April 10-11 and the Gold Coast Finale II April 12 dressage events have been cancelled.
Palm Beach Masters Series events are continuing to run as scheduled. Organizers warn that individuals should not enter the venue if they have returned from China, Italy or South Korea within the last two weeks or if they have had known exposure to a person with a confirmed COVID-19 infection.
The Wellington Turf Tour intends to continue holding its series of horse shows with elevated sanitation procedures and strict adherence to CDC and other recommended guidelines. Turf Tour 11 (March 18-20) through the Turf Tour Finale (March 28) will carry on depending on approval from the USEF.
Here in Canada
According to Chris Pack, COO & Tournament Manager of Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC: “We have been in touch with the BC Health Officer and at this point they are not looking at any measures, but that could obviously change at any point, at which time they will reach back out to us. They are more concerned with indoor general assembly than outdoor activities at this point, but as this is a once-in-a-lifetime type of event, anything can be on the table, so we will have to see how everything unfolds globally. I think the first step would be eliminating the spectator side, but we will cross that bridge when the time comes.” **UPDATE** On March 12th, BC Public Health declared that all public or sporting events of 250 or more persons are not permitted for the next two weeks. “This doesn’t affect our outdoor tournaments at this point, but we will keep following their policies.” ~ Chris
EMG released a statement March 11th about events at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Palgrave, ON: “We take the health and safety of our athletes, competitors, officials, guests, tenants and employees seriously, as such we are actively monitoring the ongoing developments with regards to the coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s important to note that according to Health Canada, the risk to the general public is still low, but given the evolving situation, EMG and the Caledon Equestrian Park senior management which are coordinating efforts across our facility. Currently, at our office and venue we have already activated our plans, which include additional hand sanitizer stations around the property, adding hand-wash signage to all washrooms and conducting additional cleaning of common area “touch points,” such as doors and railings. In addition, we have established a reporting protocol with our tenants and contractors, should one of their employees be exposed to coronavirus, to ensure that we are able to contact Health Canada in a timely manner, receive guidance based on the situation and take action as required.”
Craig Collins of EMG remarked, “We certainly are preparing. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”
Organizers of the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, March 30 to April 4 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon, say they are monitoring the situation closely and are taking precautions, installing extensive hand-wash and hand-sanitizer units at all the events, and have upped the number of units at the fair. “The health and safety of our fairgoers is always a top priority. We are in contact with Manitoba Health on a regular basis for all our events. We have requested extra support and contact with them for our protocols based on the facts that they have immediate access to.”
***UPDATE*** At Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB, the Winter Farewell event in the Equi-Plex concluded early on March 13th. The Spring Welcome tournament scheduled from March 19-22 has also been cancelled. The Spruce Meadows FEI season does not start until June 4th, 12 weeks from now; currently, plans are to run the Summer Series in its entirety. Organizers stated, “We will maintain our consistent dialogue both internally and externally and as more information becomes available, we will continue to provide updates. This includes details about any possible calendar or schedule adjustments.”
Around the World:
The Dutch Masters, March 12-15 in S’-Hertogenbosch, NED, part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, has cancelled all competitions.
Saut Hermès CSI5*, scheduled to take place at the Grand Palais, March 20-22 in Paris, France, has been cancelled due to a French ministerial decree of prohibiting gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
The Longines Global Champions Tour Mexico event (March 26-29) has been postponed until October.
The CSI3*-W Cavaliada Warsaw, Poland, March 12-15 and the final of the FEI World Cup Jumping Central European League, has been cancelled.
Blue Hors CPEDI3*, March 14-17 in Randbøldal, Denmark, has been cancelled.
The Eventing Horse of the Year Show scheduled for March 14 in Hong Kong has been cancelled.
As the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs in North Rhine-Westphalia has issued a decree which prohibits events with more than 1,000 visitors, the CSI3* Signal Iduna Cup in Dortmund, Germany will limit entry to riders, officials, accredited journalists, influencers and employees. It will be livestreamed via ClipMyHorse.tv.
The Mediterranean Equestrian Tour in Oliva Nova, Spain, is closed to the public until further notice. The show is being live streamed on metoliva.com.
A number of shows in the hard-hit regions of Italy have been cancelled, including the 2020 Toscana Tour & Arezzo CSI (March 16-29) at the Arezzo Equestrian Centre. “Unfortunately, the situation in Italy is increasingly delicate and we want to respect the rules for the good of not only of our riders, but of the community. After April 2, we will try to give you new information about the upcoming events,” said organizers.
Other cancelled Italian events include Carovigno CEI (March 13-15), Gorla Minore CSI series (March 11 through April 12), Ornago CDI (March 19-29), Pratoni del Vivaro CCI (March 26-29), Montelibretti CCI (April 9-12), Fossalta di Portogruaro CVI (April 9-12),
The FEI Sports Forum, April 6-7 in Lausanne, SUI, has been moved online and will cover time-sensitive events only. Details of the online coverage have not yet been released.
Blenheim EquiSports produces events in San Juan Capistrano, Del Mar and Las Vegas, NV. This includes five FEI CSI events including a Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League event. ***UPDATE*** As of March 12th, Blenheim Equisports have cancelled their spring shows.
Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY, released a statement on March 12 that they are monitoring the COVID-19 situation carefully and working closely with New York State and local health authorities. “We will continue to follow updated recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), New York State and local authorities as it relates to public events. Please continue to send in your entries and stall deposits before the deadline on April 6, 2020, at 5 p.m. All deposits for stalls will be refunded if the Old Salem Farm management and health authorities feel it is necessary to cancel the show.”
In the western horse show world, cancellations include the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, March 3-22 in Houston, TX, and the American Quarter Horse Association Annual Convention, March 13-16 and the Arabian Breeders World Cup, April 8-11, both in Las Vegas, NV
Even in the horse racing world precautions are being taken. On March 10th, Woodbine Racetrack in Etobicoke, ON, added a coronavirus screening checkpoint for visitors and horsepeople at the east stable gate until further notice. And one unconfirmed report suggests that if the spread hasn’t slowed or reversed by end of the month, the Kentucky Derby will not be open to the public, only family and people directly connected to the horses.
The implications of this pandemic are far-reaching in the horse industry. Cancelling shows involves massive loss of revenue for organizers, critical prize money for competitors, plus the detrimental effects to the vendors, hotels, restaurants and other local tourism outlets which rely on the boost of visitors to the region. Also, with the Olympics (possibly) looming in July, many of the larger FEI-rated shows are qualifying events important to team or individual selection.