Riding & Showing in the Era of COVID-19

It’s going to take a lot more than a global pandemic to keep horsewomen and men away from the barn. After months of quarantine, which includes some barn closures, horse lovers across the country are starting to venture out to the trails and the show arenas to enjoy their horses.

Things just look a little different now.

At the Show

If you’re looking to attend a horse show during the age of COVID-19 safety protocols, it’s important to be prepared and be prepared early.

  • Most shows are now only taking entries online, to try to eliminate the lines and large crowds at the show office.
  • Patterns are either posted online ahead of the show or posted as one piece of paper at the show office. Exhibitors are invited to come up and take a photo of the patterns on their phones, thus eliminating the amount of touching people might have on paperwork.
  • Concessions might be limited, closed, or very limited in their offerings. It’s best (for your pocketbook and your waistline) to plan to bring your own lunches, snacks, and drinks for the show day.
  • Limited spectators. Some shows might not be open to spectators (except for maybe family members). Make sure you check with the show management before inviting others.
  • Barns and stalling might be limited. Some shows, if they are day shows, might not allow exhibitors to use stalls, but instead, show out of their trailers. If they are allowing the use of stalls, they could be spread out to put distance between groups.
  • Masks most are required in most enclosed or common spaces. Regulations for mask-wearing will vary from state to state, city to city, and facility to facility. So be prepared to have plenty of masks for everyone attending and know the rules so you’re keeping everyone safe.

At the Barn

As with shows, every barn is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic the best way possible for them. Some states might still have a limit as to the number of people allowed in one central area, so barn parties and hanging around the barn for hours could be a thing of the past, at least for now anyway.


  • Horses will have their own equipment, and sharing may be against the rules. So make sure you have all of your equipment in one central location, that you have everything you need, and perhaps pack extras.
  • Some boarding barns may have scheduled time slots for owners to come to ride their horses and care for them. This is to limit the number of people in one location and encourage social distancing.
  • Barns may provide hand sanitizer in multiple locations, but it’s still recommended that you provide your own at your stall or tack box, along with cleaning wipes to wipe down items that are touched daily (stall lock, water bucket handle, manure pick, etc.).

Above all, the best thing to pack for the show, trail, or just at the barn is an extra ounce of patience and positivity. Realize that everyone is battling the same thing right now: complete unprecedented times.

There is no rulebook set for how we should handle the pandemic, but the best way is to work together and remember that everything you do not only affects your health but the health of your family, friends, barn mates, and fellow competitors.


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