Can we talk about the elephant in the room? Everyone knows we’re still smack dab in the middle of a pandemic, right? And that large parts of country (like… the entire south pretty much) are trending really really badly in the wrong direction?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about continuing to live our lives and ride and take lessons and school and horse show, as long as it actually makes reasonable sense. Like smaller, shorter shows that draw a local crowd and adhere to covid protocol… okay. You can convince me of that. But national championship shows that draw large numbers of people from all over the country together in one place, require a lot of travel across states, and at least a week’s stay at said destination before everyone re-disperses? I’m just not sold on that being wise.
I definitely do agree that there is a relatively low risk of spread at the horse show itself, given that spectators are extremely limited, and given that people adhere to the guidelines (which, whether or not they do is a whole ‘nother ball of wax in and of itself), that they stay masked, and don’t congregate in large groups and/or indoor spaces. But… what about everything else involved? Like the travel to get there, which for some people can be days of hauling across multiple states, stopping at many gas stations/restaurants/etc. And then the hotel stay when you do arrive to your destination. And the going out to restaurants and into stores. And so on and so on and so on, for at least a week. So you’re gathering all these people from different places, assimilating all of them into the local population, and then sending them all back out again.
I don’t know about y’all, but I’d be especially leery of Texans and Floridians and Californians and Georgians and and and right now (reminder: I am a Texan, and I would totally get it if you wanted me to stay the heck away, I’m doing my best to stay the heck away from other Texans too). Particularly in the states that actually have a handle on their case numbers or have made some progress at flattening the curve. Some states have put into place requirements or recommendations (lol “recommendations”, let me tell you how well that’s going with mask-wearing down here in Freedumbland) that anyone coming from the hot spot states should quarantine themselves for 14 days. How exactly would that work?
So I’m over here peering over my theoretical glasses at things like Pony Finals, AEC’s, and Equitana. I mean, does… does any of that really seem like a good idea in the next couple months? How do the residents of Kentucky (which has already had a 231% increase in cases in the last two weeks, one of the biggest) feel about that? Because, I’ll say it: it’s just not possible for no one attending these events to have covid, or to not come into contact with someone with covid somewhere along the way. Someone, or many someones, will for sure have it. Just by sheer numbers, especially from the worst states. And maybe there won’t be any transmission at the horse show, but it’s gonna be quite the feat if you can spend a whole week traveling and eating out and going to stores and manage to not either pass it on or come into contact with someone who has it.
I kind of suspect that since it hasn’t really made an impact on the equestrian community yet – in that no one “big name” has gotten a bad case of it or died from it, and no horse related things have been reported as mass spreader events – that we’re just kinda flying under the radar and trying to pretend that we’ll be fine. But I have to wonder how wise it is to be holding national level championship events when the country is literally on fire. Yes, of course everyone wants to go. Yes, of course it would be devastating to a lot of people for these things to get cancelled. No, no one wants that. At what point is it the responsible choice, though? Are there other safer/smarter options that we could be pursuing instead?
Pony Finals is the first thing up on the docket, so we’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’m just being crazy. Maybe the covid ship has long since sailed and it’s too late anyway. Thoughts? Would you feel comfortable going? Would you feel comfortable with your barnmates going and then coming back into your shared space? If you’re in Kentucky, how do you feel about all the travelers coming into your area? Do we think all of these events will actually get to happen or will the Kentucky governor step in?