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British Dressage (BD) unveils its post-COVID-19 operational plan

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Girl competing in dressage competition

BD have made clear their plans to manage a phased return to dressage following the COVID-19 pandemic as restrictions are set to be eased over the coming weeks

With a flexible, three-phased approach to a return to sport for dressage enthusiasts, BD hope to manage the short, medium and long-term impact the pandemic will have on equestrian sport. While timescales can’t be guaranteed at this stage, and BD will continue to operate within public health guidelines and social distancing requirements, the plan provides a flexible approach that will adapt as the situation evolves, allowing riders to restart competition and training as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, due to a large portion of the qualifying period being lost throughout the spring, the remainder of the 2020 summer season has been abandoned. Here’s a list of fixtures that have been cancelled in 2020…

  • Shearwater Young Horse and Pony qualifiers and semi-finals
  • Para Home International, BD Youth Inter Regional and BD Youth Home International
  • all remaining Premier League fixtures
  • Quest National Championships and Associated Championships
  • PetPlan Equine Summer Area Festivals and Championships
  • Summer Regionals and LeMieux National Championships

BD CEO, Jason Brautigam, commented: “These plans have been developed with considerable uncertainty remaining about what the future will hold, but we believe that the sport is in a strong position to get back underway as soon as government gives the green light. While there aren’t going to be any quick-fix solutions, we wanted to provide a clear path forward for our members and offer some hope for a return to a new normal – whatever that might look like.

“The health and safety of members remains of paramount importance and we appreciate that everyone has different circumstances. Some members may fall into the high-risk category, so they still need to be shielded and officials and venues will have to adapt to new conditions in order to comply with social distancing measures. We may all have to operate within a limited regional capacity for the immediate future to respect any travel restrictions. Getting underway and resuming competition will require a flexible approach, but we’ll aim to provide all stakeholders with the support they need to adapt and evolve, so we can all play a part in building dressage back to where it should be.”

Despite this disappointing news, BD hopes to commence the winter qualifying season from 1 July 2020, providing there’s been a sufficient relaxation in restrictions. The BD Board, Senior Management Team and Sports Operations task force have set out key areas to progress to give members more opportunities to improve and enjoy their dressage…

  • the 2020 Winter Championship will be split into three smaller sections – Winter National, Winter Music and Area Festival championships – if numbers permit
  • there may be the chance to carry over full or part summer qualifications from 1 July to 31 December 2020 for the 2021 Winter Championships
  • replacement small, medium and big tour competitions at high-profile and Premier League equivalent competitions once restrictions are reduced
  • an alternative structure and final for Young Horse and Pony Championships in 2020
  • a one-off Under 25 British National Championships for ponies, juniors, young riders, children on horses and U25 Grand Prix before the end of the year
  • the Equissage Summer Para Bronze and Silver Championships are to go ahead in August, incorporating a Gold Championship, with a revised qualification route
  • eight Quest Regional Finals to resume as individual championships within each region
  • alternative mini-championships for all regions to get members involved in competition again

BD Chairman, Linda Whetstone, commented: “Everyone at BD has been working hard to manage the crisis, taking the necessary measures to safeguard the future of our sport, protect the health of all involved and ensure the financial stability of British Dressage. We’re unfortunately going to be living with the impact of this pandemic for some time to come, nevertheless it’s crucial for all concerned that we can facilitate the swift return of training and competition activity when it’s safe to do so. We hope the dressage community will take time to read the details in our operational plan, which is our roadmap out of the crisis and can be found on the BD website. We’re immensely grateful for all the positive feedback and contributions we’ve received to date and hope you’ll continue to support us as we work together to rebuild our sport.”

For more information, visit britishdressage.co.uk

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