BY BROOKE GODDARD
The entire sporting world came to a screeching halt in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic – horse shows were no exception. The effects of not having horse shows have been widespread, impacting everyone from horse show managers to trainers, grooms, braiders, haulers, and more.
As we jump back into horse showing and explore longer-term solutions, we can look to what other sports are doing to keep athletes safe while returning to competition. In early July, Major League Soccer brought its clubs into a “bubble” at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. where players are receiving testing multiple times a week and are quarantined in cases of positive testing. This concept of regular testing could be an essential aspect of making the return of horse shows safe and successful for everyone involved.
Longtime hunter/jumper trainer and judge Bob Crandall has teamed up with Global Health Sourcing, a company based out of Florida, to help bring rapid COVID-19 testing to the equestrian community. “Horse people aren’t going to be told no,” Crandall said. “Testing would allow us to feel safe at horse shows and could create a steady path toward normalcy as we await a vaccine. This is the next step and it feels like a no-brainer concept. Personally, I am health compromised with lung disease, asthma, and an auto-immune issue, and I know there are a lot of horse people out there with similar health concerns.”
Crandall connected with Global Health Sourcing through Ryan Bishop, a well-known acupuncturist and holistic medicine practitioner who helps many athletes, especially equestrians. “For about 20 years, I have been doing hands-on work with the equestrian industry in Wellington,” Bishop shared. “I think it’s really important to get to everyone back to horse showing. Health is about feeling good and having a good quality of life. Having peace of mind from getting tested could help people get back to what they love.” With testing mechanisms in place, riders could get back to enjoying competitions – and an entire industry could get back to work.
Desiree Webb, the Chief Strategy Officer of Global Health Sourcing and an equestrian herself, agrees with Crandall and Bishop. “My daughter and I rode together for almost ten years at Little Brook in Wellington,” she commented. “I want to help riders get back to doing the sport they love, and to do that safely we need to provide testing.”
Many of us are confused by the various testing options available… PCR, IgG, IgM. What do they mean and how can they help us?
Webb broke down the terminology for us and explained how each test differs. “I’m not a physician, but as someone who has worked as a healthcare executive for over 20 years, I can explain something complex in more of laymen’s terms.”
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Testing
“PCR Testing is the most widely used form of COVID-19 testing, most often seen in the form of a nasal swab test. It can detect COVID-19 within one to seven days of getting the virus. However, the PCR test is not a rapid test, and the results can take about 48 hours, or even up to a week due to processing time.”
Antibody (IgG/IgM) Testing
“The IgG/IgM rapid test looks for Immunoglobin G and Immunoglobin M to detect COVID-19 antibodies in your blood and can give you a result within about 15 minutes. This test can be administered by a health care professional virtually anywhere with a finger prick. The FDA has approved nurses, pharmacists, dentists, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, technologists, and a wide range of other practitioners to administer the rapid test.”
What is IgG versus IgM?
“I remember IgG as ‘goodbye COVID,’ or in other words, you’ve had COVID in the past. However, a positive result for IgM means that you are currently in an acute stage of the virus. Your body starts to produce antibodies, which will show up in your blood within about seven days of becoming infected. This test is especially important for identifying patients who are asymptomatic.”
Desiree and her team are looking forward to teaming up with show managers to make rapid tests readily available at horse shows. “The good news is that there is testing available,” said Ryan Perna of Global Health Sourcing. “We have been able to source and locate the tests. We can ship out the tests within 24 hours and we are very proud of that.” These tests can be stored at room temperature, administered anywhere, and will show you a result within minutes.
Although no one has clear answers to what the future will look like in light of the pandemic, we are all seeking a path back into the show ring. COVID-19 testing could provide a viable way to help us get there.