Posted on 4th June 2020

Sport resumption update

Thank you for your continued patience during these uncertain and unprecedented times. As you will have seen, BE shared our draft return to eventing plan in mid-May and we continue to plan and look ahead to resuming the sport that we have all missed so much.


Many of you may have seen the headlines regarding the return to competitive sport. However, the guidance issued has not yet provided us with the ability to restart our sport. Based on the Government’s published ‘Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy’, we are working towards being able to recommence competitive sport from 4th July.  This will be dependent on us being able to deliver a safe, socially distanced sport, and we are confident that we can do this. 

On this basis, and only in line with any Government guidelines, we are working with the organisers in July with the intention of resuming sport from 4th July.    

The recent sport resumption survey many of you completed has provided us with some very useful information and has helped us form a view on what is required in terms of membership opportunities when we do resume. 


Questions and Answers

When will entries open? 

As we have explained previously, each of our organisers has provided us with a ‘decision to run’ date. This is the date by which they will need to make the decision to run and start event specific preparation.   It is important that members intending to enter do so in advance of this date – if there are not enough entries by ballot date for the event to run viably, the organiser may cancel the event. 

We will only open entries once we are certain that Government guidelines allow us to run that event. However, subject to that the intention is that we will open entries for each event 7-10 days ahead of the decision to run date.  The decision to run date will also be ballot date.  

How will I know when these dates are? 

The BE website will be kept up to date and each event will have their entries open date and ballot date clearly displayed. 

What if the Government introduces another lockdown? 

Due to the ongoing dispute with the underwriters, whilst we remain of the view that the policy did cover the circumstances under which we cancelled, it is currently uncertain whether any further lockdowns would be covered under the abandonment insurance policy.  We are preparing on a ‘worst case’ scenario basis that pandemic cover will not be available, and we have therefore agreed a Pandemic Refund Policy with our organisers.   

The amount refunded by the organiser will be a minimum of 30% of the net entry fee plus any applicable VAT, up to 3 days prior to the start date of the competition.  This is only the case for a pandemic related cancellation.  Each organiser can return more money if they wish and will publish any additional refund information on their schedule.   

We would recommend that members check the Pandemic Refund Policy for each event prior to making their entry. Details of any refunds provided in excess of the minimum will be shown on their schedule on the BE website. 

If it is agreed with the underwriters that cover for future lockdowns is covered by the policy, then all refunds would be issued via the policy and the organiser will not be required to refund entries as currently proposed. 

Will the start fee be refunded in this instance?

These will be collected with your entry fee, and will be refunded to you if, for whatever reason, you do not start the competition. 

Does this mean that the abandonment insurance is no more? 

Understandably, members are questioning whether the abandonment insurance is now necessary.  As a reminder, the policy still covers the abandonment of an event as a result of other circumstances in the same way it did previously i.e. heavy rainfall.  Members have benefitted from £6.0M worth of pay outs from the policy over the last 10 years, with a total cost of premiums of £7.7.  The vast majority of our claims under the policy are weather related, which is still valid going forward.  We will, of course, keep the position under review. 

Will balloting still take place? 

The ballot process will continue as normal, with the balloting priorities as they are shown in the rulebook.  

Will eventing be different when it restarts? 

The experience on event will inevitably be different.  We need to maintain social distancing, and our plans have been designed to minimise risk for all competitors, volunteers and officials.  We continue to update these plans as more information is available from the Government, and – where we can safely do so  - as a result of feedback from our stakeholders.   

We will be issuing guidance to all organisers to help them run safely, and will be making appropriate changes to the rulebook to reflect the changes in the sport. 

Will times be allocated for warm ups? 

Currently it is not our intention to allocate times for warm ups, however each event will have restrictions on the number of people who can be each warm up area at any one time.  This information will be clearly available at the entrance to each warm up area.  These numbers will be calculated based on the space available in each warm up area to ensure appropriate social distancing.  This will be kept under review as the season restarts. 

Will I have to go on my allocated times? 

Yes. It will be crucial for competitors to stick to all their allocated times.  This means that we can ensure the competition continues to run smoothly as the timetabling for each event will be based on the event’s site and warm up capacity.  You will not be able to ‘slot in’, and so if you miss your times you risk not being able to compete.  It is likely that there will be a requirement to track and trace, which means it is very important we know who is on site at any point in time.  Staying on your times is key to us being able to restart sport and run smoothly and safely.   

Will entry fees be increasing? 

No. As a result of the changes to the way an organiser will have to run an event due to social distancing and minimising contact, organisers will experience a saving in some costs, for example infrastructure costs due to score boards and tentage not being required on-site. Therefore, although each event will be permitted to run less competitors the reduction in entries income should be offset by other cost-savings.  We are also considering the situation regarding paying out of prize money at the start of sport resumption, and we will update you further on this as we draw closer to start date. 

How many horses can I ride each day? 

Under the current rules, a member can only ride 5 horses’ cross country on any day of competition.  As some organisers will be running with restricted numbers to maintain social distancing, there may be some events who will need to impose an additional limit to be able to timetable the day.  This will be published on their event schedule on the BE website. 

What will affect the number of competitors an event can run? 

Each event site is different.  As we are recommending 15msq per horse for the warm up (in line with BD and BS), the size of the site will limit the number of people who can warm up at the same time in each warm up area, which will in turn affect the number of competitors an event can run in one day.  We are recommending timetabling be altered to provide additional time between dressage tests, and each show jumping round– to allow the judges time to carry out their jobs without a writer or team to support them. 

How many owners will be allowed to attend? 

When the initial plans were published, they were drafted on the basis that there would be a limit on the number of people allowed on one site at one time (mass gathering restrictions).  Hence the plans focused on keeping the numbers to an absolute minimum.  As the Government are easing restrictions, there has been more focus on household groups.  We will continue to flex plans as restrictions are further eased, but we would not restrict the numbers of owners where there is not a need to do so. 

What about ground preparations? 

We will work closely with organisers to provide the best possible going for competitors. All organisers have access to BE-owned groundcare machines at subsidised rates. 

What about dogs? 

Overwhelming feedback has been that you still want to be able to take your dogs to an event.  We have listened, and the next release of guidance will reflect this.  Whilst there is a risk, in terms of handling of loose dogs it is felt this can be sufficiently managed on event by the organiser and officials to minimise this. 

What about catering and tradestands? 

In light of the easing of restrictions, we are comfortable that the provision of outside catering will be possible, provided that social distancing is maintained.  All food should be eaten outside, and any event with a restaurant type area will only be able to serve takeaway food under current guidance.  We will monitor advice on retail outlets, which would apply to other tradestands, and keep under review 

Are we definitely going ahead on 4th July? 

We are dependent on the Government and guidance from the BEF - provided the easing of restrictions continues in the way it is expected, then yes.  We will continue to update you. 

What will the remainder of the fixtures calendar look like? 

Inevitably there will be change, however, the revised Resumption Fixtures Calendar information will be available on the BE website and we encourage you to check this carefully when planning your return to sport.  Those events who have already indicated they will not run are marked as cancelled, and we will work with our organisers to put in additional events and classes as necessary. 

What is the current situation regarding vaccinations? 

We will release further guidance shortly. 

What are BE intending to do about memberships and horse registrations? 

Separate communication will be issued in relation to membership and horse season tickets.  

We will continue to keep you all updated as we receive further guidance.


Jude Matthews