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SHOWPARK - STATE SHUTDOWN
Kathy Hobstetter - an opinion piece
People in the horse community are crying 'foul' at the latest action by 22nd DAA regarding the facility at Showpark. The quick, and unplanned, shutdown has taken the equestrian community by surprise...BUT IT SHOULD NOT HAVE!
The threat to permanently shutdown for the Showpark facility started a long time ago but horsemen are only now organizing and planning to jump into action in an effort to save it...we need to save it, hopefully we are not too late!!
We have stood by and watched the signs come and go over several years. The facility maintenance and capital improvements needed to keep it in shape started to decline several years ago. On site state staff and management was cut to a small base staff and recently even Skip and most of those were let go.
Many years ago, Robert Ridland, and his Blenheim Equisports management, put an amazing amount of money digging the old, sad field way down and replacing it from the ground up - installing some of the best grass base in the nation. It still has that designation in the sport of showjumping.
A few years ago, boarding rules and rates changed drastically and most barns and businesses vacated OR re-negotiated the contracts at their deficit. BUT the state involvement stepped way back in being partners with those that stayed. Private boarders all but disappeared.
The homeless housing proposed project was introduced as being located on the west side of Showpark...then it was moved, then it was back and now that project is in limbo!
Current situation.... Then joined in the COVID issue, the limiting for number of horses showing and a lack of money for the 22nd DAA for both Showpark and the fairgrounds.
The state cut the entire 22nd DAA staffing to less than a 'skeleton crew' and also laid off an incredible amount of workers when COVID hit.
It was happening all along and horse people failed to take notice or unite and certainly even appear to care as long as showing continued. OF COURSE WE CARED!!! But we sort of stood by and waited for someone else to do the work and save it, never really believing it could be in permanent closure jeopardy.
WELL, we better get busy and we better take the blindfolds off, and we better get educated and involved. And, in my opinion we better be smart and clear.
SIGN THE PETITION!! To date there are only about 8000 signatures and that is simply not enough. Compare that number to the population of California and it is a mere tiny drop in the bucket...get ALL horse people to sign that and stand up!
SIGN UP TO SPEAK AT THE NEXT 22nd DAA MEETING...lets get busy together.
Please feel free to use the contact us block to reply with your comments or opinions or suggestions.
Continued from Home page
As 2020 comes to a close, US Equestrian extends our sincere appreciation to all of our competition participants, officials, and organizers for their unwavering commitment to following the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan. We have all experienced a tremendous amount of disruption and change to our daily lives this year. The efforts each and every one of you have made to wear face coverings, socially distance, and frequently wash your hands and avoid indoor social gatherings have been paramount to allowing the safe return of many equestrian competitions during the ongoing pandemic. The ability to have competitions continue has been a bright spot for participants and has kept many people who make their living in the equestrian industry employed.
USEF Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mark Hart, who has been working closely with CDC and WHO officials, strongly encourages members to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as availability allows. “Thanks to the unprecedented global collaboration of the scientific and pharmaceutical communities over this past year, we now have safe and incredibly effective vaccines. It can’t be emphasized enough, the role that vaccines will play in bringing this pandemic under control by achieving earlier ‘herd immunity’ (70-85% of the population) and hence, a return to some sense of normality in our personal and professional lives. While it could be late Spring before the vaccine is widely available to the general public, we could potentially achieve umbrella immunity here in the US by late summer or early fall 2021. While there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for ending this pandemic, we are still facing several more months of high COVID-19 infection and death rates until the curve is flattened with increasing vaccination numbers. We all have a role in preventing many of these intervening infections by continuing to closely adhere to well established public health measures, (keeping masks on, social distancing, good handwashing and avoiding indoor social gatherings) as well as getting vaccinated as soon as it is available to you.
“There is concern among public health officials that there is some hesitancy by segments of our society to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Those individuals should be assured that the review and approval process has been independent and transparent, made by scientific and public health experts who have no allegiance to the federal government or pharmaceutical companies. Another concern is the recent reports of new ‘strains’ of COVID-19. Like all RNA viruses, the COVID-19 virus has had some expected and naturally occurring genetic variants documented, which to date have been seen to be more ‘transmittable’ but possibly less lethal. Fortunately, there is no evidence that the current approved vaccines will not be effective against these observed variants. There are multiple ongoing surveillance programs worldwide to monitor these genetic 'drift' mutations and possible considerations for vaccines.”
While vaccines may not substantially decrease the COVID infection rates for at least the next 3-4 months, active preparations are ongoing for the day when we can gradually allow USEF competitions to host spectators once again. We are currently developing the necessary protocols to evaluate when this can safely occur. The hope is that once COVID infections are under better control, we will be able to permit a restricted level of spectators. This goal will be subject to certain public health conditions as well as all applicable local and state requirements. For the time being, spectators will continue to be prohibited from USEF-licensed competition grounds. The USEF recognizes the disappointment faced by the many fans who enjoy the sport, as well as the countless owners who have missed the thrill and excitement of being an active and crucial participant in the development of their horses. Their continued support is greatly appreciated and has allowed our riders and horses to continue to reach their goals in an otherwise uncertain year.
While we cautiously look ahead to reopening events to spectators, the ability to ease the Action Plan requirements is contingent upon the continued progress in controlling the spread of the virus. We must all diligently follow the current Action Plan mandates in order to continue to achieve the success we have seen since restarting limited competitions last June.
Thank you for your continued support of the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan and our community effort to keep our sport open. Please continue to refer to the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan for further updates.
Help Save the Horsepark
Join the Friends of Del Mar Horsepark and stop the permanent closure of our region’s only PUBLIC equestrian sports facility and last remaining public riding schools.
EQUESTRIANS UNITE – JUST AN OPINION PIECE
Kathy Hobstetter, December 22, 2020
Very rarely an issue comes along that just about every horse owner in the state can get behind. The news last week regarding the equestrian facility at Showpark, Del Mar, has been one of those issues. Horsemen across the southland and further have gotten united in their effort to save the show facility and have their voices heard.
There are almost as many opinions about the reasons for the closure as there are horsemen fighting to save the facility. With no notice whatsoever, the place is closed with a short notice for boarders to vacate.
BUT HOLD ON, is that really what happened so fast or do horsemen keep their head in the sand till it is almost too late when it comes to these types of irresponsible actions by government agencies. People tend to believe that someone else is watching the hen house when in reality, no one is.
When the 22nd DAA cancelled the 3 show spectacular in May that has been around for decades, that should have been a ‘heads up’, but we were just sad and went on to the next show. And the pandemic went on and the money continued to run out.
This has been building for quite sometime and the recent action by ‘water conservationists’ and water quality guidelines kicked the threat of closure into high gear. The bottom line is money and where to get it and what to spend it on. In a time of this pandemic when there are families and businesses in dire financial straits, the survival of California residents is threatened as we all know.
NOW FOR THE NOT SO POPULAR CONVERSATION
The Pandemic has created a perfect storm for the situation we are in. The fairgrounds income has slowly, but definitely, ground to an almost complete stop. No fair, no trade shows, no activities that generate ‘enough’ money are happening on either part of the 22nd DAA grounds. Of course there were a few horse shows, but those do not generate enough to pay the bills and keep vital staff working. Without a complete staff, the possibility of problems, and lawsuits, become high risk.
Just last summer, a GIANT lawsuit was filed regarding children at the 2019 Fair petting zoo contacting E.coli. While this is grinding its way through the courts, and the attorneys, the costs of just defending the fairgrounds climbs. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent just defending! While not voicing in on the aspects of that issue, I will just say it is terribly costly and the costs the 22nd DAA cannot walk away from. There are additional issues that I will not detail here, but search the internet and they can be found.
AND NOW THE REALITY ZINGER THAT PEOPLE WILL NOT REALLY LIKE AND UNDOUBTEDLY WILL GET MAD AT ME ABOUT! This is about general public perception, not reality, and certainly NOT how I see this issue!!!
While families are losing their homes, their jobs, their businesses and any way of finding new jobs to make simple survival possible, horse people are fighting to save expensive horse shows and places to board ‘expensive’ horses.
I have been in the horse business since the 60’s and do not agree with the radical approach by the 22nd DAA to the shut down, I am just voicing the opposition out there and the way they see our sport. I am sure horse people know we are considered in an ‘elitist sport’ with horses and the cost to purchase, and cost to care for, rising. The public is struggling to feed their children and do not see the benefits of this facility as we do, they see it as a group of entitled people fighting for what they want. And they see us continuing to show and travel down the road while they are being told to STAY HOME and hope grandma brings dinner for the kids. Sorry, but that is the public reality!
AND NOW THE REALITY...
WHAT DO I THINK WOULD BE A ‘GOOD ACTION’ FOR NOW??
The petition started to save the fairgrounds is an ideal start. It is well written and has specific steps that can help keep the fairgrounds safe during the rest of the pandemic. PLEASE go there and follow up, and donate even if it is only a few dollars. It will take everyone being proactive and unified!!
PROCEED QUICKLY WITH CAUTION
Now is the time for action and unity with the horsemen. This is not the time for radical actions or negative name calling. Now will not be the time at the next Board meeting for yelling and fist pounding and loud accusations. Now is the time for cool heads to put together a plan that will keep the showgrounds safe through the rest of the pandemic.
We are all trying to survive and the situation with the 22nd DAA started many many months ago at a time where horsemen were ‘sleeping’ in a sense. We watched the renovation in 2018-2019 of the VIP and additional facilities at the Del Mar arena at the racetrack, we knew the footing issues were rising, we knew changes were being made, we believed contract agreements were not appropriate as they were written, we watched three great shows cancel. We also were aware that the 22nd DAA staff was being whittled down.
BUT we just kept on showing and traveling up and down the state and across the country as 2020 rolled on and the pandemic grew and threatened mere survival of families
AND, out of now where, they shut the Showpark facility down…. sadly it is not that simple, nor will the hopeful remedy be!Interested in your comments
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