The following letter was released by US Equestrian CEO Bill Moroney on August 2 at 6:10pm CST.
Last night, US Equestrian and Kentucky Horse Shows, LLC made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel the last day of the Kentucky Summer Classic Horse Show and the USEF Pony Finals competition. This decision was not made lightly, but we had to move quickly and decisively in response to circumstances involving multiple COVID-19 positive cases that were reported to competition management within a 24-hour period. While this is understandably a very disappointing decision for the many parents, children, and trainers who were looking forward to competing this week, we must put the safety and welfare of our children, membership, staff, and the community first. We hope that the difficult decision we had to make yesterday will not be one we have to repeat going forward.
While we strive to make decisions regarding cancellations as far in advance as possible, yesterday is a reminder of how quickly situations can change because of this virus, and it serves as a wake-up call to our sport. We know that there are proven steps everyone can take to mitigate the risk of the virus spreading, and it is our individual and collective responsibility to abide by them. These mandatory steps, along with many other important requirements, are outlined in the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan for Competitions.
- Wear a face mask or cloth face covering at all times when you are on the show grounds unless when mounted on a horse or seated in a horse-drawn carriage or cart;
- Practice social distancing of six feet or more;
- Wash your hands frequently; and
- Do not access the competition grounds if you have any symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
We are thankful the majority of competition organizers and participants are complying with requirements. However, we continue to address instances of non-compliance at shows – participants not wearing facemasks (or not correctly wearing them), participants congregating without social distancing, and individuals coming to the show when they are experiencing symptoms. Many of these examples of non-compliance are readily visible in photos on social media and reported by our officials. Individuals who are not in compliance need to be reported to organizers and removed from the competition grounds. If an organizer is not enforcing requirements, report this to the USEF.
We can all acknowledge that large-scale gatherings potentially increase the risk of virus transmission. We remind competition organizers that they may limit entries to the competition to manage the concentration of horses and people. Limitations must be in accordance with the USEF Action Plan.
While horse showing is not an essential activity, it is an industry and a beloved sport that we all want to continue in the safest way possible. Please do your part to make certain that equestrian competitions can continue to operate during this pandemic.
To the participants of USEF Pony Finals, we regret this decision was so close to the start of the competition, but please know the decision was made in the best interest of the health and safety of all involved. Let us all learn from this experience and move forward.
William J. Moroney
Chief Executive Officer, US Equestrian