Adult Amateur Hunter and Equitation rider Lena Licata recently horse showed for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic at Saratoga Horse Shows June 24-28 at White Hollow Farm in Stillwater, New York.
I asked her what her experience was with all the protocols put in place by US Equestrian and state and local governments. Here's what she had to say.
As far as vendors go, from what I heard, there were none during Week 1, not even food. Week 2 there were about three with one food vendor. The food vendor had up the plastic barriers.
Hand-washing stations were set up with the port-o-potties and there was even one hot water hand washing station.
Management made announcements to keep your mask on and stay socially distanced. During Week 1 they felt too many people congregated during the derby and Grand Prix so instead of holding them at the end of day the classes were moved to first thing in the morning. I had the best of intentions to watch them but ended up not going. So I guess that crowd- management tactic worked well as I would have stayed and watched at the end of the show day.
Class ribbons were centrally located for you to pick up after your divisions. It was weird not to get a ribbon handed to you in the hack. I hope the ribbon presentations come back.
There were no jogs in the upper-level hunter classes, instead riders trotted circle after the last jump. Another tradition I personally hope comes back.
I’m not sure if it was coincidence or planned but it appeared the stall tents were arranged by locality. All of the NJ barns seemed to be in one tent, NY barns in another, etc. Probably a pretty good idea.
No one really wore a mask while mounted. Most riders kept their neck gaiters on and just pulled them up when dismounted. I put mine in my backpack while riding.
Ground and ring crews limited two people to a warm-up jump. They announced reminders over the PA system and trainers had to wear masks while in the schooling ring. When the wind was going it was hard to hear but otherwise there was no problem.
As for the town of Saratoga you can eat indoors at a smaller capacity. Our group did this twice and waited for outdoor tables at the bar. One restaurant even had contact tracing cards on the table and a few had sanitizers on the table.
The hotel was almost contactless other than a friendly 'hello' twice a day as I walked in and out every interaction was done from a safe social distance. We even used our room key to hit the elevator buttons. There was no maid/housekeeping service during our stay and there were signs to not ride in the elevator with anyone not in your party.
Overall I felt quite safe. I have no hesitation going to another show as long as it was similarly protected and managed.