By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, May 22, 2020–A jumper and hunter schooling event was staged at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Global show grounds Friday, one of the first competitions in the nation since most sports were suspended in mid-March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The general public was not admitted to the grounds, but one person in addition to rider, trainer and groom was allowed to accompany contestants.
While the re-opening of horse sport competition was beginning, the organizers of the Palm Beach Masters that hosted both World Cup and Nations Cup competitions just a few hundreds/meters from the Global grounds announced it was permanently ending the show because of the long-term impact of Covid-19.
There were 366 entries representing several nations in the first of three days of competition that along with another schooling show next week herald a return to U.S. federation approved events beginning in June.
The first approved dressage competitions are scheduled for June 5, one in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin with several others listed the same weekend beginning a day later.
Numerous monitors supplemented dozens of signs posted throughout the show grounds proclaiming six feet/1.8m distance between people competing in four arenas, including the centerpiece international arena that during the winter hosts the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
In Several hours at the show grounds, everything was seen to be working extremely smoothly.
Riders were not required to wear face masks during competition, but all others were.
Michael Stone, president of Equestrian Sport Productions that organizes competitions at Global and the larger facility that hosts the Winter Equestrian Festival, said no problems were encountered.
Three of the competition arenas were outdoors while the Van Kampen covered arena that has no walls to allow cross winds was also used.
Competitors were encouraged to handle all entries online and keep contact with the show office to a minimum.
The Palm Beach Masters was launched at Deeridge Farm in 2016 that became successful as a major series alongside Palm Beach International Equestrian Center that hosts the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and the Winter Equestrian Festival.
“From the beginning,” said Lou Jacobs, founder of the series, “my family was committed to producing a world-class event benefiting the most accomplished equestrians from across the globe. We are very proud of the series, which featured high-performance horse sport and a distinctive hospitality experience.”