BD and BS update

The status of the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve in the UK and recent government briefings indicate that a longer period of lockdown is looking increasingly likely. Having individually reviewed the likely impact that this will have on the events calendar over the next two months, British Dressage (BD) and British Showjumping (BS) have taken the decision to extend the suspension period for all affiliated competitions, training and participation activities up to and including 31st May 2020.

Both organisations will continue to monitor developments and take action if there is a relaxation in restrictions which could enable activity to resume before this date, as long as it is safe to do so and within any parameters imposed by the government.  While we do not envisage an early resumption of competitions and events at this stage, due to ongoing social distancing measures, we will review this regularly in order to provide members with sufficient notice before any restart.

With calendars now suspended until the end of May, both BD and BS have taken action to minimise costs and limit operational overheads.  This includes reducing staffing levels significantly in both organisations, in accordance with the furloughing provisions of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  A skeleton team will remain in place across all departments in both organisations, with employees continuing to work remotely to maintain service and support levels to members.

BD and BS continue to ask all members and stakeholders to strictly adhere to the government guidance, particularly on avoiding non-essential travel and unnecessary social contact, to assist in halting the spread of the virus and protect frontline emergency services staff.  This includes advice on caring for your horse during the current crisis.

This does not include any provision for ‘virtual’ remote training or competitions and we do not support or endorse any such activity while we are still in the emergent phase of the outbreak.

The Government has not issued any restrictions on riding, but we would continue to urge all members to act responsibly and consider the associated risks carefully before determining whether it is necessary to ride.  The equestrian community fully supports the efforts of the health and emergency services – and we do not want to put further pressure on the NHS at this critical time, when they are already working at full capacity to combat the virus.

BD Chief Executive Jason Brautigam said; “The response we have received so far has been extremely positive, with a huge sense of solidarity from our members. Everyone has united in supporting the government restrictions and guidelines, and understanding about our decisions to cancel activity. Although an extension of our suspension period is very disappointing for all concerned, we hope that this clarification will give our stakeholders a clearer timeframe to manage their horses and competition aspirations.  Some hard decisions have had to be made, including those which will impact significantly on the BD team, but I continue to be proud of the efforts that everyone is making to protect the future of our organisation and sport.”

Iain Graham, BS Chief Executive, added; “Suspending our sport and activity for the next two months is without doubt the correct thing to do with the crisis that is affecting the country at the moment.  In taking this action it will also allow for members and stakeholders to plan accordingly whether it be around the welfare of their horses, businesses, family or personal situations as we adapt to life as it currently is.

On behalf of myself and the rest of the BS Board I would like to convey our thanks for the ongoing member, sponsor, stakeholder and staff support we have received; it has been quite overwhelming.  Also for the ongoing support of the government efforts that everyone is making to minimise the spread of the virus and the resulting pressure on the NHS”