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Advice for Horse Owners and Livery Yards in England during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak

Please note, while the guidance is current at the point of publication, it may quickly be superseded following further government updates, or changes to the situation. Please bear with us while we make these changes.

The advice detailed below is applicable to ENGLAND only.

Advice for horse owners in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is available here.

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

 

Follow the NHS & Government advice

We must all be vigilant to maintain our social distancing with people outside of your household/social bubble.

Ensure you have sufficient hand washing facilities. After using shared yard equipment, such as wheelbarrows or the hose, wash your hands. All shared equipment will need to be disinfected.

Useful websites:

 
Travel to the yard

Horse welfare is critical and travel to the yard is essential for owners, loaners and sharers. Exercise forms part of the care plan for your horse to maintain health and wellbeing.  If your horse is kept on a livery yard, there may be rotas introduced or you may have the option of buddying up with another horse owner, for example, one person attends in the morning and the other in the evening. Where this is an option, this will help to reduce the number of people attending the yard.

There is no requirement for owners to have documentation to travel, including having their horse’s passport to prove they are travelling to visit their horse.

Facility Hire, Travel and 1-2-1 lessons

Yes, you can transport your horse for specific welfare or veterinary reasons.

The external hire of equestrian facilities is not permitted under the legislation so you may not travel to a venue and pay to ride on the premises (arenas, farm tracks, gallops, jumps, cross country schooling, etc.).

Venues which normally offer this service should suspend hire for the duration of the lockdown.

However, the legislation does allow you to travel to exercise, with your horse, to a public space e.g. bridleway.

You can also have a one to one lesson with a coach using the arena where your horse is kept or the arena at your coach’s permanent base, if they have one. The legislation does not allow you to hire an arena, cross country course or other facility, to meet with your coach for a lesson.

We appreciate that, whilst the legislation does allow for arena use but not the hire of arenas and facilities, this has caused frustration and confusion. However this position has been confirmed by SportEngland.

The Government has issued, Coronavirus (COVID 19): safer transport guidance for operators, which may assist equine transport companies with their policies and risk assessments. 
 

Livery/Shared Private Yards - Being Prepared

It is important for yards to maintain their contingency plans in the event that horse owners or staff won’t be able to attend the yard due to self-isolation or illness.

If horse owners are planning to go abroad, it is essential to make provisional plans in case the Government advises that self-isolation is required for those returning from specified countries or those with transit stops in specific countries. Therefore, it is important horse owners ensure there is an additional 14 days care cover plan in place in case Government make changes to the list of countries with no self-isolation requirements.

It is important that everyone on the yard, complies with the social distancing rules and guidelines set by the yard manager to protect all staff and clients. It is vital that yard owners or managers and their clients continue to talk with each other and consult on any proposed changes as we go into the second lockdown. 

  • Rotas are an option to ensure social distancing between clients and staff or yard owners. You should still avoid coming into close contact with others in tack rooms, kitchens and offices etc.
  • Livery yards do not need to close to their clients, regardless of the livery package that is offered. Horse owners, loaners and sharers can still attend the yard to exercise and care for their horse. Yard owners should review their Covid-19 risk assessments.  
  • If you are struggling to pay for your livery package, speak to your yard owner at the earliest opportunity. There may be options available to change your livery package or to set up a payment plan.
  • If you have a professional attending the yard, for example a farrier or vet, ensure you notify your yard manager.

If you are a BHS Approved Centre, please contact the Approvals Team on approvals@bhs.org.uk or 02476 840509 if you need any advice.

Buddy up

During the initial lockdown you hopefully had the opportunity to buddy up with other people on your yard, in the event that should you become ill or have to self-isolate, the care of your horse is provided for. The BHS strongly encourages horse owners to maintain or re-establish their buddy groups.

Check that your buddy / buddies are covered by insurance if handling or riding your horse. If they are a Gold member of the BHS, they will be covered by our public liability insurance* (*terms and conditions apply).

We still recommend that your yard buddy attends the yard at different times to you so that you isolate from each other and reduce the risk of you both being ill at the same time.

Write a care and emergency plan for your horse 

Due to the different scenarios where you would be required to self-isolate, it is better to be prepared and have a plan in place to ensure the care of your horse(s) in advance, rather than in a panic if you are not able to attend the yard.

Write down your horse’s current routine and if any changes are made, ensure your buddy or yard owner are notified. If your equipment is locked away, ensure your buddy or yard manager has a spare key or knows the combination codes to locks. Include details of your farrier and vet and how to contact them. 
The BHS has produced a template care plan that can be used for the individual requirements of your horse. As this is a template, there may be additional information that you’d like to add for your circumstances.

Ensure your Yard Manager and / or buddies know what to do in the event of an emergency for your horse. This is good routine practice to have in place, in the event that if you are uncontactable, and a serious decision needs to be made for your horse such as referral to an equine hospital for potential colic surgery.

Download our Covid-19 care plan template.

Can I ride/drive my horse?

Yes, you can still ride, drive and exercise your horse. To help ease the pressure on the NHS consider the type of activity you are doing and ensure you remain within your and your horse’s capabilities.

If horses are on a shared agreement, individuals can between them, continue to care for and ride the horse but with additional precautionary measures. As the equipment is likely to be shared between individuals from different households, this will need to be cleaned when used. It is advised that gloves are worn wherever possible especially when using shared equipment.

Hacking

You are allowed to hack out on your horse. All rights of way remain open.

Under the legislation, you are only permitted to ride out with one other person if they are not in your household / support bubble.

If you are in the same household / support bubble then you can ride out altogether.

You are allowed to transport your horse a short distance to a public space e.g. bridleway to exercise your horse. Be aware that some routes may be busier than normal, so be mindful of other people including walkers and cyclists. You can meet up with one other person if they are outside of your household / support bubble.

 

Can I have a riding lesson on my horse at the livery yard?

If you want your coach to visit your livery yard to provide the lesson, it is important to speak with your yard manager to check that this is possible. Under the new National restrictions which come into force on 5 November coaching can only be delivered on a one to one basis. Your yard manager may want to stagger the times that external professionals are on the yard, such as farriers, vets and coaches to limit the number of people at any given time. Guidance on social distancing should be followed for all lessons.

Your coach will need to follow the guidance set out by the yard manager and complete their own risk assessment.

Viewing, buying and selling horses

During lockdown, viewing a horse may not be deemed as essential travel, as the new restriction from 5 November, in England, require people to stay at home except for specific purposes. 

Travelling to collect a newly purchased horse would be allowed. 

Advice for Road Users

The Government has issued travel guidance advice. This gives important considerations when traveling in all circumstances. As many horse riders are drivers, this advice is useful to know, especially when you are considering travelling with you horse.

Governments travel guidance

Insurance

Your BHS membership liability insurance is valid during the Covid 19 outbreak. If you are not insured with the BHS, it is advisable to check if there are any restrictions with your insurance provider.

Animals and Covid-19

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), has advised that the current spread of Covid-19 is being sustained through human-to-human transmission and, to date, there is no evidence that companion animals directly transmit the virus to humans. In July 2020, Covid-19 was confirmed in a pet cat in the UK, but currently there have been no reports involving horses. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.  It is advised that people continue to wash their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

Keep up to date with your veterinary practice

Many veterinary practices are posting on their Facebook page and website, their practice's current policies regarding Coronavirus and visiting yards. If your horse needs a vet and you are self-isolating or ill, do not attend in order to help protect the health of their staff. Many practices may be able to bring an additional practice staff member to hold your horse if no one is available at the yard.

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has published horse health guidance videos to help support horse owners during the Covid-19 outbreak. The videos cover a wide range of subjects and are available to view here.

Individual veterinary practices and vets will complete their own risk assessments for all types of procedures. Ultimately, it is their judgement to decide if a procedure can be undertaken safely, which your vet will discuss with you. It is vital that horse owners ensure that social distancing is adhered to at all times and follow the guidance of their vet if a visit takes place. If you have a nervous or fractious horse: if they are needle-shy, for example, it is important that social distancing isn’t compromised.  To prepare your horse for procedures and help improve the safety of the handler and your vet, BEVA have produced a series of ‘Don’t break your vet!’ videos.

Additional information is available from:

Equine Influenza Vaccinations

Your vet should be continuing with all routine treatments for your horse. 

Farrier visits

Your farrier is best placed to discuss your next visit in relation to the specific, individual requirements of your horse during this lockdown period. 

Further details are available from:

Medication

If your horse is on prescribed medication, ensure you have sufficient supplies in stock. If you have any concerns, contact your vet practice.
 

Equine Physiotherapy

Equine therapist member bodies are advising and updating their members accordingly. It is important to liaise with your horse’s physiotherapist to discuss their current protocols.

Saddle and Bridle Fitting

The Society of Master Saddlers has advised its members that those continuing to work must do so safely, with adequate measures in place and following any official regional regulations and guidelines. In addition to comprehensive guidance for its members, Client Advisory Notes have been issued and are available to view here.

The BHS Helpline

The BHS Welfare Helpline is here to offer you advice and support with any questions or concerns you may have.

We are here for all our members and supporters and we have extended our working hours to provide a Coronavirus Helpline during these difficult times to help answer your additional queries relating to Coronavirus lockdown.

We’ll be available between 08.35 -17.00 Monday to Friday and between 10.00 – 16.00 Saturday and Sunday. 
 Call us on 02476 840517

If you are an APC please call 02476 840565 or an Approved Centre please call 02476 840509

 

Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice

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