The Showjumping world and Covid-19

By Pâmela Oliveira

        We all had plans for 2020, however COVID-19 has put most of them on hold. It has devastated the world, and changed everyone's lives. Wearing masks and social distancing, the “new normal” as some call it, has been hard to adjust to. What some people have failed to realize is that we can't participate in large social gatherings, like before, until a vaccine is created and released to the public.

        When COVID-19 started to spread around the world everything stopped, including sports. Athletes had to find new and innovative ways to train at home. I personally decided to take that time to work on my overall fitness, to also focus on my mental game, to meditate more and learn to become more relaxed. During this time soccer matches stopped happening, tennis games were cancelled, most sports competitions were cancelled. However, during this time show jumping competitions around the world were still happening.     

        Showjumping has been called out many times this year for not acknowledging world-wide problems and movements. The showjumping community tends to live in a bubble: everyone is happy and everything is perfect. For that reason, many shows have decided to keep allowing participants to compete in the middle of a global pandemic. Now, people are paying for such reckless behavior. Competitors in the Kentucky horse show which would compete from the 30th of september to the 3rd of october, for instance, tested for COVID and more than 30% of the tests came out positive. The Kentucky horse show is one of the most awaited horse competitions every year. Its challenging course and incredible setup attract people from all over the United States. After its cancellation the competition did not release an official statement but right after it was revealed that the show was canceled USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) released a statement cancelling USEF Pony Finals. 

        In general there has been a trend in the horse world to ignore Covid 19, shows keeped on happening during the pandemic and shows are still happening right now in the US, like the Split Rock Jumping Tour, which is taking place right now in Columbus Ohio. Adding to that rules are set in place for social distancing and wearing masks, however after seeing social media posts of people who are attending these competitions it is clear that the rules are not being enforced. As we can see that participants are not wearing masks coming in close proximity to each other.

        Shows should not need to be cancelled after the participants have gotten COVID, shows should have never opened during the pandemic in the first place. Eventually horse shows should open again, but show organizers should carefully analyze the COVID-19 data in their cities and analyze whether they should do the competition or postpone it.  We should never put each other's lives at risk.

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