BD Competition and Training Activity to Return in England from 29 March

British Dressage Winter Championships

BD Competition and Training Activity to Return in England from 29 March

  • Equestrian venues will be able to re-open for facility hire
  • All equestrian centres and riding schools will be allowed to re-open, with arena hire again permitted
  • All shows, training and regional camps can resume as normal from 21 June

The following in formation has been received for publication from British Equestrian (BEF) surrounding the recommencement of British Dressage competition and training activity. The following information is specified in accordance to Government guidelines and may alter over the coming months, updates will be published accordingly.

The outline plans for easing out of lockdown have now been announced by the governments in England and Scotland.  Organised competition and training activity will be able to return in England from 29 March, although in Scotland it is likely to be April before we will see a return to action.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the government’s roadmap for the easing of the current lockdown in England on Monday January 22 and confirmed that organised sport can restart from 29 March onwards. British Dressage (BD) organised training and competition activity will therefore get back underway in England from this date, in line with the COVID protocols previously put in place, while all equestrian venues will be able to re-open for facility hire.

A number of steps were detailed, with indicative dates set at five week intervals.  The lifting of restrictions at each stage will be dependent on meeting criteria around infection rates and the continued success of the vaccination programme, as well as an assessment of risks for any new coronavirus variants.

As an overview, we’ve listed the key steps for England and what that means for BD activity:

Step One – Part A                                                                                                                            From 8 March

  • Two people can meet outdoors to socialise, not just for exercise purposes.

Coaches can continue to travel for one-to-one training activity in private facilities or livery yards where the horse resides.  Members can continue to travel to where their horse resides to look after their welfare, including for exercise.

Step One – Part B                                                                                                                            From 29 March

  • Groups of up to six people or two households can meet outdoors
  • Outdoor sports facilities will be able to re-open and organised sport can resume
  • Stay at home order will be lifted, although people will still be encouraged to stay local.

BD organised competition training and activity will resume in England from this date onwards.  All equestrian centres and riding schools will be allowed to re-open, with arena hire again permitted.

Step Two                                                                                                                                             From 12 April

  • Non-essential retail can re-open, including hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons
  • Indoor gyms and leisure facilities, libraries, zoos and theme parks can re-open
  • Food and drink can be served outdoors in pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes
  • Self-contained accommodation can re-open and self-catering holidays permitted.

From this stage onwards, you will be able to stay away from home in your own facilities or in self-catering accommodation in order to attend multi-day shows and competitions.  On-site retail shops and trade stands will be permitted to re-open at venues, while catering outlets will be able to serve food and drinks outside, not just for takeaway.

Step Three                                                                                                                                          From 17 May

  • Most social contact restrictions lifted outdoors
  • Groups of up to 30 people are permitted outdoors
  • Up to six people or two households will be able to meet indoors
  • Indoor hospitality can re-open, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs
  • Large indoor sporting events will be allowed, with a capacity of 1,000 people
  • Outdoor sporting events will have a maximum capacity of 50%, or up to 4,000 people.

At this point, we anticipate that spectators will again be allowed to attend competitions and shows, although numbers may still be limited depending on the size of venue.  On-site catering outlets may serve meals indoors. Restrictions on international travel will potentially be lifted from this date, which would allow riders to attend overseas shows to compete.

Step Four                                                                                                                                            From 21 June    

  • All legal limits on social contact removed
  • Restrictions on large events will be lifted.

All shows, training and regional camps can resume as normal, although the government will be reviewing social distancing rules, the mandatory use of face masks and other testing provisions at this stage, prior to lifting restrictions.


Scotland will progressively move from national restrictions back to the regional level system over the coming weeks, with reviews taking place every three weeks. While there was no specific reference to the resumption of sporting activity for adults, we would hope and anticipate that organised competition and training activity will be able to restart from 26 April onwards at the latest.

From 15 March

  • Next phase of return of children to school
  • Non-contact outdoor sports to return for 12-17 year olds
  • Four people from two households allowed to mix outdoors.

From 5 April

  • Stay at home restrictions can be lifted, all schools to return
  • Up to six people from two households will be able to meet together
  • Easing of restrictions on indoor household gatherings can begin
  • All essential retail can re-open, with restrictions on click and collect services lifted.

From 26 April

  • Scotland will return to the Level system of restrictions
  • Country to move from Level 4 into Level 3 restrictions initially
  • There will be a phased return of non-essential retail
  • Some hospitality, leisure venues and gyms can re-open
  • International travel restrictions will remain in place.

The team at British Dressage is now working to map the key government target dates against a more detailed operational plan, to cover all aspects of the sport.  A number of options for competitions, qualifications and championships have been drawn up and are now being shaped into our own recovery roadmap for all stakeholder groups, which will be published next week.

There are still a number of areas where we are seeking further clarification from our partners at UK Sport, Sport England, sportscotland and horsescotland, which will be incorporated into these plans.  The next review stage for the easing of lockdown restrictions in Wales is due on 12 March, when we hope to have further details on the timescales for the return of sport for our Welsh members.

Please note that when BD competition and training restarts, the COVID protocols and guidance previously provided in our stakeholder toolkits will continue to apply.  All of these documents will be reviewed and updated where necessary prior to the resumption of activity.

BD Chief Executive Jason Brautigam commented;

This is the news we’ve been waiting for and, although we still have to wait a number of weeks before organised sport can begin again, we do now at least have some indicative dates to enable us to plan ahead more effectively.  While we do of course have to proceed with a degree of caution, these roadmaps do provide a clearer path for us to follow from April onwards.

The team at BDHQ is now finalising an operational plan for the resumption of activity, based on the various dates and options we had already prepared.  It’s now a case of pulling everything together with our organisers and venues to produce an achievable programme of fixtures that will benefit all members, whatever their level, goals and aims are for the remainder of 2021. We hope to unveil this next week, so you can begin planning your campaigns for the season ahead, return to active training and start to get competition ready.

I’m proud of the resilience shown by the dressage community over the past year, particularly during these long winter months – and it now feels that, thanks to a great deal of patience and fortitude, we can finally see light at the end of the tunnel.  We all still have a part to play to help achieve each step or phase in the relaxation of restrictions, but we can all share in renewed optimism that it’s now only a matter of weeks until we return to some semblance of normality.”

Over the coming weeks, the current – and legally enforceable – restrictions must be adhered to, until your respective national government confirms any specific changes.  Please continue to support and follow the restrictions, as it will help to ensure we can get our sport underway safely in the indicated timeframes.

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