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Please note, while the guidance is current at the point of publication, it may quickly be superseded following further government updates, or changes to the situation.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

Advice from 5 January 2021 following the latest lockdown announcement for England, and are expected to remain in place until mid-February

Follow the NHS & Government advice

We must all be vigilant to maintain our social distancing with people outside of your household/support 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, such as having their horse’s passport to prove they are travelling to visit their horse.

Am I allowed to transport my horse?

updated 20/01/21
Transporting horses for welfare reasons or a veterinary emergency would be classed as essential travel. 

Travel for the purpose of collecting purchased horses is not generally a reasonable excuse for leaving home, but may be permissible where reasonably required for the animal’s welfare. This will be dependent on the relevant circumstances, including if the collection cannot wait until lockdown has ended. If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.

Wherever possible the exercise of your horse should start and finish at the premises where the horse is kept. Horses should not be transported for lessons and coaching. If your horse needs to be exercised for welfare reasons and there is absolutely no other safe place to ride where you keep your horse you may transport your horse to access safe hacking. The decision on whether it is deemed essential to transport the horse remains with the owner or loaner of the horse. If the transporting of a horse is undertaken then you will need to justify the essential travel reasons if stopped by the authorities. Transporting of horses for recreational reasons e.g. to meet with a friend or for a change of scenery is not considered essential.

Livery/Shared Private Yards - Being Prepared

If you are ill or have to self-isolate, you should not travel to attend to your horse. Therefore, it is important for yards to have contingency plans prepared 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.

  • 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

Having someone to buddy up with on your yard to ensure that, in the event that should you become ill or have to self-isolate, the care of your horse is provided for. 

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 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 or have to self isolate 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 buddy 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. All organised activities and competitions are not permitted.

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. When hacking out you can do so with people you live with, your support bubble or with one person from another household.

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

Be aware that some routes may be busier than normal, so be mindful of other people including walkers and cyclists.

Wherever possible the exercise of your horse should start and finish at the premises where the horse is kept. Horses should not be transported for lessons and coaching. If your horse needs to be exercised for welfare reasons and there is absolutely no other safe place to ride where you keep your horse you may transport your horse to access safe hacking. The decision on whether it is deemed essential to transport the horse remains with the owner or loaner of the horse. If the transporting of a horse is undertaken then you will need to justify the essential travel reasons if stopped by the authorities. Transporting of horses for recreational reasons e.g. to meet with a friend or for a change of scenery is not considered essential.

Hiring Arenas

Arena hire is not permitted, however arenas can be used for excercising horses which are stabled at the livery yard.

 

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

Yes, on a 1 to 1 basis, a lesson can take place on the yard where you keep your horse. 

Guidance for Coaches

Yes, the Government guidance states that you can travel to work where you cannot work from home, but the overarching message of the lockdown is to stay at home. We advise that Coaches should:

  • Travel to work where they are unable to work from home
  • Read the Government guidance and assess whether face to face coaching is a necessity
  • Only undertake1 to 1 instruction at the location where the horse is kept. Arena or facility hire is not permitted
  • Where a coach has their own facility they should only coach clients where the horse lives on site. Clients and horses should not be travelling for lessons
  • At all times ensure COVID secure practices are observed
  • Check with their insurance provider before undertaking any activities
  • For APC’s insured through SEIB, it has been confirmed insurance will remain valid as long the coach as you abide by all government guidance



Viewing, buying and selling horses

updated 20/01/21
If you are a private individual (i.e. not acting in the course of business):

  • You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse.
  • Travel for the purpose of collecting purchased horses is not generally a reasonable excuse for leaving home, but may be permissible where reasonably required for the animal’s welfare. This will be dependent on the relevant circumstances, including if the collection cannot wait until lockdown has ended. If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.
  • In cases where the collection of the horse is necessary for welfare reasons, buyers should make the necessary arrangements; this might include using a licensed transporter to collect and deliver the animal, or if necessary, collecting it yourself. Covid-secure guidelines must be fully implemented when collecting purchased horses for transportation.
  • It is not a reasonable excuse to leave your home for the purpose of viewing or visiting a horse that you might/intend to buy.

If you are viewing or purchasing a horse in relation to your work/business

  • Those buying or selling horses as part of their work may travel where reasonably required. If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.

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. There have been reports of animals being affected by the virus for example, n July 2020, Covid-19 was confirmed in a pet cat in the UK. 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:


Routine Procedures and Vaccinations

Veterinary organisations have issued guidance to veterinary practices. Unlike the first lockdown, vets are not restricted to emergency work only. Vet practices are advised to assess what is essential for animal health and welfare at this current time or if it could be delayed until after the lockdown has ended.

Further information is available from:

British Equine Veterinary Association
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

 

Farrier visits

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

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.

 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

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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