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Covid-19... EHV-1... The Dutch Masters makes it work!

Tuesday, 27 April 2021
The Dutch Masters 2021

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. The stables at The Dutch Masters had to be built up in compliance with the FEI's Return To Competition-measures, which were introduced at the end of March following the EHV-1 outbreak. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

On Saturday, Frank Kemperman – sports director of The Dutch Masters – took the few accredited members of the media on a stable tour, where he also informed about the EHV-1 measures that had been put in place for this year’s edition of the event.  

Last year, The Dutch Masters was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A year later, the organising committee was ready with a Covid-secure event, but was again forced into cancellation – due to the EHV-1 outbreak that originated in Valencia, Spain, in February. Despite a mountain of challenges, including the FEI's newly introduced Return To Competition-measures, the organisers managed to reschedule The Dutch Masters and pull off an indoor five-star show in compliance with Covid-19 protocols and EHV-1 measures.

Illustration © The Dutch Masters Before entering The Dutch Masters-venue, everyone had to follow these steps: First registration, before it was time for the mandatory Covid-tests. Ahead of arrival, a PCR test had to be made, and on the first day of visiting the event, rapid tests were done as well as temperatures being checked. After a negative test result, everyone was given a Bestronics-device to wear at all times – which made a sound if people got closer to each other than 1.5 meters. When this all was done and cleared, the accreditation for the day was handed over. Over the following days, there were also mandatory temperature checks.

As a consequence of the EHV-1 outbreak, the stables at The Dutch Masters had for this year’s edition been divided into two halls, as the FEI has introduced new requirements for stabling of horses that share the same airspace overnight. “Every rider has three boxes, then there is a tack-box for that rider followed by a tack-box for another rider and then that rider’s three boxes,” Kemperman explained about the set-up. “First we prepared everything for the Covid-situation and then we had to prepare everything for the Rhino-situation.” 

“The ventilation here has also been completely renewed because of Covid, and this is of course also good for the horses,” Kemperman added.  

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. Every rider had three boxes and then a tack-box. If a rider asked for a double box for one or more horses, like in this case with Christian Ahlmann, they got a whole row for themselves.

Before the horses arrived for The Dutch Masters, all stables were cleaned, disinfected and sealed – as required by the FEI's Return To Competition measures. First when the horses were cleared upon the mandatory arrival check, could they enter the stables with the grooms unsealing the boxes. “We informed the grooms and riders that arrival was only possible on Thursday between 14-17,” Kemperman explained about the routines. “The first step when everyone arrived was to do the Covid-testing and registration. Then we took the horses out to measure their temperatures, and we had to take one truck at the time. The problem was that we had to check the horses on one truck before we could start with the next. So, one groom came with three horses and these three had to be unloaded and checked, then moved into the stable area with all the equipment before we could start with the next truck. This obviously took a lot of time, but after an hour we got a routine, and everyone was very understanding and patient.” 

Horses with a temperature of 38,5 degrees or less were allowed in the stable, and no horses were above this limit. Kemperman explained that the horses’ temperatures had to be monitored throughout the event and recorded on a document that was kept visible outside the boxes.  

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. Temperatures had to measured twice a day for every horse and filed on a document that was visible outside each box.

Of course, The Dutch Masters also had quarantine stables ready. “We have built several empty boxes in other halls of this huge building and then we have another stable 40 km from there that is empty. There we could have brought the horses if they weren’t allowed to enter here,” Kemperman said about one of the many the additional challenges brought on by the EHV-1 outbreak. 

All the riders continuously praised the organisers for their efforts in making the event safe for horses and humans. On Friday's press conference, world no. two Daniel Deusser commented: “I have to say, that the sponsors together with the organisers did a fantastic job here and even though we have no public, the atmosphere is still great. All the riders feel the same; it is something special to ride here and it special to be able to do our sport again."

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping. The horses had lots and lots of space at this year's edition of The Dutch Masters. No contact between horses from different riders was possible. This also made the stable very quiet and relaxed.

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