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From President Murray Kessler: Returning to Competitions After COVID-19

by US Equestrian Communications Department | May 12, 2020, 3:20 PM EST

Dear USEF Members,

Here we go! About 50% of states have begun their phased reopening and several competitions are already on the new Calendar. This works well with the USEF date of June 1 for reinstatement of points. While many events and championships have been canceled, USEF has approved over 100 rule modifications to assist competition organizers with rescheduling events. We have also put in place strict competition protocols and resources to help make them as safe as possible under the circumstances. That’s the good news since we fully understand the economic hardship so many in our industry have suffered and recognize the need for them to get back to work.

I want to emphasize that while this will come as relief to many of you, a return to competition is not risk-free. As a community, we all need to be vigilant. The objective is not only to reopen competitions, but also to keep them open. If we don’t individually and collectively do our part, we could find ourselves shut down again. None of us wants that. My personal experience with the company I oversee as CEO has provided me good insight. We have been able to keep 38 essential facilities worldwide running without interruption through the height of the COVID-19 crisis. It hasn’t been easy. But we were able to do it because everyone is doing their part. So here are a few tips as you think about returning to competition.

  1. If you are uncomfortable and feel the risk is too high – Don’t show!
  2. If you are a high-risk individual – Don’t show!
  3. If you have any symptoms at all (flu, fever, allergy, cough, etc…) – Don’t show!
  4. If you become aware that you have come in “unprotected” contact with someone who has tested positive – Don’t show for 14 days!
  5. If you test positive, do not return to showing until your symptoms are gone for 14 days and you have been cleared by your health provider, and notify anyone you have been in contact with so they don’t show for 14 days!
  6. If none of the above applies, go show, but strictly follow the protocols established by USEF, federal, state and county law, and other Competition Organizer requirements. For example, whenever you are on the grounds of a competition, you will need to wear a mask unless you are up on horseback. You will need to maintain social distancing. Additionally, you should continue to frequently wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.

Separately, revised guidelines for horse of the year awards, qualifying and selection will continue to be published as they are finalized. Your working committees have been hard at work coming up with new procedures that are as fair as possible under the circumstances.

These are unprecedented times which have been difficult on all of us. For some, it has been more than difficult. They have lost their lives or lost the lives of their loved ones. Others have suffered deep economic hardship. Our hearts go out to them. Please keep this in mind when you return to showing. We must all count on each other to do the right thing.

I am confident our equine community will rise to the occasion.

Best of luck as you return to the competition ring. But, more importantly, stay safe.

Murray S. Kessler

President