What Does Lockdown Mean For Horse Owners?

Horse Calmer

What Does Lockdown Mean For Horse Owners?

What does the UK’s coronavirus Lockdown mean for horse owners across the nation? With rapidly progressing limitations on normal life being enforced, horse owners undoubtably have many question surrounding the care of their horses and what they can and cannot do. We’ve pulled together some answers to the most common questions horse owners have, surrounding the Coronavirus lockdown.

*UPDATED: 20/06/20*

 

Can I still visit my horse during ‘Lockdown’?

Entering the first stages of ‘Lockdown’, the Government have outlined that only essential travel will be allowed under the new restrictions. Essential travel includes tending to livestock and animals, therefore will cover necessary visits to your horse.

Under ‘Lockdown’ restrictions, it is recommended that visits to the yard are completed as quickly and as little as possible. This may mean sharing duties with other owners on your yard to cut down on travel and social encounters. Some livery yards may have exposed strict schedules for owners to adhere to, ensuring social distancing is maintained and protecting health and safety of clients and themselves. Where possible, care for horses should be completed by those based on the yard premises.

*UPDATE* Recent easing of ‘Lockdown’ restrictions allows for unlimited exercise outdoors. Therefore, horse owners who’ve been prevented visiting their horse will now be allowed to visit, providing appropriate hygiene, health and safety and social distances measures are in place. Establishments should publish clear guidance detailing their plans to re-open safely. Indoor areas on yards should remain closed, unless they are toilet facilities or provide access to outdoor facilities. Easing of the ‘Lockdown’ restrictions apply to ENGLAND and SCOTLAND ONLY.

 

Can my vet and farrier still visit during the ‘Lockdown’?

Yes, your vet and farrier may still visit your horse under Lockdown restrictions. Under the Animal Health Act 2006, animal owners must ensure those under their care are protected from pain, injury, suffering and disease. However, it must be considered appointments will be maintained under the professional’s own discretion.

In light of the ‘Lockdown’, enforced on 23 March 2020, many vets have issued statements outlining that they will be visiting emergency cases only. Most non-emergency appointments have been ceased. Vets are advised to fully assess factors, timing and the risk to animal and human health before they visit or perform procedures. Owners may be asked to have evidence of deteriorating vital signs, colic, laminitis, problems with wounds and eyes, or breathing problems. BEVA have produced a series of educational videos to assist horse owner when monitoring their horse.

Prescriptions will continue to be issued, however altered order and collection arrangements may be utilised to maintain social distancing. This may include contacting your veterinary surgery via post, email or telephone, and collecting via an arranged location or postal service. However, make sure to contact your current vet in regard to their COVID-19 Lockdown response.

The British Equine Veterinary Association has issued advice to vets, stating that routine vaccinations are to be halted for a 1 month period, during the lockdown. However, permission has been granted by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to prescribe medication remotely where appropriate.

Farriers will be able to attend their appointments, with social distancing and hygiene measures carried out throughout the appointment. Some farriers may even delay routine appointments, or request that they attend your horse by themselves and that payments are completed via bank transfer. However, maintaining appointments are under the individuals discretion, as some will be forced to self-isolate due to family or their own health, therefore finding an alternative farrier may be necessary. Please contact your farrier for more information regarding their forthcoming plans.

*UPDATE* All veterinary procedures and routine farrier appointments will be allowed to take place, providing every visit/procedure is risk-assessed and should only go ahead where the risks (to physical safety and disease transmission) can be sufficiently avoided.

This means in some scenarios, procedures may not be able to carried out fully or at all. Two-metre social distancing must still take place, and it recommended that shared equipment is appropriately disinfected before other’s use. Some professionals may still ask you to wait separate from your horse for them to carry out procedures by themselves. Easing of the ‘Lockdown’ restrictions apply to ENGLAND and SCOTLAND ONLY.

However, Chief Executive of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), David Mountford, stressed;

It’s important that everyone remembers that the safety of vet and client are paramount and should not be compromised, especially for non-emergency procedures.”

What does Lockdown mean for my horse’s vaccination records?

Vets will not attend routine vaccination updates, as under lockdown they are only attending emergency callouts.

Therefore, all 6-month vaccination updates have been completely ceased, whilst all other vaccination updates have been halted for a one month period (starting on 24 March).

In regards to competition, the BEF will continue to operate their 12 month vaccination policy throughout 2020. Other equestrian governing bodies who operate a six monthly booster injections requirement before competing will look implement a transition period, allowing riders to bring vaccinations up to date once the current suspension of activity is lifted. The duration of transition will be communicated across individual members bodies once the lockdown is over.

*UPDATE* Vaccinations will now be allowed to be updated, where circumstance allows safe completion of the procedure in terms of physical safety and disease transmission. Two-metre distancing must be adhered to, with some vet professionals asking owners to wait separately from their horse to mitigate risk of disease transmission.

British Eventing (BE), British Showjumping (BS) and British Dressage (BD) have implemented a transition period for vaccinations. All are allowing competitors with up-to-date annual boosters to compete, up until at least 30 September 2020.

Will I still be able to buy feed and bedding for my horse during the ‘Lockdown’?

Yes. Animal supply stores are classed as essential stores, therefore will not be forced to closed under the new ‘Lockdown’ arrangements. Under the Animal Health Act 2006, owners must ensure all animals under their care are provided with a ‘suitable environment’ and ‘suitable diet’.

Many animal husbandry suppliers will remain open over this period to supply pet and agricultural workers with the items they need. However, smaller pet/equestrian stores may close their doors, which may mean longer travel for care necessities or altered pricing fo the items you usually purchase.

To protect the staff working at the stores, purchasing methods may also be altered. Some stores have requested orders and payments to be completed over the phone to reduce person-to-person contact. Organised collection times of purchased/ ordered items have also been implemented to reduce crowds and maintain social distancing.

*UPDATE* Most animal supply stores will continue to operate with their previous lockdown measures. However, more animal supply stores are set to open and allow people into the store to browse. Restrictions on numbers of people allowed into stores at one-time, as well as social distancing measures should be adhered to.

 

Can I still ride during the ‘Lockdown’?

Yes, you can still ride your horse during the Lockdown. Horse riding can be classed of your daily hour of outside activity, outlined under the government’s new movement and socialisation restrictions. However, riders must exercise their horse by themselves.

Some livery yards may stop all exercise of horses on their grounds – this is under their discretion regarding their own health and safety. It should also be taken into account that larger yards may struggle will social distancing protocols if they allow clients to complete additional exercise with their horse.

Under this period of immense pressure on the NHS, it is advised against riding which may cause injury. Ride with caution and do not attempt exercises which may increase the level of danger within the sport. This may include hacking, jumping and riding young or unpredictable horses. Ceasing ridden exercise completely during this period would be the most admirable cause of action.

*UPDATE* Equestrian governing bodies are advocating those who have had Lockdown restrictions eased to begin their activities again. Individuals can take part in training activities across the nation, whilst some competitions have already launched in England.

It is a continued requirement that riders, drivers and vaulters consider the risk of their activity, to only ride where safe to do so and within their own and their horse’s capabilities and fitness.

Riding facilities can now begin to re-open providing they are situated outdoors and have outlined clear guidance detailing their plans to re-open safely.

Coaches you can now work with clients outdoors, providing they are staying a minimum of 2 metres apart and meeting group size and household gathering recommendation for their area. Shared equipment must be appropriately disinfected before and after use.

For the full updated advice on riding and coaching, CLICK HERE. 

 

I employ someone else to care for my horse. Will they still be able to carry out their duties?

Yes. If you are usually employ an individual to attend to your horse’s daily needs, they can continue to carry out their duties.

If you are undergoing a period of social isolation, it is recommended that you ask a friend on your current yard, or the yard owner to carry out duties for this period, to reduce the possible spread of the virus. Freelance grooms may be employed if you are the only person attending your yard.

*UPDATE* Grooms can carry out duties and be employed on a ‘one-off’ basis, if required. Shared equipment must be appropriately disinfected before and after use. Two-metre distancing must be adhered to. Grooms should not meet with households or groups over the maximum recommended by their residing country’s government.

 

I employ someone else to care for my horse. Will I still be able to visit my horse?

During the lockdown, it is recommended that only essential journeys are made. Therefore, if you employ a groom to complete the daily care of your horse, visiting your horse to ride or complete any other activity is deemed un-essential.

If you are currently on a share or part/loan scheme, your duties may need to be ceased to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus. Where possible, only one person should be visiting, caring and riding their horse during the ‘Lockdown’ period.

*UPDATE* If you employ a groom to carry out daily duties whilst you ride, this activity can now commence. Shared equipment must be appropriately disinfected before and after use. Two-metre distancing must be adhered to.

If you are currently on a share or part/loan scheme, your duties can commence providing you are only meeting with the recommended groups sizes or household numbers, whilst remaining two-metres apart at all time. Shared equipment must be appropriately disinfected before and after use.

 

*Due to daily developments, further restrictions regarding the UK’s Lockdown may be enforced over the subsequent days. Check back regularly to keep up-to-date. [UPDATED 20/06/20 – 14:15 GMT). 

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