Coronavirus update: 18/03/20

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Monday’s UK Government briefing on the coronavirus pandemic provided strong recommendations around social distancing, non-essential travel and public gatherings, which will have a direct impact on the equestrian industry. As the umbrella national governing body in Great Britain, the British Equestrian Federation continues to support its member bodies as they implement decisions based on this latest government advice, in addition to working to safeguard the health and wellbeing of stakeholders and staff in this public health emergency.

As a Federation, we are advising the cessation of all organised equine activity in a bid to support the government recommendations. We have a role to play in helping with the management and control of the coronavirus in the interests of public health, but also to negate any calls on our health and emergency services.

Interim Chairman Malcolm Wharton commented: “There have been some very difficult decisions taken over recent days, but collectively we need to act with responsibility towards the containment and control of the virus. It’s easy to look at our own situations, but this pandemic affects all of us and we must act in the best interests of society. We will continue to monitor the situation closely with our international and national partners at government and member body level, and keep the equine community updated with any developments. These are unprecedented times for us all, but by working collectively, we can insure the industry remains strong and viable. Stay safe everyone.”

Organised equestrian activity

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has advised on the cancellation of international fixtures, while a number of our member bodies have already taken decisions on their organised events and advice for members. This is the situation as of 18 March:

  • British Dressage and British Showjumping – All national activities will cease with immediate effect, with all regional activities such as competitions, training, coaching and exams that are currently scheduled permitted to continue until close of business on Thursday 19 March. This will be active for the next four weeks, up to and including 16 April.
  • British Eventing – All events and training cancelled with immediate effect.
  • Pony Club – All centrally organised events have been cancelled and activities ceased with immediate effect.
  • British Riding Clubs – Issued a strong recommendation that no riding club activities of any nature should take place up to and including 30 June. Their Novice Winter Championships (March), Intermediate Winter Championships (April), Festival of the Horse Championships (May) and Horse Trials Championships (August) have all been cancelled.
  • British Vaulting – No vaulting competitions will take place until further notice.
  • Endurance GB – All rides cancelled with immediate effect.
  • British Carriagedriving – Training clinics on 21 March cancelled.
  • UK Polocrosse Association – All communal polocrosse activity, including training, suspended until further notice.
  • Riding for the Disabled Association – Advising RDA groups to close and suspend activity. There may be a few exceptions where groups feel they can adhere to the strict guidelines on social distancing. All Regional Qualifiers and the National Championships have been cancelled.
  • British Horse Society – Cancelling or postponing all BHS Assessments, CPD activity, safeguarding and first aid courses until the end of June 2020. 
  • British Grooms Association – Advice for freelance and/or self-employed grooms issued.

As more general advice, we would advise those who are able to continue to enjoy their horses do so within the Government requirements. However, planning for a period of self-isolation or enforced lockdown should be considered if you haven’t already done so. Having alternative arrangements in place if you have a horse to care for, ordering adequate supplies in and organising any essential vet or farrier visits would be prudent measures at this stage.

World Class Programme and Olympic/Paralympic preparations

While competitions will be impacted for an underdetermined period, our elite horse and rider combinations will continue their training plans towards selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We will work and liaise with the FEI on any advice surrounding athlete qualifications, but the messaging from the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee and Tokyo Organising committee is very much to continue to prepare. We continue to liaise closely with our colleagues at the British Olympic Association, ParalympicsGB and UK Sport, too.

Performance Director Richard Waygood commented: “Our riders are professional and capable of dealing with any given situation. Taking competitions away will undoubtedly make preparations more difficult, but this outbreak is global and we all have a role to play in its management. We’ll work with the riders, utilising technology where possible, to manage preparations with the government guidance and using the expertise in the National Lottery funded UK Sport World Class Programme.”

British Equestrian Federation offices

The BEF headquarters will continue to function as normal, but with our staff working from home using cloud-based technologies, so please contact us as normal via email or phone.