SANTA FE – The state of New Mexico will not allow an equestrian center near Santa Fe to hold its annual Summer Series because it would violate the state’s public health order aimed at reducing the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
HIPICO Santa Fe, located on South Polo Drive just west of the Santa Fe Regional Airport, requested an exception to the public health order so it could open a four-week series of hunter/jumper equestrian competitions that were scheduled to begin July 15. But state officials denied the request, saying it would be both unfair and unsafe.
“The state doesn’t grant exceptions to the public health order,” Nora Meyers Sackett, press secretary for the Governor’s Office, said in an email to the Journal. “On top of being unfair to other entities, all of whom have been hurt by this pandemic, it would be unsafe, as these events bring hundreds of people every year.”
HIPICO Santa Fe co-owner Phyllis Gonzales said the equestrian center had presented a COVID-19 Safe Practices plan to the DOH and made changes based on the feedback it got.
“We were told that our event would not fall within the anticipated public health order guidelines for ‘mass gatherings’ expected to be in effect during July/August,” she wrote in an email to the Journal. “We had been attempting to get a response from someone in DOH or the Governor’s office for weeks, without any luck other than a blanket response from the Acting Secretary of Finance and Administration that we should listen to governor’s press conferences and read the public health order(s) to find guidance.”
Gonzales said HIPICO’s Summer Series was a low-risk event for transmission of the virus that would be held outdoors and without spectators. She said there were 10 warm-up arenas and 34 barns spread over the 137-acre site. She said between 25 and 220 competitors, trainers and support staff would be on hand at any given time.
Gonzales said the cancellation of the event will be devastating to HIPICO Santa Fe.
“Without the Summer Series, HIPICO Santa Fe as a venue would not exist,” she wrote. “The loss of the event that brings an estimated $2.5 million in gross revenue to HIPICO is simply not one that we can recoup through small events throughout the year, many of which are underwritten annually in part by the income from the Summer Series.”