US Festival of Champions of 14 National Dressage Titles to Go On, US Federation Pledges Every Effort to Prevent Coronavirus Infections
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
The United States Festival of Champions of 14 national dressage championships from Grand Prix to Ponies and young horses will go ahead in the Chicago area community of Wayne later this month.
The U.S. Equestrian Federation made clear Thursday its intention to proceed with the annual championships at Lamplight Equestrian Center Aug. 18-23, stressing every effort to minimize the possibility of coronavirus infections.
Almost 200 rider and horse combinations had been invited to the festival, the umbrella American event of the championships of every horse sport level from Grand Prix to Ponies, plus young horse divisions and two Dressage Seat Medal Finals.
The show grounds will be completely sanitized before the festival following more than two months of hunter/jumper competitions without spectators and strict anti-virus protocols that have been successful in preventing any incidents.
Social media posts indicate strong support for the dressage festival that will mark the return of championship competition in the United States five months after horse sports were closed down initially in mid-March.
The North American Youth Championships of dressage juniors and young riders scheduled to be held this week at Traverse City, Michigan was canceled early in the pandemic when restrictions were imposed on travel between Canada and the United States.
Concerns about the festival surfaced with cancellation of the U.S. Pony Finals that were scheduled for the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington this week but called off due to some infections at a horse show at the same venue days earlier. Some other major hunter/jumper shows have since been canceled as well as the American Eventing Championships set for Lexington at the end of this month.
The high performance competition calendar from the Olympics in Tokyo to the jumping Nations Cup final in Barcelona, Spain has been decimated for this year.
Lamplight Equestrian Center is located in the semi-rural area of Wayne, about 35 miles/56 km west of Chicago and has been the home of the festival in recent years. The area has not experienced a significant outbreak of coronavirus cases and is not subject to 14 days of self-quarantine required of travelers from several states to the city of Chicago.
A USEF spokesperson said that the HITS organization that operates Lamplight has promised thorough sanitization of the show grounds with a complete break from the hunter/jumper events to dressage.
Stabling for the festival is being arranged to enable safe distances between different groups of riders, grooms and other connections. There will be limits on the size of families and friends.
Face masks, social distancing and other measures that have become the new normal will be enforced.
The spokesperson said that experience at dressage competitions that resumed across much of the country at the beginning of June showed that participants and spectators where permitted followed protocols required by the USEF and local authorities.
The media, which the state of Kentucky had banned from Lexington shows, would be permitted to cover the Lamplight festival.