The COVID-19 crisis and resulting state and local mandates have forced many barns to close their doors to riders in attempts to social distance and flatten the curve. As a result, some horses are having a bit more downtime then they would normally see in the middle of the spring season. When the time comes when barns can open their doors once more and horses and riders can return to full work in anticipation of the restart of the competition season, what kinds of precautions should they take to make sure their horses come back to full fitness happy and healthy?
International eventer Buck Davidson Jr. is a firm believer in the importance of downtime for horses. “Just like an athlete, you can’t be “peak” all the time,” he said. “On a horse, you have to have fat so you have something to build into muscle. You have to let their bodies detox and let their feet go back to the way nature intended – then you can see where the horse is when he’s in nature and that usually gives you a pretty good idea of where they should go. It’s for their minds too. You can’t just keep shoving information at them because it would be information overload and they might go kind of nuts. Just like a kid on summer break, they have time to absorb everything they’ve learned and they usually come back smarter and stronger.”
“I would treat this the way you treat the beginning of the year,” Davidson said. “Normally after the fall season, the horse gets a little bit of a break and then you bring them back up over a couple of months. If they’ve had the break they would normally have in the fall, then you do it in the same way. If they’ve done more than their normal break you act accordingly. Every situation is different – every horse is different, every rider is different, and every break is different. Do what’s right for you and your horse.”
The FEI has published its Policy for Enhanced Competition Safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at assisting organizers and national federations with the safe resumption of international equestrian events in line with national and local restrictions.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has approved additional modifications to the qualification period for the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The AEC is scheduled to take place August 25-30, 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and the USEA is doing everything possible to ensure a safe and successful Championship, while also ensuring fair opportunities for all.
This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
This has been a difficult decision, but with the current pandemic situation at hand, we feel that this is the correct and ‘common sense’ direction to take. We are developing a plan to host a shorter, smaller, and more focused competition. We will be using state and local protocols to help guide us through this. Safety is paramount at Rebecca Farm, for both equine and human participants.