Ellen Shipton
Solicitor
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Date Published:01 May 2020 Last Updated:25 Oct 2021

Horse Care During the Coronavirus

Specialist Sectors

As discussed in my other recent blog on What to do if your Horse is on Livery? if you are the sole carer for your horse then travelling to care for them will be deemed essential travel. The welfare of your horse is the priority and you must ensure that they are being well looked after properly.

I am allowed to care for my horse but what about other professionals?

The general consensus is that any professional work that can be delayed, should be delayed. This is the position in all aspects of society at the moment and you need only look at the six-month extension for MOTs to realise this.

Visits from professionals such as saddlers and physiotherapists should be delayed as they will not be absolutely necessary for the welfare of the horse.

1. Vets

Until a couple of weeks ago, vets were only allowed to undertake emergency work. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (“RCVS”) has recently updated its advice in light of the extension of the lockdown and the situation that is unfolding around the world. Of course, the risks remain the same as they were a few weeks ago, however, delaying care could lead to an emergency later down the line that could easily have been avoided with swift veterinary intervention.

The RCVS’ updated guidance means that vets can now perform routine work, such as vaccinations and health checks, if they are necessary and if advice cannot be provided remotely (social distancing will still need to be adhered to). The RCVS has published a helpful flowchart which demonstrates how a vet should decide whether the horse can still be tended to.

The British Equine Veterinary Association has also published a number of videos under their “Don’t give your vet the virus” campaign, in order to assist horse owners in identifying any issues and reporting back to their vet remotely, rather than calling vets out and running the risk of spreading the virus any further.

2. Farriers

If delaying a shoeing or trim will not have an impact on your horse’s welfare, then the delay is recommended. This will of course cause issues longer term as these cannot be delayed indefinitely as, after all, no one knows when the current lockdown restrictions will be lifted.

The current advice by the Farriers Registration Council is that farriers can continue to provide essential care for equines and they should use their judgment when attending. The guidance includes maintaining social distancing rules at all times and regularly washing hands and equipment (in between visits). The British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association has since confirmed that farriers should decide whether to attend based on whether the care is deemed crucial, advisory or non-advisory. The “rating” should be decided in conjunction with the horse owner and considers a number of factors such as soundness and the impact of delay.

3. Dentists

As above, this should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If delaying a visit from the dentist is likely to impact your horse’s welfare, then the delay is not advisable. If the dentist needs to visit, ensure that all social distancing is adhered to as well.

If your horse requires any of the above professionals and they come to your horse you must ensure that you maintain social distancing so either tie your horse up in a stable or, if there is no stable available, tie your horse in a safe, enclosed space and stand away for the duration of the visit.

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 equinelaw@ellisjones.co.uk.

You may also find my recent blog on Riding Your Horse During the Coronavirus Lockdown useful.