This is a message sent to us from Joe Coalter of the Horsemen's Corral.
You may not be aware that we are leading the charge in Ohio to get shows re-opened. Below is the body of a document sent to the Governor's Office last week on behalf of the equine industry. When the smoke clears from all of this, we hope you will consider supporting our small business by advertising with us. We're going to need it! In the mean time, we're fighting for you and will remain "Your One Source For The Horse"!
As Ohio begins to open up businesses and activities throughout the state, the equine industry has been largely overlooked. Ohio Department of Health directives have been interpreted differently by individual county departments thus creating a great deal of uncertainty in the equine business segment. The Horsemen’s Corral magazine, having direct contact with fifty equine organizations and venues, and in association with the Ohio Horseman’s Council conducted a survey to examine Economic Impact, Logistics and Plans for the industry to re-open. Additional information was gathered from several national breed and competitor associations, American Horse Council, Ohio Farm Bureau and the American Horse Publications.
To develop a set of guidelines in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, and acceptable to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), to be used by equine organizations within the State of Ohio to begin conducting equine related events in a non-spectator environment. These events may include but are not limited to organized trail rides, barrel racing, dressage, jumping, cowboy mounted shooting, pole bending, roping, sorting, team penning, pleasure, equitation and the like; where the primary attendees are youth and adult competitors, trainers and immediate family of the competitor. Our goal is to have recommended guidelines in place by the Memorial Day weekend to decrease the economic impact and get Ohioans back on their horses.
Based on the average of several studies in the last few years, the equine industry in Ohio generates an estimated $2.2 billion dollars for the state. As much as 55% of that can be found in two categories of contestant and recreational riders. Those two groups, representing $1.2 billion of our economy include everything from children’s 4-H horse shows to trail riding and dressage to cowboy mounted shooting. For the purposes of this document, we refer to these as “contestant events”. In other words, events where the participants and immediate family represent the attendance.
According to the direct survey we conducted within the State of Ohio, over $400 million dollars has been lost thus far and an estimated $200 million dollars more could be lost in the time period from Memorial weekend through the end of June if contestant events are not permitted to re-open.
Survey questions sent to clubs, associations and venues included whether or not the event is held indoors or out, size of the grounds, if overnight stays are typically required, number of contestants attending, arena size, if stalls are rented, size of the stalls and public restroom availability. Although the answers varied greatly, the averages clearly indicate the ability to manage social distancing. The following chart demonstrates what a typical contestant event may look like in the State of Ohio.
|Overnight Required||Contestants||Grounds (Acre)||Arena Size||Stall Rental||Number of Stalls||Stall Size||Public Restrooms|
Although these numbers do not include events that may be held at Ohio State Park locations, they do include a cross section of Ohio fairgrounds and privately held venues. Key to the management of the contestant event is the size of the grounds utilized compared to the average number of contestants. This allows ample room for trailer parking, warm up and horse care.
The final significant element to the survey conducted for contestant events was to ask respondents to share their ideas on managing an event while following CDC and ODH guidance. The responses were quite similar across the board and clearly laid out a foundation for allowing contestant events to take place in the Ohio. The following is a summary of recommendations from our survey.
Recommended Guidelines for Equine Contestant Events
- Pre-Show: It is highly recommended that all events utilize some form of preshow registration. Where possible, registration should include the availability to pay fees in advance of the competition. Fees may include entry fees, trailer parking, stall reservations, etc. Registration in advance affords the event manager ample time to plan for contestants and mitigates risk for gathering at an entry table. Planning may include assigning parking, stalls, arrival times, warm up time, show time, etc. Consider closing bleachers or sectioning them off. It is further recommended to remind contestants of their individual responsibility to not attend if they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Personnel: It is recommended that all event personnel wear facemasks when interacting with each other and contestants. Contests should be encouraged to do the same while on the grounds. Furthermore, no contestant should be penalized for wearing a facemask during competition if they so choose.
- Cleaning: Event management should have a plan in place for cleaning and sanitizing common areas and “touch points” throughout the day. This should include door and gate handles, countertops, tables, restrooms, wash rack handles and hoses. Discourage public use or sharing of manure rakes, wheelbarrows, buckets. If an entry table or office is being used, build a frame to hold a plexi-glass divider between contestant and office personnel.
- Arrival: Upon arrival, each contestant and family member entering the event should receive information regarding rules to follow while at the event. If parking, stalls, time slots have been assigned in advance, this is a good time to provide that information.
- Trailer Parking: It is recommended that trailers maintain 20’ space on all sides. This will allow room for horse care and families to maintain sufficient distance should they choose to sit outside the trailer. Remind contestants however, that gathering at a trailer in groups of more than 10 is prohibited.
- Signage/Announcements: Event management should display signage with reminders for social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing. Announcements of the same should be made throughout the competition. If running an event utilizing time slots, announcements should be made periodically as to where the arena is in the go order or what class they are on. If venue speaker system does not provide coverage in trailer or stall areas, event planners should consider using a low frequency FM transmitter to reach those areas.
- Hand Sanitizer Stations: Hand sanitizing stations with access to soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer should be located throughout the event grounds and provided to contestants, officials, ring crew, office staff and maintenance staff.
- Barn/Stall Area: Manage the flow of contestants and horses by directing traffic one way. Grooming, should be done in the stall rather than in the aisle to allow proper social distancing. Wash racks may be reserved with specific time slots to minimize congestion.
- Arena: Determine a safe number of horses allowed to show together based on the size of the arena providing enough room to “line up” while maintaining proper distance. Judges and Stewards should wear a mask while inspecting the horse. Use cones or other markers on the ground to delineate distance while staging and entering the arena. Use separate entry and exit gates whenever possible. Do not allow competitors to gather on the rail to watch the class. Consider utilizing technology for information transfer to lessen the risk of virus spread through the
transfer of paper (i.e. judge’s cards, scoresheets, etc.).
- Awards: As with pre-registration, payouts should be done electronically when possible. Checks and ribbons may be mailed or placed in an envelope on a table to avoid physical contact. Larger awards should be given in a specific area where the potential for gathering is less likely. Discourage group photos of anyone not in the immediate family.
Ultimately it is the responsibility of the contestant and their family members to maintain social distancing and safety. From training a 1000 pound animal to driving a pickup truck with a thirty foot trailer attached they have experience in managing themselves and looking out for others. They enter events of their own free will and are perfectly capable of working within a set of guidelines to get back into the arena but they need a clear understanding of those guidelines. In a recent study for the CONI (Italian Ministry of Sport and the Italian Committee), the University of Turin calculated the possibility of spreading Covid-19 for each sport during competition. The study concluded individual equestrian sports had “almost non-existing risk” for spreading the virus. Certainly, 200 people on a fifty acre equine facility represents less risk than 100 people at the local grocery store. It’s time for Ohio to saddle up and support the Ohio Equine Industry.
Pro Equine/Rodeo Announcer
P.O. Box 32
Lodi, OH 44254
The Corral is the only magazine that supports the horse industry in OH, MI, IN, KY, WV & PA by using a full multi-media approach to marketing. We combine Print, Digital Radio, Social & Web Media along with over 100 Personal Appearances by Joe Coalter, Professional Equine and Rodeo Announcer.