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Horse showing in the time of Covid ... My Experiences

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    Horse showing in the time of Covid ... My Experiences

    We started showing as soon as the USEF opened things up and have shown at a wide variety of venues. Without going into specifics, I thought that every venue did an excellent job, with one show management company (at a show run by a charity which means a variety of different committees and volunteers— and we all know how that usually goes) falling short, mainly due to misinformation, conflicting information, and uneven enforcement. That being said, my conclusion as far as showing right now is that the level of pleasantness and fairness for exhibitors and riders is directly proportional, to how kind and fair the covid enforcers/stewards are. Had one show experience where the steward was highly emotional, angry and arbitrary in the enforcement. Made the week miserable and we left early. A friend in Kentucky had a similar experience and she went home. My takeaway is that kindness and fair enforcement are vital right now in these highly fraught and anxiety ridden times. That goes both ways of course but I have not personally witnessed any exhibitors being nasty about the regulations ... only a handful of officials.

    Kindness is always a good thing.

    That being said… I can only imagine the level of frustration for the officials who spent all day asking exhibitors to comply with the rules, only to be ignored. I have been to a bunch of shows in the last two months. Many if not most exhibitors have made a good effort to comply with the rules.

    But. There are always some exhibitors who seem to think the rules don’t apply to them. It’s bad enough when those exhibitors ignore the amateur rule or the drug rule or what have you.

    But when they ignore the Covid rules, they are jeopardizing the entire horse show. Not just from the standpoint of everyone’s health, but from the very real risk of getting that show and other shows shut down again.

    The show managers these days really have to jump through endless extra hoops to hold a horse show in the first place, so it’s not surprising if they feel the need to insist on compliance with the Covid rules.


      Original Poster

      You are completely missing my point. It was done kindly and effectively at 9 out of 10 shows. It can be done. It is far more pleasant to show when you are made aware of the rules upfront (they were changing often at the beginning of this) in a calm and even handed manner. Only once this summer has that not occurred and it will stick with me for a long time. Yes I have heard horror stories of non compliance. I never personally saw anyone purposefully flouting the rules. Truth be told, there are calm and effective ways of dealing with that too. like I said it goes both ways but from an exhibitors perspective, kind and non reactive officiating goes a long way in this pandemic.


        I was just at WEC's last summer show this past week. It was a fascinating week fresh off the KY cancellations. We were on pins and needles beforehand as there were rumors they were thinking about cancelling it which never came to fruition. Accordingly, people BADLY wanted this show to happen so everyone was really good about compliance. They also have a covid steward with her own cart labeled as such who spent all day every day driving the whole property from one end to the other and walking through barns which kept people on their toes and very compliant (she was also very friendly, I always waved and said hi). They cracked down on spectators specifically in the jumper ring because it was indoors and everyone was pretty good about it.

        It also ended up being a much bigger show than anticipated as people from KY came rolling in through Friday morning looking for somewhere to show. We had more big jumpers than usual once groups like Ashland Farms showed up.

        Overall, it was well managed, people were compliant with mask wearing and staying in their groups and maintaining distance from others. I find the local unrated shows are really where we see people not wearing masks nor maintaining distance.


          Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post
          Yes I have heard horror stories of non compliance. I never personally saw anyone purposefully flouting the rules.
          I’ve seen it a lot. A lot, a lot.

          So I can understand that if a steward has to deal with nine people in a row who refuse to follow the rules, the tenth person the steward sees breaking the same rule might not get handled with kid gloves.

          Ideally, none of that should happen. The exhibitors breaking the rules, or the steward feeling the need to lay down the law. But the stewards are only human, just like the rest of us.


            Original Poster

            But why be nasty about it? I think if you are aggressive or overly emotional the covid steward job is not the right one for you.


              Our very excellent public health officer here, Dr Bonny Henry, signs off her press briefings by saying "be calm, be kind, be safe." I think those are excellent guidelines. While COVID safety matters, at the same time no single instance especially outdoors or in well ventilated areas is of the extreme urgency to require confrontation. She also did not want to see altercations in public or lots of tattle tale 911 calls about minor things

              While we were on shutdown in March and April, I realized that how people dealt with their anxiety in communities, barns, neighborhoods, could have a longer negative effect on personal relationships. Having a batshit aggressive show steward will make people think differently about that venue and is not good strategy.

              We've made it through to "stage 3" re openings under Dr Bonny's guidance and I think her message of mutual toleration and personal responsibility has been very positive for us.


                Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post
                But why be nasty about it? I think if you are aggressive or overly emotional the covid steward job is not the right one for you.
                You missed the part in MHM's post about the steward perhaps losing the politeness with the 10th person. I don't think that's the sign of an inherent character flaw in the steward. It's really unfair to say so.

                And BTW, no one coming to a horse show, however squirrelly the rules there, doesn't know that masks are being required more and more places. IMO, there is no excuse for evading the rules at this point and I am truly sorry that the horsey set even requires this kind of policing. We should know better and need to put in some effort if we want our non-essential gatherings to continue. I will lose no sleep over a steward being short with the elite people who don't care to or forget to do something in the interest of public health.
                The armchair saddler
                Politically Pro-Cat


                  If people can't follow the rules, i.e., wear a mask, then they should stay home. Rules are rules. Stewards are there to enforce the rules. That is their job.


                    Original Poster

                    That’s right. I’m talking about 9 of ten stewards reminding people nicely and the one off having a sweet grandmother in tears. If stewards can’t enforce the rules calmly and fairly then they shouldn’t be stewards. Before anyone gets their panties in a wad, grandma was taking care of granddaughter, not spectating.


                      I've done three shows so far - trailer in only, although I did have to walk through the stabling area at one. Mask wearing in stabling was definitely hit or miss. And at one show where they were doing temp checks at the gate there was at least one BNT and a show official wandering around without masks. Maybe because I've only been trailering in, but I've yet to see anyone going around the grounds policing mask usage.

                      On a separate note, I'm disappointed that some of the other changes that were promised by many shows haven't materialized. Early on many shows said they would do frequent updating of online numbers and ring status to help people "show and go" but for the most part you are lucky to get a midday update if anything. A minor inconvenience in the long run, but something I was looking forward to as I often trailer in for shows.


                        Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post
                        That’s right. I’m talking about 9 of ten stewards reminding people nicely and the one off having a sweet grandmother in tears. If stewards can’t enforce the rules calmly and fairly then they shouldn’t be stewards. Before anyone gets their panties in a wad, grandma was taking care of granddaughter, not spectating.
                        Because maybe Grandma should know better and Grandma was the 10th person in a very short time that had to be reminded of a very basic fact.

                        I do agree that being nice is the best plan. That aside, I am willing to accept that even very nice people who are excellent at their job have a breaking point that sometimes I might not have seen what caused them to go over it. Volunteering at what has become the most thankless job ever has got to be exceptionally stressful.

                        And really....what reason did Grandma have for not following the rules to start with?


                          Granted, this might not work for every steward.

                          But maybe some of them could wear shirts with a screen shot from Fatal Attraction with the line, “I’m not going to be ignored!”


                            Why should a "covid enforcer" ever have to speak with people? Shouldn't people just behave/follow the rules and not NEED to be spoken to about them? If rules are changing, those attending the show need to get themselves up to speed. The fact that the "covid enforcer" even has to be talking to people is indicative that there IS a problem.

                            Why is sweet grandma even at a show? Why didn't whoever brought her ensure she was following the rules? If she is the adult in charge of the child that day it's her RESPONSIBILITY. That's part of what she's there for.

                            Why is common sense so uncommon?

                            Having spent some time enforcing leash and parking rules at Devon, you should spend a day doing it and then see how you feel OP. When you've asked politely for the 100th time and you see someone STILL letting their dog loose, it's frustrating. And this is a public health crisis where people's health is at serious risk.
                            Last edited by vxf111; Aug. 10, 2020, 01:04 PM.
                            "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                              It doesn't matter if the Steward has said it 10 times, perhaps this is the 1st time this person needed a reminder. I keep reading on here about higher expectations for our USHJA....

                              It's no different then a Park Ranger at Yellowstone reminding people EVERYDAY about staying away from wild animals, doesn't mean they get to be a jerk to 10th person because they are tired of saying it.

                              adding- as Renn/aissance said-if necessary, be "direct, forthright, and professional"


                                I was the announcer/starter for a local horse show a few weeks back. The COVID procedures were published in the prize list. Exhibitors were stopped for a temperature check before entering the property (and anyone who blew past them sent back.) I was asked by management, the steward, and the EMT to give continual reminders about social distancing and mask-wearing.

                                I can tell you that by the 25th repetition of "a reminder to all exhibitors and spectators to keep 6 feet of social distance between yourselves while not preparing a rider for the ring, and that masks must be worn over your nose and your mouth. Thank you," I was not amused by the exhibitor hand-grazing her horse within 6 feet of someone else with her mask pulled underneath her chin, looking directly at me. I walked over to that exhibitor and said she needed to put her mask on. She did. 5 minutes later, guess whose mask was underneath her chin? My statement to any exhibitor I had to address directly was given in the same tone of voice I use with my direct reports at my day job when reminding them of expectations: direct, forthright, professional: "I need you to put your mask on covering your nose and your mouth."

                                I was also not amused by those proclaiming that "all this COVID stuff will just go away after the election." But proud of our junior and young amateur riders who had already registered to vote and requested mail-in ballots for their first exercise of this civic duty!

                                I don't know what the grandma was or wasn't doing, but I am illustrating why a person who is typically polite and lighthearted with exhibitors may lose her cool after the umpteenth person who has decided that the rules do not apply to them in this particular set of circumstances and is electing to tell me why they're special. You're on someone else's property surrounded by other people in order to pursue a luxury hobby by choice. Put your damn mask on or go home.
                                "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden


                                  Realistically, the most effective way to drive home the Covid rules would be to throw somebody off the showgrounds for not wearing a mask. And that has probably already happened more than once.

                                  But there will still be people who choose to ignore the rules anyway.


                                    If being told (even rudely) to put on a mask and follow social distancing rules reduces someone to tears, maybe that person is not an appropriate choice to be in charge of a minor and large dangerous animal out in public.
                                    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"


                                      Originally posted by APirateLooksAtForty View Post
                                      You are completely missing my point. It was done kindly and effectively at 9 out of 10 shows. It can be done. It is far more pleasant to show when you are made aware of the rules upfront (they were changing often at the beginning of this) in a calm and even handed manner. Only once this summer has that not occurred and it will stick with me for a long time. Yes I have heard horror stories of non compliance. I never personally saw anyone purposefully flouting the rules. Truth be told, there are calm and effective ways of dealing with that too. like I said it goes both ways but from an exhibitors perspective, kind and non reactive officiating goes a long way in this pandemic.
                                      I'm confused....if you and everyone you saw was 100% compliant, then why would any steward even need to speak with you (unkindly or kindly)?


                                        Unless you follow the steward or Covid enforcer around all day you really have no idea how well people are complying, or how they are being treated.

                                        I can't even imagine having that job right now.
                                        I work in healthcare. It is a public mandate where I live that everyone has to wear a mask if they are inside a public building. Our clinic policy has required patients to wear masks since we reopened in May. I perform echocardiograms which require the patient and I to be less than an arms length away from each other for 20-40 minutes. Do you have any idea how many times per day I have to tell people to put their mask on? That it needs to cover their mouth AND their nose? How many times per day people feel the need to whine about it to me?
                                        If people can't wear a mask properly at a medical appointment why on earth would anyone think that every.single.person. at a horseshow would comply 100%?

                                        I agree that kindness should be the first line of defense. But man oh man, people are exhausting.