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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Please note, while the guidance is current at the point of publication, it may quickly be superseded following further government updates, or changes to the situation.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 13 April 2021

The Covid-19 restriction on travelling around Scotland is to be lifted from Friday 16 April 2021, while people are to be allowed to meet up in larger groups outdoors.

People will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six adults from six households in outdoor settings for the purposes of outdoor socialising, recreation, or informal exercise.

From 16 April you can:

  • Travel anywhere in Scotland to meet outdoors with family and friends.
  • Meet in groups of up to 6 adults from 6 households outdoors.

Restrictions on travel from Scotland to other parts of the UK are also expected to be lifted from 26 April 2021.

Timetable for easing restrictions

It is expected to move through the levels on the following dates:

  • 26 April: mainland Scotland and islands at Level 4 are expected to move to Level 3. Islands at Level 3 will remain there until 17 May.
  • 17 May: all of Scotland will move to Level 2.
  • June (early): all of Scotland will move to Level 1.
  • June (late): all of Scotland will move to Level 0.

Full details of the Protection Levels are online at Protection Levels

Update 30 March 2021

The current Stay at Home rule will be lifted from Friday 2 April 2021 and replaced by a requirement to Stay Local. This means that the current travel restrictions that prevent non-essential travel outside your local authority will remain in place for another 3 weeks.

To clarify:

  • Those living in a Level 4 local authority area can travel within that area (or up to 5 miles from its boundary) to undertake informal outdoor sport, exercise and recreation including walking, cycling, golf or running that starts and finishes at the same place, as long as they abide by the rules on meeting other households.
  • Adults living in a Level 4 local authority area may travel within, but not outwith, that area to take part in organised sport.
  • Children and young people may travel to and from a Level 4 area, if for example, they belong to a club which is just outside their own local authority area. They should however travel no further than necessary and only participate in activities they are permitted to undertake in a Level 4 area. For instance, 12- 17year olds living in a Level 4 area are restricted to participating in groups of no more than 15 people.
  • Travel exemptions are applicable for essential animal welfare reasons, such as exercising or feeding a horse or going to a vet.
  • When taking part in sport, exercise or recreation participants should at all times follow Scottish Government ‘Stay Local ’ guidance

It is hoped that further plans for easing restrictions will be confirmed in 3 weeks’ time. This would include mainland Scotland moving from level 4 to level 3 on 26 April, travel restrictions within the mainland ending, a full reopening of retail premises and a partial reopening of the hospitality sector. It is also hoped it will be possible to ease some of the rules on outdoor meetings from the same date.


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.

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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