Ellen Shipton
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Date Published:01 May 2020 Last Updated:26 Nov 2021

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

Specialist Sectors

Although there are not currently any specific government rules in place in respect of caring for horses during the Coronavirus lockdown, the welfare of animals is imperative and therefore, the general consensus is as follows:

  • If your horse is on your own land, you can continue as before.
  • If you are the sole carer for your horse (i.e. they are on rented land and you care for them) then your travel to care for them will be deemed essential.
  • 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.

Yards should at this stage have a system in place. The minimum rules will include social distancing, ensuring that people are washing their hands and disinfecting shared equipment in between uses.

If your horse needs to be seen to multiple times a day it is worth considering partnering up with another owner to share some responsibilities; meaning that you won’t need to go to the yard twice a day for example.

My yard has closed – is there anything I can do?

In the interests of reducing the spread of the virus, a number of yards have made the decision to close to the public, this includes professional racing stables and leisure yards.

At the moment there is no clear guidance as to whether yards should close, save that yards must abide by social distancing rules. If the yard owner takes the view that social distancing will not be possible with the yard open, then clearly they may have little option but to close the yard completely to external visitors, including horse owners.

The real impact of a yard closing will depend on the agreement you have in place with them. If your horse is on DIY livery then clearly this would pose issues, as suddenly your horse’s care is being provided for by the yard and this could lead to them requesting a higher monthly payment. As the effects of coronavirus are felt financially, for example if you have been furloughed, you may struggle to pay the original rent let alone an increased amount.

Realistically, it is more difficult for a DIY livery yard to contemplate closing their establishment than it is for a full livery yard where the care is provided for the horses anyway. Your main difficulty would therefore be that you will not be able to see your horse until the lockdown ends.

Does the yard have any obligations?

Regardless of lockdown, both parties should continue upholding the arrangement in place. This means that as a horse owner you will still need to be paying the agreed fee and as a yard owner you should be continuing to ensure the welfare of the horse.

Understandably it will be difficult for people to be separated from their horses for the lockdown period. If you are a yard owner you should try to accommodate people’s concerns and provide regular updates.

Can we help?

If you have any concerns about your livery arrangement, from a financial or welfare perspective, whether you are a horse owner or a yard owner, please do not hesitate to get in touch for a no-obligation initial chat via 01202 057732 or email at equinelaw@ellisjones.co.uk
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If you have any other equine queries, please also get in touch using the details above.

You may also find the recent blog “Caring for Horses during the COVID-19 Lockdown – What can I do?” useful.