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Advice for horse owners in Northern Ireland during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak

Coronovirus Regulations applicable to Riding Schools, Equestrian Centres, Competition, Pleasure Rides, Riding Lessons and leisure riders in Northern Ireland

The following restrictions will apply from 00:01 am on 8 January 2021 until 6 February with a review on 21 January.

Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions have been introduced for people in Northern Ireland.

These new restrictions are in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and to help manage the pressures on our health and social care system.

During this time, the single most important action we can all take is to stay at home. No-one may leave their home without reasonable excuse.

Some of the restrictions will be in law through regulation, while others will be in guidance. 

Everyone is legally required to comply with the regulations.

If you fail to comply with the regulations without reasonable excuse, you are committing an offence. For some offences you may be given a fixed penalty or a fine on summary prosecution.

Riding Schools/Equestrian Centres

Riding Schools and Equestrian Centres remain closed until 6 February with a review on 21 January. Access for the purpose of animal welfare is permitted.

Recreational exercise outdoors
You should minimise time spent outside your home.

You can leave your home to exercise in a public outdoor place:

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with
  • with your bubble
  • or, when on your own, with one person from another household

You should not travel more than 10 miles from your home in order to take exercise. If, when you arrive at your proposed destination, there are crowds which will make social distancing difficult you should find an alternative place to exercise.

You cannot participate in personal one-to-one training sessions or group activities.

Owners can attend livery yards to feed, exercise their horses and attend to their welfare.

Individuals will not be allowed to hire an arena to use for exercise as all facilities will be required to close except for elite training and competitions.

The Riding Coach/Instructor

No coaching is permitted except at elite level – please read the definition of elite below and in the regulations.

Equestrian Events and Gatherings

Indoor and outdoor events are not permitted, other than at elite level.

Elite training and competition can continue, both indoors and outdoors.

Elite sporting events must be held behind closed doors without spectators.

The definition of an elite athlete is set out in the regulations

Horse racing can take place behind closed doors, in line with the elite sport regulations and animal welfare considerations.

The Elite Equestrian

Elite training and competitions can continue, both indoors and outdoors. The definition of an elite athlete will be the same is set out in the regulations and in detail here.

The operator or organiser must, however, carry out a risk assessment in accordance with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000, take all reasonable measures to limit transmission and follow any relevant NI Departmental guidance.

An ‘elite athlete’ is an individual who; 

  • derives a living from competing in a sport;
  • plays in a professional league or competition,
  • is a senior representative nominated by a relevant sporting body,
  • is a member of the senior training squad for a relevant sporting body, or
  • is aged 16 or above and on an elite development pathway.

A sporting event is a gathering for the purpose of exercise, competitive sport, recreational sport or sport training.

Further detailed information relating to households can be found here

Further detailed information relating to business support can be found 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



Further Resources

Useful resources for Professionals


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



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