HITS: It’s Not Just A Horse Show
Last week HITS horse shows and the community that surrounds it were at odds. If you followed the local news or social media, it wasn't hard to find the controversy. Basically, it came down to people in the community worried about the amount of people that were arriving to the show grounds who were believe to be from out of the Hudson Valley and apparently from areas around the country with COVID spikes. Before HITS could get their events underway last week they were served an order to shutdown until the matter could be looked at by the county.
Since that order much has happened including this video statement released on July 1st by Tom Struzzieri, HITS President and CEO. July 1st was to be the original start date for this series at HITS. HITS did actually get underway apparently today, with part of their competition according to the plan they shared on their Facebook page.
Every summer for the the past 16 years HITS has called Saugerties it's home in New York. For those who don't follow the Hunter Jumper horse show world, HITS is a series of horse show that is held around the United States throughout the year. HITS is an acronym for Horse Shows in the Sun. These equestrian competitions that are sanctioned by the USEF, who governs equestrian sports in the United States, along with other International agencies. Over the years top level equestrians including Olympic riders have competed on the show grounds at HITS.
The series of shows that typically runs from May through September also includes local level horse shows for Hudson Valley residents. I have never had the chance to compete at HITS, my horse showing days were over long before HITS moved into the Hudson Valley. However, I have known a lot of local equestrians who have enjoyed being able to show at a facility the caliper of HITS. Not every kid with a pony has a parent who can afford to send them all over the nation to compete. I also had an opportunity to work at HITS for a few season as a ring announcer.
So why am I sharing all of this information with you about HITS? Simple, when I was reading through all the comments last week that people had shared on Facebook I saw a lot of people who were legitimately concerned about what a gathering of this size could mean to their community, but I also saw comments that were inaccurate. As the proud recipient of an Associates Degree of Applied Science in Equine Management from SUNY Delhi I could not sit by and say nothing when something like HITS is referred to as "just a horse show".
HITS and it's series of horse shows is just one example of many that make up the United States Equine Industry which has been hit hard like everyone else by the COVID 19 outbreak. The industry as a whole has taken the outbreak very seriously. The USEF suspended all competition on March 15th and only brought it back under strict guidelines in the last few weeks in the Hudson Valley. None of the people that I know in the industry are taking the outbreak or the precautions needed to compete lightly.
What seems like just a horse show to some is actually a very structured industry that employees many people year round. The equestrian industry as a whole employs a vast group of people, but don't take my word for it check out the stats from the Equine Business Association in 2017. According to them it's a $122 billion business that employs 1.74 million people and is responsible for 7.2 million horses. The competition sector is responsible for 32% of that total.
So yes we all need to be safe and be responsible but we all must also realize that not everyone's world looks like ours. Let's give people the chance to be responsible before we assume that they won't and believe that we can all get back to doing what we love.