SAUGERTIES, N.Y.--HITS President and CEO, Tom Struzzieri is hopeful the HITS Summer Circuits can begin the week of June 1.
With this target start date, HITS will kick-off at HITS Chicago with the Spring Spectacular Series, June 3-21, and at HITS Saugerties with HITS-on-the-Hudson III, June 3-7.
“It’s the date I had circled on my calendar a month ago when we first knew horse shows were going to be suspended,” Struzzieri said. “We are cognizant of current conditions, but I am hoping the US response to the pandemic continues to gain traction and businesses will begin to open. HITS and our staff will be ready to provide the best and safest events possible.”
HITS will continue to work with USEF and State and Local governments to ensure opening and operating the shows is within all regulations and guidelines at the time.
HITS is also considering an updated class schedule to include additional days and additional rings to spread out density, as well as a “show-and-go” plan for those divisions that can be held on a single day, limiting the need for exhibitors to stay overnight in a hotel, or otherwise extend their time away from home.
“It’s no secret we will have to adapt to a new ‘normal’ going forward,” Struzzieri said. “I can’t express enough how important social distancing and other safety measures are to us, as it pertains to our staff working now, and to exhibitors, their families, our staff and others when events are back.”
WITH THAT in mind, HITS already has a list of Best Practices to put into action at the show in places people congregate most, such as the show office, restaurant and ingates.
Additionally, HITS is actively working on additional measures and taking cues from other sports and businesses to assure a level of confidence and protection for all.
HITS Best Practices include everything from simple measures such as hand sanitizer and facemasks available at the show office, restaurant and in-gates, to streamlining face-to-face contact in those areas as well.
HITS plans to transition as much interaction as possible in the show office to online and remote methods, while the restaurant will provide the majority of its offerings as pre-wrapped, grab-and-go items.
Markers indicating safe social distance will be found in high-traffic areas as well.
Daily Online Schedule Updates will help exhibitors plan when to be at the show rings, and extra sanitary steps will be taken to clean jumps cups in the schooling areas between uses.
The stabling area is one of the biggest concerns facing horse shows, but HITS has a plan to allow for extra room between trainer groups in both the permanent and temporary stalls, ensuring safe social distance.
HITS has also made the decision to cancel the FEI portion of the Saugerties June show precisely because of these stabling concerns.
“FEI requires horses to stable in a single, secured area where we would not be able to provide the space for safe social distancing,” said Struzzieri. “After consulting with several riders and officials on this topic, we felt we could not provide an environment suitable for human safety concerns in the current climate, so we will forego the FEI rating.”
The prize money planned for the FEI section will be re-allocated and a new class listing will be available soon.
HITS will continue to provide updates and details on its health and safety plans closer to the start of the shows.
"I believe this is a good target to aim for,” Struzzieri said. "Horse sport will make its return, and our staff is dedicated to making sure HITS is ready for you. Your health and well-being come first.”
The Prize Lists for the summer shows are available at HITSShows.com and will be updated with new class listings upon approval. In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact HITS.