Adjusting to the New Normal: Fox Lea Farm School’s Out Horse Show

As our team of writers each personally begin attending horse shows to compete, we’ll be sharing their experiences as we enter a “new normal” with re-opening of venues and athletic events during COVID-19.  If you’re not comfortable attending a show, even if the rest of your barn is attending, it’s absolutely okay to say no!  However, we hope that our experiences (though they are different than horse shows of the “past”) will provide some encouragement to those curious what it’s like at the shows now, who haven’t ventured out yet.

With USEF giving their riders the go ahead to start horse showing,s many jumped to the opportunity to go to their closest show ground.  Only a handful of states are currently holding horse shows: Florida, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Illinois, South Carolina, and Iowa. Each show management has taken into their hands a big responsibility of keeping their exhibitors safe. 

Prepping before a class, wearing masks. Photo by Dominique Gonzalez.

The first show we attended was at Fox Lea Farm in Venice, Florida. It was essential to be overly cautious to keep the clients and ourselves safe. Our first step prior to attending the horse show was to purchase masks and proper sanitation items such as hand sanitizer and wipes. 

Sanitizing stations were available throughout the show grounds. Photo by Dominique Gonzalez.

At the entrance of the show grounds, we were greeted with a worker that checked our temperature and asked us brief questions about our travel. From there, we were constantly reminded to wear our masks and practice social distancing. The show office encouraged trainers to do their entries online to limit interactions with others. If you needed to go to the office, there was a limit of one person per open window of attendant (usually there are two attendants).

Posted reminders about social distancing and masks. Photo by Dominique Gonzalez.

In-gate workers were placed with a six-foot radius around them to protect themselves and others. The online show organizer HorseShowsOnline was kept updated for how rings were running each day, in order to limit how many people checked daily times with staff. There was also a limit on how many people were allowed at the ring.  In this case, there were three allowed to accompany the rider: Trainer, groom, and a parent.  For schooling purposes, anyone touching a jump was required to wear gloves to limit interaction. 

Barrier to maintain a six-foot social distance. Photo by Dominique Gonzalez.

A staff member wearing a mask. Photo by Dominique Gonzalez.

Wearing a mask around others was the biggest priority at the show. Especially with the recent increase in COVID-19 cases everyone is taking steps to protect themselves. The showing itself was back to normal with all classes being given, including Grand Prix and Hunter Derby opportunities. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to compete with our team again even under these conditions. The horses are excited to have time in the ring and back to the winners circle.