Saturday, May 14, 2011

When Bad Weather Hits

Let's face it: we don't always have perfect weather for showing. Sometimes, the weather goes beyond miserable and becomes dangerous. What should you do if that bad weather rolls around when it's your time to show?

The most common cause of a dangerous weather delay is the thunderstorm. Usually, thunder will not stop a class, but lightning will. If you do hear thunder close by, you might want to back off your warm-up a bit if you're low in the order since you will have to do another warm-up if your class is delayed. When loud thunder is heard, most of the competitors and officials will pay close attention to the sky, so lightning is not likely to be missed. As soon as lightning is seen, the class should be stopped and all horses and riders should immediately head to a safe area (if the lightning occurs while you are in the ring, you will probably be allowed to finish your round). Do not worry that you will miss your class by heading to safety; delays are usually at least half an hour to ensure that the bad weather has passed.

Another source of weather-related delays is heavy rain. While the show will go on in light and moderate rain, at a certain point heavy rainfall will become dangerous when visibility is affected and the footing becomes saturated. I have witnessed three delays where the rain was so bad that the show had to be stopped for the day and all classes (and even the remainder of one class) moved to the following day. This type of delay is at the discretion of the officials since it's a subjective decision. Any decisions should be announced to all over the loudspeakers and at the in-gates and the show office. If a class must be delayed after it has begun, the course must remain the same after the delay in order to keep it fair for everyone.

The difference between weather-related delays and delays for accidents or other emergencies is that the show area will empty out during a weather-related delay. No one will hang around in anticipation of the resumption (which is a good thing for safety reasons), so it tends to take longer for everyone to get back to the ring and ready to show again.

Here's the EC rule for the interruption of classes. Check the rulebook for your national federation in case it differs.

1. In the event that a class in which horses compete individually is stopped while in progress by reason of storm, accident or other emergency, the class shall continue from the point at which it ceased and all scores already credited shall count.
2. In the event that a class in which horses compete collectively is stopped while in progress by reason of storm, accident or other emergency, the class when recommenced shall be held over in its entirety and no consideration shall be given to the performances before the class was stopped.