This page gives the latest updates from The Pony Club's Interim CEO, Marcus Capel. You may also wish to check out the following pages:
- Help and Advice - advice from various bodies and answers to some frequently asked questions
- Creative Activities - activity ideas for members, branches and centres, as well as links to shared resources
- Sports and Competitions - updates on the status of Pony Club competitions and information on what each sport has planned
In preparation for the lock down easing and the resumption of activities The Pony Club has created an operational plan, which has been designed to guide our members, branches, centres, staff and volunteers on the journey to resume all activities over time. At the heart of our phased approach is the welfare and safety of everyone involved in The Pony Club.
To download the plan please click below:
Dear Members, parents and carers
Thank you all for your continued support to our Branches and Centres as they work hard to put on activities and continue to offer such a range of opportunities.
Our Pony Club activities are able to continue to run as they are organised events, run within approved guidance from us, as a national governing body. I am sure you will support all our volunteers and staff in the additional precautions and processes necessary to keep our fun training and competitions happening.
We must continue to adhere to local lockdown restrictions, which supersede national guidance. Where these are not in place, I have summarised the current national guidance for each devolved government below. In addition, there is a summary table available here.
Virtual Royal Windsor
I hope you have enjoyed engaging with the Great British Week of Sport. We finish this week with the livestreaming of the Virtual Royal Windsor Home International Dressage. Congratulations to all the team members, we look forward to seeing the exciting competition. We will be streaming the competition live on our Facebook page all weekend, the Dressage is shown on Sunday at 2pm.
Spring Festival Qualifiers
Many Branches and Centres are now organising qualifiers for the Spring Festival, to be held over the coming months in preparation for the Area rounds. Keep a look out for opportunities to compete in Dressage, Show Jumping and the new Arena Eventing.
The postponed final of the National Quiz is going to be held virtually on the 14th November 2020. Further details will be coming shortly. In addition, the National Quiz will be used to select a GB quiz team to represent us in the International Quiz, planned to be held online on the 5th December 2020.
Following the announcements this week, it has been confirmed that organised sports and leisure activities that have been through “return to play” protocols approved by devolved governments CAN continue.
As a national organisation, The Pony Club has been through this process alongside fellow equestrian governing bodies in the BEF. Therefore, training activities and competitions can continue to be run, exempt from national social gathering restrictions. Please be aware that there may be local authority restrictions or lockdown requirements in place which will supersede national guidance.
Our current guidance still applies, the “rule of six” prevents any social gathering of more than 6 people, indoors or outdoors, in England. Organised outdoor activities can continue with numbers exceeding 6, with risk assessments and COVID-19 precautions in place. The continued guidance is to minimise numbers on site and run without additional spectators. Indoor sports can continue, provided that the number of people aged over 18 is limited to six. In England “covered arenas” have been approved by the Government as an outdoor activity area. "You are allowed to visit venues like a riding club to exercise which includes the use of large, open and well-ventilated equestrian covered arenas (these are sometimes termed ‘indoor’ arenas by equestrians but due to their size and ventilation are not considered indoor for the purposes of this guidance)."
Below is a summary of what can continue (ref. Sport England https://www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/coronavirus )
- Outdoor sports played formally and under government-approved guidance
- Outdoor sport and physical activity events following event-organiser guidance
- Informal indoor or outdoor sport and physical activity in groups of six or fewer while social distancing and following government guidance, and guidance from the sport’s governing body.
- Indoor sports involving children aged under 18, played formally and under government-approved guidance
- Use of indoor sport and leisure facilities, including gyms and swimming pools
- Organised indoor activities or exercise classes (these can take place in larger numbers, provided groups of more than six do not mix and the facility meets the government’s indoor facility guidance)
The Government has just launched the NHS COVID-19 App which can be used to scan QR codes in England and Wales. https://covid19.nhs.uk/ businesses such as riding centres need to generate and display a QR code for attendees to scan with the app. Branches can also use this for rallies and events if they wish to support the track and trace. It does not remove the need to keep track and trace records in compliance with the return to play protocols.
New restrictions have been put in place for private households in Northern Ireland: mixing of households in a private dwelling is not allowed and only 6 people from up to 2 households can meet in a private garden. Gatherings not organised by an equestrian organisation, riding school or equestrian centre are limited to a maximum of 15 indoors or outdoors. This would include leisure/recreational riders gathering informally.
Organised indoor or outdoor equestrian activities can continue, with no limit on numbers and with spectators able to attend, provided that:
- the organiser complies with the relevant legislation
- undertakes a risk assessment
- takes all reasonable measure to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.
For indoor competitive activities, the relevant facility should not be capable of holding more than 5000 spectators.
Link to the health protection regulations: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/health-protection-coronavirus-restrictions-no2-regulations-northern-ireland-2020
The First minister announced on 22nd September a tightening of restrictions, preventing people from visiting other households indoors. 2 households, up to 6 people can meet outdoors. Under 12yrs do not count towards the number limit. 12-18yrs must keep to the limit of 6 people but are exempt from the 2-household restriction.
The major changes for equestrian activities are:
- we should not exceed 200 people in any one day, at competitions, training and events, including organisers, officials and participants.
- Activities scheduled to return on 5th October have been delayed, including indoor contact sports for 12 and over.
It is recommended that the Protect Scotland App is used to help reduce the spread of the virus. www.protect.scot
In Scotland, “covered arenas” have been approved by the Government as an outdoor activity area.
Horsescotland guidance https://www.horsescotland.org/equestrianphaseguidance
In Wales, only 1 household or extended household can meet indoors, up to 6 people, not including children under 11 or carers. Up to 30 people are allowed to gather outdoors with social distancing.
For organised activities, up to 30 people can gather indoors or outdoors. Coaches now must wear a facemask indoors when teaching, riders are exempt as they are deemed as ‘exercising’. Please check that any indoor school used has followed the guidance from the local authority and their insurance company.
The pilot trials of sports with up to 500 people in Wales has been paused.
Dear Branch Officials and Centre Proprietors
In this update:
- Local Lockdown
- First Aid and CPD requirements extension
I have summarised the current level of restrictions across the UK in a table, which can be accessed here. I hope this helps clarify the current social and sporting guidance where possible. In addition to the guidance for the four home nations, there are different local conditions in place for The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
Some areas of the country have just been placed under specific local lockdown restrictions by the Government, which take priority over the general, national guidance. Some local councils have allowed sport and leisure activities to continue provided they are organised by a National Governing Body, such as The Pony Club, in a risk assessed COVID-19 secure environment. Please ensure you check your local council restrictions carefully and follow them accordingly.
Thank you for all the hard work and ingenuity being used to run activities in these challenging times. It is because we have proven that we can run in a COVID-secure way, minimising the risk of transmission of the virus, that we can now continue with our training and events.
First Aid Qualification: further 3-month extension
The current extension for renewing first aid training was due to end on 30th September 2020. This followed the advice of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which currently states that to qualify for the extension you must be able to:
- Explain why you haven’t been able to re-qualify
- Demonstrate what steps you have taken to access the training, if asked to do so.
Although face to face first aid courses are up and running, in many areas there has not been the course availability. We are therefore extending the first aid requirement for a further 3 months until the end of the year, 31st December 2020. You should make every effort to update your training in this time. Online refresher courses are available, which are valid for 12 months. This may be a good option to take the pressure off finding a face to face course if necessary. A reminder that a coach with an expired first aid certificate can still teach, providing that there is an official with an up-to-date first aid qualification present.
We are reviewing the CPD requirement deadline, also currently extended up to the end of the year. There are many Pony Club CPD opportunities online, listed on our website, further sessions and topics are planned. In addition, there are several BHS CPD opportunities that may be appropriate, please check with your Area Rep or the office.
Disclosure checks and Safeguarding training can be undertaken online so these must be kept in date.
Implications for Pony Club activities regarding the new legal restrictions in England
The government has announced new restrictions in England which limit social gatherings to a maximum of six people from Monday 14th September.
The government has also confirmed that organised sport and leisure activity, run by organisations that have published “return to play” protocols and related guidance can continue without the new restriction in numbers. The Pony Club has been involved in discussions with and submission of plans to the government alongside fellow British Equestrian members right from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Our organised sport, including training, can therefore continue provided we all stringently stick to the agreed measures that make our activities “COVID secure”, minimising the risk of transmission of the virus. If we do not all comply with the government requirements, there is the possibility of our activities being stopped.
Branches and Centres must follow the COVID-19 guidance, including the legal requirement of recording attendees at activities to support the NHS Test and Trace programme. Data should be held for 21 days, then safely destroyed and should be handled in accordance with GDPR. In addition, there may be local restrictions put in place by local authorities that need to be followed.
Riders meeting informally, for example going for a hack together, must legally abide by the restriction of six people or fewer.
Our updated guide for organising Pony Club activities, including rallies and competitions, can be found above.
The British Equestrian statement can be found here.
There are some localised restrictions being put in place in Northern Ireland regarding group sizes. At this point, organised activity, run with clear risk assessments and COVID precautions are exempt from the social grouping size restriction but must be run with stringent plans in place to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus.
Scotland and Wales
Currently there are no changes in group size in Wales or Scotland.