Ellen Shipton
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Date Published:27 Mar 2020 Last Updated:28 Jul 2021

Caring for horses during the COVID-19 lockdown- what can I do?

Dispute Resolution

As of 20:30 on Monday 23rd March, the Government’s advice is for everyone to stay at home unless travel is absolutely necessary. You may have seen advice doing the rounds on what you can and can’t leave the house for but, as a horse owner, you may be wondering how horses fit in.

Am I allowed to leave my house to look after my horse?

Clearly caring for animals is imperative and the welfare of said animals is critical. Therefore, if you are the sole carer for a horse and you need to travel in order to care for said horse, you can leave your house to do so. If you are lucky enough to have your horse at home then you do not need to worry; continue caring for your horse as you did previously.

If your horse is kept in livery, the advice, from both the British Horse Society (“BHS”) and the British Equine Federation (“BEF”), is to respect the guidelines put in place by the yard owner/ manager. Nevertheless, respect the social distancing rules, ensure you wash your hands regularly and avoid using shared tools. If you need to use shared equipment, such as wheelbarrows and shovels, ensure you use gloves and/ or disinfect yourself.

If your horse is already cared for 24/7, on full livery, by the yard then it will be considered less imperative for you to travel to see your horse and so visits must be kept to a minimum to include essential visits.

What should I do if I fall ill from COVID-19 or need to self-isolate for 14 days?

The British Horse Society and numerous animal charities advise that you should have an emergency care plan in place for your horse in case you become ill or have to self-isolate (in which case you should not be leaving your home under any circumstances). This could include ensuring there is someone who can help you and ensuring that said person has the necessary knowledge and emergency numbers if required (farrier, vet etc).

Can I go for a ride?

At present, the government guidelines allow people to exercise once a day which includes running, walking and cycling which would suggest that yes, you can go for a ride. There are however no specific guidelines currently as to whether you can continue riding your horse.

The BHS is advising people to consider the potential unnecessary pressure that riding could place on emergency services. The NHS is currently swamped and, as horse riders know, it is impossible to predict whether you will stay in the saddle on any set day and, in turn, whether you will need to be hospitalised.

As an individual it is therefore your duty to consider whether riding (and the particular riding activity in question) is absolutely necessary and consider the potential impacts of doing so. The BEF has advised against riding if it carries a heightened risk such as jumping, or riding a particularly young, green or spooky horse. If you hack out, ensure that you still abide by 2 metre distancing rules and as ever be cautious of pedestrians and cyclists.

The health and welfare of your horse, you and others around you is a priority so be sure to consult appropriate guidelines if you have questions. Make sure you stay up to date with the general advice published by the Government.

This blog is not intended to constitute legal advice.

Equine disputes – can we help?

I have a keen interest in equine disputes – I have been riding since the age of five and gained a number of riding qualifications whilst in France. I have also owned my thoroughbred for 16 years now. As a result of my extensive experience in the equine world, I am perfectly placed to advise on equine matters or matters incidental to the equine world. Such matters include:

  • Commercial disputes;
  • Disputes as to ownership of the equine;
  • Disputes with loans, part-loans, agreements;
  • Disputes as to grazing and stabling agreements;
  • Mis-selling/misrepresentation of equines;
  • Breaches of agreement;
  • Equine disputes such as with saddlers, farriers and other professionals.

Please get in touch for a no-obligation initial chat if you have any queries surrounding equine disputes via 01202 057 732 or email at ellen.shipton@ellisjones.co.uk