The New Normal

After working from home for a while, I had to go into work yesterday to give a presentation and move some inventory around. It was my first time in the city in 5 or 6 weeks, and it was a little weird making that drive that I used to make every day but haven’t in so long. The amount of traffic was about normal, so nothing seemed particularly eerie until I got to work. Seeing everyone in face masks and having all kinds of new procedures in place was interesting. Plus the building was a ghost town, with 80-90% of the company working from home. Our company hasn’t yet put an “end plan” in place for working from home yet, and I think it will go for a least another month if not longer for most people.

But the state is letting the current stay-at-home order expire today, and in it’s place will be an order with fewer restrictions. Bars, restaurants, malls, theaters, libraries, and museums can open but with a limit of 25% capacity. They want other businesses like gyms and hair salons to open by mid-May. The new order also overrides any local mandates for required face coverings or fines if they don’t wear one. The state order encourages wearing a mask but doesn’t require it, whereas most of the local governments in the more populous areas had required face coverings a while ago and now the state order will override that. This is all really interesting considering the number of cases is still increasing and our state has done very little testing compared to most others – we’re close to last on per capita testing with only about 1% of our population having been tested. As for outdoor sports, right now they will be limited to 4 participants, with social distancing practices encouraged.

Of course, horse shows are still on hold. USEF announced an extension to their competition suspension (through at least May 31) and USEA followed suit. I think that surprised pretty much no one, there isn’t much other choice at this point given all the different state orders. During my drive yesterday I was listening to some podcasts about when/how horse shows might get rolling again and that combined with my weird day at work really brought home how, even with things starting to mobilize again, we’re still a very very very long way from “normal”. And that our new normal will look quite a bit different, probably for quite a while. It will be interesting how horse shows choose to handle things going forward, once restrictions are lifted enough to permit them.

Of course, it’s already getting hot down in Texas (we’ve hit 100 already) and we’re nearing the end of what would typically be Henry’s competition season. By mid-late May it’s already too hot for him, so horse shows won’t be happening. We’ll see about the fall season, but I’m not really holding my breath too much considering it stays hot until November. I think instead the focus will be getting Presto out and about, be it on trail rides or to small local shows just to hang out when/if they start happening again. I had no plans to show him in the Future Event Horse stuff this year anyway (which I might be second guessing right now if shows were still happening because he’s actually looking pretty good) but the fact that all of our local qualifiers have bit the dust just kind of cements that. No FEH for him.

he’s not sad about it

USEA still says that they’re planning on going ahead with AEC’s, which if people still need to qualify for they’d have to do it real damn quick. It’s hard to even guess what things will be looking like by the end of August. Will there be a second wave? Will they have relaxed limitations on large gatherings? Who the heck knows. We’re in uncharted territory here. I am starting to think that none of the 5*’s are going to happen this year, although I’m still crossing my fingers for Fair Hill. I am seriously itching for some horsey travel, and we may or may not have already booked an RV site for LRK3DE 2021.

Since I was in town yesterday I stopped to grab food from a couple of my favorite restaurants to take home. That was my first time going inside anywhere aside from the grocery store, so it was bizarre to see all the guidelines and the spacers. Going to lunch is a very different experience these days. I did order one more mask too – right now I have a mask and a gaiter, but I think our office will require wearing masks for a while to come so I wanted to be able to have plenty at my disposal, as well as different options. Giving a presentation while wearing a gaiter was a new experience too.

Did I pre-order an F-bomb mask? Yes I did.

Like everyone else, I am itching for things to start getting back to normal again. I want SO to start his job so we can order our house and start getting the current one ready to rent. I want shows to start happening so I can get Presto out to see the sights. I want the economy to start picking up so our oil and gas industry can recover and our company can make some money. I’m also just getting bored and stir-crazy. But I also don’t want everything to try to start up again too quickly and make things worse, or put people in danger. It’s a tricky thing and I don’t envy the people making decisions.

For now we’ll be keeping our distance, wearing a face mask, and waiting to see what happens next. What are you guys thinking is going to happen with horse shows this year?

9 thoughts on “The New Normal

  1. I think there will be some limited schooling shows by mid-summer but we’ll have to see what the big recognized events look like.

    I’m really hoping that our barn can translate schooling shows to stay-at-home shows, kind of like the ride-review-ride clinic style.

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  2. I think the horse shows will be allowed again by fall, IF (big IF) the ICU’s and medical community can handle whatever the rate of infection is over the summer. BUT (big BUT) I do think there will be different protocols around the shows, and they will be New Normal Shows, not Old Normal Shows.

    There will likely be restrictions on the number of spectators (if any) and the number of entries – and the number of entries makes a show financially viable, or not. So, I think some shows will have a very difficult decision to make, if they can afford to offer a show under the New Normal Format, whatever that is determined to be by the USEF/USEA and the other sanctioning organizations.

    My guess is that schooling shows will answer to whatever the local authorities choose to impose on all local sports. That may be a state, county or municipal authority, but in Texas it looks like the state is taking over those restrictions. Maybe schooling shows have more flexibility to make it work with fewer entries.

    Until the end of this year and possibly going forward as well, only high-margin businesses will survive if they have significant added costs to meet required restrictions, along with required limitations on customers. That goes for horse shows as well as every other business. In the end a sanctioned show is a business that has to support itself. Unless government bailouts are offered widely there will be many business casualties, and there are many political hurdles to such a bailout actually being effective. We might need help to get horse shows on the list of bailout businesses.

    That F! face mask is rather appropriate for these times! hehehe ugh

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  3. I’m not too optimistic for a show season this year. In the Northeast lots of barns are shutdown completely or partially, my own facility as well. The majority of our shows are in 1. Massachusetts and 2. New York (including USDF regionals) and both are huge hot spots for virus activity.

    I’ll be happy to be back with unfettered access to my horse so I can get back to riding and getting out to trainer’s farm for lessons.

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  4. Im in Ontario and Based on what I’ve seen locally. We can kiss the summer showing goodbye. The county next to mine has already stated they’re keeping all municipal buildings and events closed or cancelled until at least August and are asking store owners etc to do the same.

    Its also looking like it won’t be til june sometime (maybe) that they start to lift provincial regulations and they’ve stated
    It’ll be lifted in increments with 2 to 4 weeks in between each phase..

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  5. Most local facilities are thinking shows may resume in September…but that really means nothing right now. It seems like a million years away in my opinion. My company is bracing itself for a possible second wave, so we aren’t really sure what working will look like this summer. I hate being in this grey space, and I especially hate not being able to make plans. What a weird time we are living in!

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  6. Our local horse club did a virtual show last month, so if they still do that I might participate in it. Since it’s so low-key, it looks like it’d actually be a bit fun. I think Vegas is starting to open things back up too – casinos are getting started again but slowly. It’s already been 100 here as well. What a weird year 2020 has turned out to be….

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  7. I have stopped trying to guess honestly. May 20th is my state’s target date to start talking about opening things slowly and on some kind of schedule. But who really knows, right? My hopes of showing this year were dashed anyway when both full sized horses got hurt, so selfishly, the lack of a show season is kind of just more of the last 5 years for me. I too long for the old life we all had, but better safe I think for now.
    Anyway, I can’t get over how hot it is down there! It’s been cold and raining here forever. Hardly even gets to 50. Though that does make it easier to stay cooped up!

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  8. I’m in Colorado, and our typical “show season” runs April to September. Anything outside of that, you risk a snowstorm cancelling your show (if it’s outdoors) or seriously limiting participants (if it’s inside because few people will haul in snow and ice unless it’s absolutely necessary). We even had a couple of weekends in April that would have had cancelled shows due to snow had they not already been cancelled due to the virus.

    Our local chapter of USDF has been discussing how to put on a small-scale regional show: usually they do one in June and one in August, and I love to go because, since they’re not USDF/USEF sanctioned (only regionally sanctioned), they tend to be lower in attendance and have a very “schooling show” feel but with higher level judges. So you get a feel of how you might do at a USDF-level show, but in a more relaxed atmosphere. They’ve discussed making it into a two-day show to be able to spread out entries (like, have intro/training level on Saturday and 1st level+ on Sunday) so fewer people are on site at a time and there can be more time between entrants to minimize proximity of people. They’ve also talked about just making it a schooling show with limited entries.

    I’m more worried about my competitive trail riding organization. We’re small to begin with, and though we’ve been around since the 1960s, we’ve been steadily declining since the 2008-2009 recession. We’ve already had 4 rides either cancelled or postponed this year, with more likely to come as we’re dependent on the Forest Service and BLM to hold our rides and they’re of course government entities. Even if we CAN form a plan to have a ride with proper precautions, they still may say “no”. I’m worried total cancellation of this ride season and the current economic recession will be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and lead to a sport than will simply die away. Given how much the sport has taught me about trail riding and general horse safety, it would be a sad, sad loss!

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  9. Pretty much everything big has been cancelled this year (including Adelaide), but the EA organisations are putting in the hard yards now to plan how to get comps up and running again as soon as they possibly can.

    We’re pretty lucky here, we haven’t had the cases pick up to the same extent as the US, and where I live (about 60k people) we only have 1 active case so apart from working from home and not seeing friends as much life has been pretty normal. No face masks or anything here.

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