HITS Saugerties Ordered to Stop Vermont Summer Special by State of New York

New York state issued a cease and desist order on Tuesday, June 30 to HITS, on the eve of the 2020 HITS-on-the-Hudson series of horse shows.  The order, dated June 30, warns HITS that it could face fines of up to $1,000 a day if it moves forward with the first of its shows, the Vermont Summer Special, which was planned to run from July 1-5 in Saugerties.

Photo by Tania Barricklo.

According to the state Health Department, all “non-essential businesses” are required to cease “in-person services.” The Health Department stated that horse shows are among those non-essential businesses.  The letter states, “Consequently, by operating the aforementioned horse show, HITS, Inc. will be in violation of Department of Health regulation and an Executive Order related to the COVID-19 state of emergency.”

In addition to facing potential civil penalties, the order warns that the state could seek an injunction from state Supreme Court to compel the horse show’s compliance.

After canceling HITS’ three-week spring series in Saugerties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HITS announced in May plans to start its 2020 HITS-on-the-Hudson series of horse shows in July, saying it would host six consecutive weeks of competitions in Saugerties under the name Great American Summer Series.  HITS planned to combine three Vermont Summer Festival shows with three of its own scheduled shows to form the series.

The Great American Summer Series was scheduled to begin with the Vermont Summer Special from July 1-5 and the Manchester Summer Festival from July 8-12, each culminating with a $100,000 Sunday Grand Prix.  The event would have been open to participants only, and no spectators would have been allowed.

Regularly scheduled HITS shows had also been planned for July 15-19, July 22-26, and July 29 – August 2, with the summer series concluding with the Vermont Summer Celebration from August 5-9.   The cease and desist order covered only the Vermont Summer Special, which was to run July 1-5. It is unclear whether other planned horse shows in Saugerties will also be affected.

Editor’s Note: HITS had been very carefully planning its shows and working with the State of New York on its COVID-19 protocol.  We hope that it is able to resume shows and will keep you apprised of any new information.