Returning to Equestrian Facilities

May 15, 2020

Dear Members, 

On May 14, 2020, following Premier Ford’s address from Queen’s Park, the Province of Ontario issued its Detailed List of Stage 1 Openings – A Framework for Reopening Our Province.  
There are three issues in this release which affect our Members:

  • Regarding Boarders;
  • Resumption of Outdoor Recreational Sports Activities; and
  • Resumption of Competition.

1.  Regarding Boarders
Under the heading “Animal Services” effective Saturday, May 16, 2020, businesses that board animals (i.e., Stables) may allow boarders to visit, care for, or ride their animal. This is a clarification of the comments made by the Solicitor General on May 8, 2020 which were reported to you earlier this week. It is also an important matter regarding the next point (Resumption of Outdoor Recreational Activities).

2.  Resumption of Outdoor Recreational Sports Activities
Under the heading “Individual recreational sports”, effective May 19, 2020outdoor recreational sports centres for sports not played in teams will open with limited access to facilities (i.e., no clubhouse, no change rooms, washrooms and emergency aid only). Horse riding facilities are listed as an example.
Ontario Equestrian (OE) and Equestrian Canada (EC) have been advocating hard for the Equestrian Industry to be included in Stage 1 of the Province’s Reopening and we are delighted with this outcome. However, there are a few key facts for Members to bear in mind:

  1. This is for Outdoor Recreational Sports Centres. Indoor facilities, including indoor arenas remain closed.
  2. The limit of five people, socially distanced, in any single gathering remains in effect. This means that Group Lessons can resume, as long as there are no more than five people (including the coach) in the Outdoor Arena at one time. Access to the barn is not permitted. Therefore, tacking up of horses must take place outside or by staff inside who bring the horse outside to the rider.
  3. Except for boarders (see below) access to the barn is not permitted.
  4. Following from the permission for Boarders to attend their horses, care for them and ride them from May 16, 2020 forward, Boarders may visit their horses and tack them up. Our recommendation is that this be done in an individual stall and not in a common area and observing the limit of five people in any area at one time.

For greater certainty, we believe that the “five person limit” applies to “a gathering” on a property and not to the entire property at one time. That is for example, there may be five people in the outdoor arena while there are other staff in the barn or elsewhere. Care should be taken not to overlap lessons which would break this limit.

3. Resumption of Competition 
Under the heading “Individual sports competitions without spectators” effective May 19, 2020, the following will be permitted:
Professional and amateur sport activity for individual/single competitors, including training and competition conducted:

  • by a recognized Provincial Sport Organization (i.e., Ontario Equestrian),
  • by a recognized National Sport Organization (i.e., Equestrian Canada), or
  • by recognized national Provincial training centres,
  • with return to play protocols in place and no spectators, except for an accompanying guardian for a person under the age of 18 years,
  • including indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played under physical distancing measures (including horse racing).

This is a complex area and one that we are carefully defining with EC. As you are aware both EC and OE have suspended all sanctioned competitions and other activities until June 30, 2020. We are actively engaged in developing the appropriate return to competition protocols, and will be issuing further guidance on this in the coming days.

In closing, we are delighted with this outcome and the fact that the Equestrian Industry is included In Stage 1 of the opening of the Province. In that regard we urge Members to familiarize themselves with the guidance we provided in our Guide to Reopening Equine Businesses in Ontario When Permitted document, and EC’s COVID-19 Return to Business Operations Framework when reopening their facilities including the best practices in biosecurity and social distancing that are recommended.

Should you have additional questions, please contact us directly at:

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