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Riding and caring for your horse

With the relaxation of Government lockdown restrictions in England, particularly in regard to travel and exercise, the British Equestrian Board has been able to review the recommendations put in place to safeguard the equestrian community. Our stance on riding and coaching has been reviewed, although we will continue to monitor the situation closely, and we will also review any specific requirements across the devolved nations and work with regional bodies to provide specific advice, as the respective governments in each country may continue to enforce different restrictions.

We continue to recommend that social distancing is observed at all times, in addition to requirements relating to public health, hygiene and biosecurity. 

day-to-day care

Going to the yard

  •  Change into clean yard clothes, then wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately before leaving the house

At the yard

  • Respect any restrictions put in place by the yard owner or manager – they are for your safety and their own. It’s their business and/or home.
  • Wash hands thoroughly on arrival – take soap and water with you if the facilities aren’t available
  • Maintain social distancing with other liveries and avoid common areas, such as tea rooms, as much as possible. Keep at least two metres apart at any time
  • Use your own equipment. If you need to use shared equipment such as wheelbarrows or hosepipes, disinfect the areas you’re touching or wear disposable gloves
  • Assess your horse’s diet, and reduce energy intake according to the reduced levels of exercise you may be providing
  • Take advantage of feed, hay and bedding suppliers who offer a delivery service, and liaise with them closely to ensure that their service isn’t impacted
  • Ask that anybody who visits the yard closely follows hygiene and social distancing guidance

Leaving the yard

  •  Wash hands thoroughly before leaving the yard
  •  If you have hand sanitiser that’s at least 60% alcohol, use it to clean your hands when you get into your car

Arriving home

  •  Wash hands with warm water and soap straight away
  •  Have a specific ‘yard visit’ towel to dry your hands on
  •  Get changed immediately into clean, fresh clothes

If you keep your horse(s) at home, many of these points, particularly around hygiene and clothing, should be observed.

Prepare for self-isolation

Make a plan with your yard owner or manager, or your fellow liveries, for what will happen if you’re unable to get to the yard. If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or if somebody in your household does, even if they’re only mild, do not visit your horse. You will need to self-isolate for at least seven days or 14 in a shared household. If you have no alternative and it’s a question of welfare, you can attend to your horse but only as a last resort and within your own property boundaries when riding.

Riding, driving and vaulting

The previous recommendation to only ride/drive where strictly necessary was in place to negate any extra burden on the medical and emergency services.  However, with the NHS now operating within capacity, the equestrian public can exercise their own horses, or those in their care, as they require, including hacking. This must be within any UK government guidelines, including the restrictions on travel that remain in place in Scotland and Wales. Social distancing must be observed at all times, as should public health, hygiene and biosecurity requirements.

In addition, training with a coach is also now permitted, although there are limits on the number of participants and households involved varies between the home nations – for further details, click here. Coaches can travel to yards for face-to-face training in controlled  outdoor environments, while riders can also travel to have one-to-one lessons, as long as social distancing is adhered to throughout. 

Riders are now permitted to transport horses to a venue for coaching or facility hire. They may meet with one other from outside their household which may be a coach or other participant, all with the proviso that the appropriate social distancing and hygiene practices are in place.

Here is the current situation across the home nations... 

(correct as of 7 July 2020) How many people can meet? Where can riding take place? Are travel restictions in place?
England Up to six people from separate households Any indoor or outdoor facility or training venue. No travel restrictions
Scotland Four households, to a maximum 15 people, in an outdoor setting. Two households, to a maximum of eight people, in an indoor setting.  Any indoor or outdoor facility or training venue. Some postcodes in the Dumfries & Galloway area (DG 1, 2, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 16 – Scottish control only) have a five-mile restriction in place
Wales Groups of up to eight people in total, from a maximum of two households. Coaching sessions must be one-on-one, but with no limit on the number of sessions per day Outdoor training facilities or venues only No travel restrictions
N. Ireland Up to six people from separate households Any indoor or outdoor facility or training venue. No travel restrictions

Equine professionals

Coaches

With the relaxation of lockdown rules, coaches can now recommence training in controlled outdoor environments, while riders can also travel to have lessons, provided that social distancing is adhered to throughout.

For both face-to-face and online training, coaches must ensure that the necessary measures, risk assessments and safeguarding provisions are put in place, including checking insurance cover with their providers. They should only ride a client’s horse where any shared clothing, tack or equipment has been appropriately disinfected and social distancing of two metres can be maintained at all times.

Each of the home nations has different restrictions in place regarding the number of participants and households that a coach was train at any time. For further information, please click here.

Vet visits

Following an announcement by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) on Thursday 10 April, the British Equestrian Veterinary Association (BEVA) released new guidance to its members that comes into force today (14 April) and remains in place until further notice.

BEVA and its members are working hard to provide vital 24-hour emergency service, and recognise the need to provide essential services to safeguard animal health and welfare during the lockdown.

In doing so, it’s vital for veterinary practices and vets to:

  •  work in ways that prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus
  •  protect themselves, their colleagues and their clients
  •  protect the NHS 
  •  keep veterinary and allied businesses working and viable 

BEVA stress that the number of clients seen face-to-face should be kept to an absolute minimum and it’s certainly not a case of ‘business as usual’. However, the RCVS has produced a flowchart to help vets make the decision whether or not to undertake any non-urgent work.

BEVA is advising vets to fully assess the factors, the timing and the risk to animal and human health prior to any ambulatory visits to perform procedures or treatment, and BEVA has provided guidance on carrying out full risk assessments. All such assessments should be recorded in writing.

If, once the assessments are carried out and the vet is satisfied any risk can be managed, BEVA have produced a client checklist to be sent ahead of the vet’s visit to the owner. Government guidelines should be adhered to at all times by the vet and client.

To allow horse owners to help the vet through the process, BEVA has produced a series of educational videos in order to ‘triage’ their horse’s condition ahead of a phone consultation. Checking vital signs, colic, laminitis, wounds and eyes and breathing problems are all covered. The answers any horse owner can provide will assist a vet in making the key decisions to attend, so please watch and use them – help your vet to help you while keeping you both safe.

Farrier visits

Following the relaxation of restrictions on Sunday 10 May, the Farriers Registration Council (FRC) has urged its members to return to work, provided they following social distancing, public health and hygiene guidance. The direction and guidance accords with the key questions and tests applied by the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

Farriers have been instructed that...

  • any registered farrier showing the symptoms of coronavirus should immediately follow the NHS guidance and must not practise farriery
  • registered farriers should rigorously follow the guidance on social distancing, maintaining the 2m distance between humans while conducting farriery at all times and in all locations
  • registered farriers should regularly wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, and should clean their tools and equipment, including between consultations. Where registered farriers use personal protective equipment, including face masks, this should be disposed of in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions and otherwise responsibly
  • if challenged by the police or other law enforcement agency, registered farriers should present their registration card and draw attention to the FRC guidance. Where necessary, police officers or other law enforcement agencies should be asked to contact the Farriers Registration Council

Further information can be found here.

Localised lockdown zones

In an attempt to control coronavirus outbreaks, the government has announced that localised lockdown zones will be implemented in areas where cases appear to be rising. Further information on what this means for equestrians living or travelling into the zone is available here.

Regular updates

The situation changes regularly, so the guidance above is correct at the time of publication. We’ll endeavour to keep everyone as up-to-date as possible as any new information is made public.