Dressage Shows Easing Back On After Covid-19 Enforced Break of Over Two Months

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May 15, 2020

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Exactly two months ago, Eline Eckroth halted Dutelmi-SCF to complete the pair’s Intermediate 1 Freestyle in the Adequan Global Dressage Festival international arena that was the last CDI ride in the world before what was thought to be a break of about a month because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The absence of international dressage shows has been twice that already and will last at least another month.

National competitions have been approved for parts of the United States beginning June 5, but blanket restrictions in some countries have left the future competition calendars murky.

About 100 of the 200 international dressage competitions on the calendar for 2020 have been canceled. And the direct impact on championships will be felt into 2021.

The World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping in Las Vegas set for mid-April were the first championships to become victims. Not only were the championships canceled but spectators were denied saying farewell in an apt setting to Verdades, the partner of Laura Graves that became the only American combination ever to rank No. 1 in the world, Olympic, World Equestrian and Pan American Games medalist and three times World Cup reserve champion.

Then the Olympics were put off for a year and the dates in 2021 caused a problem for the European Championships next year that caused them to be canceled outright.

The World Young Horse Championships, North American Youth Championships, European Junior & Young Rider as well as European Pony Championships along with the trans-Atlantic Nations Cup series were dropped. So, too, was the World Equestrian Festival CDIO5* at Aachen, Germany that consists of Nations Cups in dressage, jumping, eventing, driving and vaulting to make it a mini-world championships, dropped for the first time in more than century except during wartime.

The Tokyo Olympic logo for the Games that will be called Tokyo 2020 though deferred for a year to 2021.

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The economic impact for the world has been devastating.

For equestrians, horse sales, the lifeblood for much of the industry, have dwindled as government-imposed restrictions as well as individual fears have throttled air travel, particularly international.

Vital segments of the horse show world–organizers, transportation companies, retail vendors, food services, farriers, trainers, riding schools, to name a few–have been decimated. Concerns have been expressed about the long-term effects.

Several hunter/jumper competitions approved by the USEF have been announced for the beginning of June in the U.S.–at Wellington, Florida; Tryon, North Carolina and Princeton, New Jersey. Two schooling shows in Wellington in May appear to be the first test of how to operate horse shows in the new environment of social distancing and virtual non-stop cleansing.

The first official dressage competition that dressage-news.com has found is Dressage at Alpine in Long Lake, Minnesota June 5-6, approved by the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

Anne Cizadlo, an organizer of the event, said they’re still working on how best to implement protocols required by the USEF such as social distancing in and around arenas and in stable areas. The show will have one competition ring and two warmup arenas. About 40 of the 80 stables at the private facility will be available for the show, and a limited number of competitors will be able to trailer in.

Two other shows were scheduled to start June 5–one in New Jersey was canceled when government officials were unable to decipher the state rules, and a competition in Wisconsin was awaiting local government approval.

The first post-pandemic international competition approved by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) is a CDI3* in Beloura, Portugal scheduled for June 19-21.

Mariakalnok, Hungary has been approved for a World Cup qualifier a week later that will be the first in the Central European League this year as five earlier events were canceled.

Germany, second only to the United States in the number of international dressage shows, is not allowing so-called “big events” until the end of August. But there is some confusion as to whether the number of people allowed to gather in one place is 100 or 1,000.

British Dressage has set July 4 as the date it hopes competitions can be resumed.