Ottawa, ON, May 21, 2020 – Equestrian Canada (EC) is pleased to announce the launch of the Return to Competition Guidelines for the Sport Horse Following a Break in Training Due to COVID-19.

Many sport horses across the country have been partially or fully out of training due to varying restrictions relating to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This pause in training impacts the horse’s ability to return to competition safely and gradually.

As provinces and territories start to lift restrictions relating to COVID-19, all equestrian sport participants have a responsibility to ensure that horses return to an appropriate fitness level before re-entering competition. The Return to Competition Guidelines for Sport Horses provide guidance to that effect.


A working group of equestrian experts designed the guidelines to help athletes, coaches, trainers and owners determine their horse’s current level of fitness and identify a reconditioning plan moving forward. Research indicates that horses start to lose fitness after four weeks out of training and may lose all fitness if out of training for more than 12 weeks. The guidelines provide both general and discipline-specific principles and sample reconditioning plans based off this timeline.

“Returning to sport takes thought and time for equine as well as human athletes,” said James Hood, EC Director of High Performance and FEI Relationships. “Each horse will be at various stages of fitness due to the pandemic and we need to ensure that they are set up for a safe return. Logical and progressive reconditioning will help to reduce the potential for injury during the return to competition.”

Hood added, “This all based on when clearance is given from the appropriate government authority to allow for the return to competition.”

Remember to follow the health guidelines provided by your local, regional, provincial/territorial and federal governments as you resume activity, as these agencies or their designees are responsible for determining when and how each area of the country reopens. Additionally, all return to competition will be dictated by the applicable government bodies based on the state of COVID-19 in your jurisdiction.

When returning to any level of activity, sport or competition, remember to consider and follow biosecurity best practices to protect the health and welfare of both your own horse(s) and the national herd.

For questions regarding the Return to Competition for Sport Horses Guidelines, contact James Hood at [email protected].

EC’s complete statement on COVID-19, including regular updates, can be found on our website here. For a list of important COVID-19 resources, visit our COVID-19 Resources page. Want to help save Canadian working horses? Visit our COVID-19 Response page