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Advice for horse owners in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

This advice and information is to help support horse owners and those who care for horses during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Scotland

Current Situation

Scotland is still in lockdown, however, the outdoor advice in Scotland from May 10th allows unlimited exercise locally from home alone or with members of your household. From 29 May, Scotland will move to Phase One of the easing of lockdown restrictions. Exercise and non-contact outdoor leisure activities, including horse riding are permissible. Confirmation that limited one on one coaching can take place, providing social distancing guidelines are adhered to has been confirmed. Further information can be found here in the section on personal training and coaching.

We will provide further updates for riding schools and the use of covered arenas once we have further clarity on the Phase One Guidance.

 

Main Points

  • Horse Riding has never been banned in Scotland it has always been a case of individual choice and circumstances, many owners have chosen to keep riding at home throughout the pandemic.
  • BHS Scotland takes the view that as you are permitted to travel to your livery yard to care for your horse, part of that care could be exercise for both you and your horses health and as the yard is the horses’ home you reasonably could exercise (ride the horse) locally or in the arena.
  • Travelling of horses by road for riding purposes is still not essential travel – essential travel for equines is only for welfare and veterinary issues.
  • BHS is acutely aware of the need to protect the NHS, so horse riders who do choose to ride should be extra mindful of safety. Riding should be restricted to flatwork and ground pole work.
  • Police Scotland have generally agreed that horse riding is considered one of people’s daily exercise, BHS is aware of police situations across Scotland where police have stopped riders , checked they are local and complying with social distancing and said “enjoy your ride”

Hacking for exercise should be local and low key and must be compliant with Scottish access legislation.

Information regarding horse riding in Scotland following government advice
 

Northern Ireland

Relaxation of items listed in Step 1 of the Coronavirus Executive Approach to Decision-Making as at 18 May 202
https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/publications/coronavirus-executive-approach-decision-making

  • Groups of up to six people who do not share a household can meet outdoors maintaining social distancing 
  • Outdoor spaces and public sport amenities to open if no shared hard surfaces, For example, golf and tennis. 
  • Drive-through church services and churches open for private prayer, with appropriate social distancing and cleaning of shared contact hard surfaces
  • Drive through cinemas are permitted.

What does this mean for horse riders and carriage drivers in Northern Ireland?

  • You can exercise your horse in a group of up to six people with whom you do not share a household, but you must maintain social distancing and all covid hygiene measures.
  • You are permitted to travel your horse for exercise or training to a suitable outdoor location. There is no restriction on the distance you are allowed to travel.
  • Within your allowance of six people, include your coach if in attendance

Please implement the following:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before you set off.  
  • Keep at least 2 metres away from all other people and if possible, try to avoid busy times on popular paths or places.
  • Take extra care to respect the health and safety of land owners. Respect signage. Follow all reasonable requests to avoid sensitive areas. 
  • Think carefully about your route.  Can you avoid gates to minimise risk to you and others when touching surfaces?
  • Leave gates as you find them, where there is no livestock. Gates may have been left open to avoid contact. 
  • If you do need to open and close gates, wear gloves to minimise risk of you transmitting or picking up CV.   Wash your gloves between rides.
  • If you are travelling to a destination bring your own mounting block with you so that you do not have to share with others.
  • Wash your hands on return, regardless of whether you’ve worn gloves.  Wash your gloves between each ride off your own property.  
  • Please be courteous at all times. 
  • With an increase in the number of people accessing outdoor areas for places to exercise, remain aware of the needs of fellow users of open spaces and places where you are allowed to ride or carriage-drive.
  • Ensure you check in your local area before setting off whether access to places you used to ride are open such as beaches and forests.
  • Each person is responsible for acting in an appropriate manner within the guidelines applicable to where you are living and where you keep or exercise your horse.

Riding or carriage driving on roads during the coronavirus outbreak

  • Although there may be less traffic on most roads, on some traffic is going faster, and drivers don’t necessarily expect to meet horses, particularly at present.  
  • Wear hi-viz, use clear hand signals
  • Keep your wits about you: listen for traffic, don’t use your mobile phone while riding, 
  • Respect everyone else on the road, including vehicles, cyclists and walkers.  
  • Keep your distance from others.  You may need to wait to one side to let others pass safely.
  • Acknowledge careful driving with a smile or a wave.
 

Republic of Ireland

Everyone is urged to stay in their home wherever possible until Monday 18 May.

You are allowed to go up to 5 kilometres from your home to exercise and those who are cocooning can leave their homes up to 5 kilometres for exercise or a drive as long as they avoid all contact with other people.

Horse Riders and Owners are allowed to travel to care for their horses more than once a day as this is an essential reason for travel. Those with horses at Livery Yards should be guided by the arrangements in place where they keep their horse(s).

Riding is a risk sport, please risk assess before riding to reduce the likelihood of an incident occurring. If you choose to ride or hack out during your period of exercise, please ensure you do so on your own property or place you keep you horse, or within close proximity to your home. Please continue to ride responsibly and maintain social distancing.

With an increase in the number of people accessing outdoor areas for places to exercise, remain aware of the needs of fellow users of open spaces and places where you are allowed to ride or carriage-drive.

From 18 May Phase 1 of the Irish Government's Roadmap for Reopening of Society & Business in the Republic of Ireland commences

The Irish Government has produced a Roadmap for Reopening of Society & Business in the Republic of Ireland.

Horse Sport Ireland has confirmed that equestrian sport is included as part of the Phase 1 of reopening and has produced an "Equestrian Sport Ready" submission.

For equestrians this will mean:-

  • You can travel a maximum of 5 km to exercise and care for your horse.
  • There will be a phased return to work of coaches and riding schools.
  • Riders will be permitted to ride together in small groups outdoors (max 4 people) where social distancing can be maintained and where there is no contact.
  • All guidance protocols, including social distancing and protective measures must still be observed.
  • Those with horses at Livery Yards should be guided by the arrangements in place where they keep their horse(s).

With an increase in the number of people accessing outdoor areas for places to exercise, remain aware of the needs of fellow users of open spaces and places where you are allowed to ride or carriage-drive.

Guidance is applicable to horse owners and riders, our BHS Accredited Professional Coaches, our BHS Approved Centres and Livery Yards.

Each person is responsible for acting in an appropriate manner within the guidelines applicable to where you are living and where you keep or exercise your horse.

For further information click here.


Wales

General law

Welsh Government changes announced last week for Wales were:

  • Some garden centres, libraries, recycling centres will open, churches (are open for individual prayer) all with 2 metre distancing
  • You can exercise more than once but it should start and end from home and not involve going a significant distance from home.
  • Fines will increase for those breaking rules from £60 to £120.
  • Schools are not re-opening on the 1st June.
  • People from England will be monitored crossing the border.

The general rules in Wales are:

Wherever you can you should ‘stay at home’. If you need to leave home for necessary travel ie work, exercise, shopping, you should stay local and stay alert.

Further information is available here.

Clarification for livery yards

  • Visiting a horse to feed and water it is essential travel (Welfare) and can be done twice a day if you cannot buddy up. Where a livery yard can assist this could be an option to allow a person to only leave their home once.
  • Having time slots is still a good thing and should continue – social distancing must be practiced (2m).
  • Bio security - ideally using own equipment and cleaning equipment should continue.
  • The Welsh Govt has never made a statement saying riding is banned, but South Wales Police for example have promoted the message ‘do we need to ride’ due to pressures on the NHS.
  • Therefore, people can and have always been able to ride as part of their exercise regime, it has been personal choice. BHS Cymru takes the view that riding is good for a horses welfare, especially to help horses maintain a healthy weight and prevent them from becoming overweight or obese. Exercise is also beneficial for those horses prone to laminitis or have Equine Metabolic Syndrome.
  • Perhaps now as NHS admissions start to drop in Wales it is more suitable to consider riding as a reasonable form of exercise but only if riding but only low risk ie flatwork, polework, hacking etc.
  • Again, following legislation riding should be done on your own or with family members with hacking this may not be suitable for all, so riding at home in an arena may be preferable and safer. You should not meet ie hack/ride with people from other households. The law quite clearly states you cannot not mix with other households.
  • Hacking should also only be local and if following government guidelines ideally riding should start and end from home.
  • Travelling of horses by road for riding purposes is still not essential travel – essential travel is only for welfare and veterinary issues.
  • A coach cannot travel to a yard as its non-essential travel, in theory a coach onsite should not teach either as its two people from different households and non-essential .

Further information for livestock and equine owners in Wales.

Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) ADVICE & INFORMATION FOR EQUESTRIANS

Please read our information and advice for horse owners and business owners during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak

 

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