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Please note, while the guidance is current at the point of publication, it may quickly be superseded following further government updates, or changes to the situation.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

Update: 19 January 2021

Restrictions remain in place - Scotland's Covid-19 lockdown has been extended until at least the middle of February.  This will be reviewed on the 2 February 2021.

This means that the lockdown restrictions including the strict stay at home requirement will remain in place across mainland Scotland and some island communities until at least the middle of February.  

Barra and Vatersay will move to Level 4 from midnight tonight

Update: 13 January 2021

Further measures will be introduced from 00.01 on Saturday 16 January 2021:

  • Nobody who lives in a Level 4 area should leave or remain outside their home except for essential purposes - amendment to regulations requiring people to stay at home, making it clear people must not leave or remain outside of their home unless for an essential purpose. More information
  • Working from home arrangements will be strengthened through updated statutory guidance. Working from home should now be the default position for all businesses and services, and only those who cannot do their job from home should be asked to go to the workplace. More information

Update: 05 January 2021

A Scotland Mainland Lockdown (current Level 4 areas in Scotland) has been announced from midnight on the 4 January 2021 for the month of January. It is a legal requirement to stay at home except for essential purposes. This is similar to the lockdown of March last year.

The current areas in Level 3 (i.e. island areas) will remain in Level 3.

Travel Restrictions:

Strict travel restrictions remain in place across Scotland. You must not travel outside your Local Authority area. If you live in a Level 4 area, you cannot leave your home except for an essential purpose.

Exemptions are applicable for essential animal welfare reasons, such as exercising or feeding a horse or going to a vet or other equine professional.

When you do go out, stay as close to home as possible and stay away from crowded places.

No-one is allowed to travel into or out of Scotland unless it is for an essential purpose.

Those living in a Level 4 Local Authority area can travel within that area to undertake outdoor sport, exercise and recreation including walking, cycling, golf or running that starts and finishes at the same place (or up to 5 miles from the boundary of their local authority area for informal exercise), as long as they abide by the rules on meeting other households. Informal exercise would allow for hacking if your route crosses a Local Authority boundary, for example.

This provision includes travel to local facilities for the training and exercising of horses and ponies on equine care and welfare grounds.

When taking part in sport, exercise or recreation participants should at all times follow Scottish Government ‘stay at home’ guidance. 

Meeting Outdoors:

The frequency of outdoor exercise will not be limited but the rule on outdoor gatherings change. The members of an individual household or extended household can meet outdoors for sport or exercise.

Number Restrictions:

Restrictions on the number of people who can take part in sport, exercise and recreation has been updated and is as follows:

  • A maximum of 2 people from up to 2 separate households (12 years or over) can meet outdoors for sport, exercise or recreation purposes if 2m physical distancing is maintained, before, during and after the activity. Participants should leave facilities immediately following exercise.
  • Group sport, exercise or training activity should not be undertaken by young people or adults over 12 years of age in a Level 4 area. Household rules apply.
  • Children under the age of 12 years can meet outdoors for sport, exercise or recreational and do not count towards the total number of people permitted to gather outdoors. Children under 12 years can therefore take part in non-contact group activity. In such circumstances the number of coaches involved must not exceed household limits i.e. maximum of two for any given session.


Coaches should not deliver a session to more than one other person if aged 12 years or older at any given time.

There is no limit to the number of sessions delivered in a day, provided appropriate measures are taken between sessions.


Operators in Level 4 areas may continue to open outdoor sports areas, courts, pitches and facilities if documented risk assessments are undertaken and all appropriate mitigating actions including the guidance herein is put in place to ensure the safety of participants, staff and volunteers. This includes covered/indoor arenas. Please refer to the BHS Covered Arena Guidance.

For clarification, equestrian centres, training venues and riding schools can remain open provided the appropriate risk assessments and mitigation actions are in place.

Indoor sport and leisure facilities including club houses, changing rooms and activity areas should remain closed at Level 4 (this does not include covered/indoor arenas). Exemptions are outlined at

Further Details

Caring for your Horse

In terms of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006, horse welfare is critical and the sole carer for a horse should travel to provide care for horses. This counts as essential travel under the current travel restrictions.

Where horses are kept in livery the BHS advises that horse owners respect the protocol put in place by the yard owner or manager and work as a team to agree a care plan for your horse(s). Download our Covid-19 Equine Care.

During the Covid-19 pandemic this is of particular importance. If you are ill or have to self-isolate, you will not be able to attend to your horse. Having a care plan in place will help to give you peace of mind that your horse is cared for and your buddy / yard owner has all the necessary information.

During these times, if you ever need to ask questions of your local authority about trading standards or animal welfare relating to Covid related issues– here is a useful list for your use (PDF)


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



The Coronavirus crisis is far from over. We have been able to make a difference, but there are so many more horses that need our support. Even with the lockdown easing, our riding schools are still struggling to pay the bills.

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