Horsemanship

The Show Must Go On

SHTX show COVID

Implementing an in-depth plan allowed Stock Horse of Texas to host one of the first major events in Texas after the COVID-19 shutdown. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect large events and equine gatherings, Jill Dunkel, executive director of Stock Horse of Texas, and her board of directors started making plans for their shows to go on. With Texas Governor Greg Abbott limiting event participants, many county or state-run equine facilities shut down, and multiple members in the “risk factor” age group, Dunkel knew that it would take plenty of preparation to safely host the stock horse shows. 

“We worked with several other equine groups, bouncing ideas off each other,” Dunkel says. “In the arenas, different in- and out-gates where people horseback weren’t coming through the same gate, things like that.”

The resulting plan went all the way to the Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller, and the governor. The association received approval to hold its first show after the shutdown, which cancelled two previously scheduled events. The “Back in the Saddle Again” show was held at Circle T Arena in Hamilton, Texas, June 19–21.

 The normal two-day schedule was increased to a third day of showing due to increased interest, Dunkel explained. It was one of the first big horse shows to be held in Texas this summer. 

 “We didn’t know when we started planning how many people would be economically impacted [from COVID-19], we didn’t know how many people would be concerned health-wise to come,” she says. “This show has just been busting at the seams.”

 After successfully hosting the event in Hamilton, SHTX has held shows in Belton and Sweetwater, and it is preparing to host a show in Amarillo. The social distancing measures were bolstered by SHTX branded face coverings sold at shows. 

 Watch Dunkel explain how the association got moving after the country shut down earlier this year. 

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