Ellen Shipton
Solicitor
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Date Published:01 May 2020 Last Updated:27 Jul 2021

​Riding your horse during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown

Specialist Sectors

The UK Government recently announced that the current lockdown measures will continue as a review concludes that relaxing the current measures would result in harming public health and the economy. A much anticipated Government update is due this weekend.

The Government’s current position:

With the lockdown in place since late March, the current government guidelines allow people to exercise once a day which includes running, walking and cycling. Although this may suggest that horse riding is included as a form daily exercise, there are no specific guidelines currently which state whether or not you can continue riding your horse.

Can I ride my horse during lockdown?

In the UK, no rules or laws have been introduced that state that you should not be riding your horse. This is unlike other countries such as France where the position is clear – you should only be near horses for professional reasons. This means that you can’t take a leisurely stroll in the local woods, despite the claimed low risk of contamination.

The Isle of Man Government has also published guidance on riding which confirms that if you are not self-isolating you can
leave your house to exercise your horse. The recommendation is that you stay off road and use fields, arenas and enclosed areas to exercise. If riding on the road is necessary, this must be kept to an absolute minimum. Exercising your horse would count as your one form of exercise for that day.

Is it safe to ride my horse during Covid-19?

Here comes the tricky part, you are allowed to ride but should you ride?

The advice from the British Horse Society (“BHS”) is that it is not appropriate to place unnecessary pressure on the emergency
services. Horse riding is a dangerous sport and anything can happen at anytime, after all you are in control of an animal with a mind of its own. The BHS has stated that it is the individual’s decision as to whether riding is necessary at this time.

Necessity is difficult to define in these circumstances. Clearly, it’s not necessary for everyday riders to do any ‘high-risk’ activities such as jumping. However, if your horse is a show jumper and needs to keep up with his jumping, physically and mentally, then that would likely sway into the “necessary” activities.

This decision is therefore very personal to both you and your horse. It depends as much on your age and fitness levels as it does on your horse’s temperament, fitness levels, fitness requirements and ‘job’. Generalisation isn’t really possible at this stage but it’s safe to say that if you decide to go for a ride it shouldn’t just be because you miss being in the saddle or because it’s a nice day outside. You need to think carefully about the potential implications of riding/not riding, weigh these up and, in my case, not ride your thoroughbred for four weeks and now be terrified of ever getting back on again…

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 our other Equine Law blogs useful:

Caring for Horses During the COVID-19 Lockdown – What can I do?

What to do During the Coronavirus Lockdown if your Horse is on Livery