As the UK goes into lockdown, with only essential travel allowed, many businesses and individuals – including horse owners – have been left in a grey area, as to what exactly the government means by ‘essential’ travel.

The official advice:

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons.

  • Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

These four reasons are exceptions, though even when doing these activities social distancing measures (making sure you’re two metres apart from anyone outside your household) still apply. The restrictions will be in place for at least three weeks and will be kept under constant review.

So what does this mean for horse owners?

The BHS released the following statement after the government’s announcement: “Horse welfare is critical and grooms or the sole carer for a horse should travel to provide care for horses.

“Where horses are kept in livery the BHS advises that horse owners respect the protocol put in place by the yard owner or manager and work as a team to agree a care plan for your horse(s).”

In relation to riding your horse, the BHS stated it is getting a lot of questions about this. The BHS’ advice is as follows: “There are no specific government guidelines at present. We advise that it is not appropriate to put unnecessary pressure on the emergency services and everyone should make their own individual decision as to whether riding is necessary at this time.”

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) also released a statement, thanking the equestrian community for its continued support during the outbreak.

“We all need to play a part in helping to manage and restrict the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The government’s messaging for social distancing, avoiding unnecessary travel and shielding is growing ever stronger. As such, our advice for the cessation of all organised equine activity remains in place in order to support government recommendations to stay at home wherever possible.

“Organised activity includes traveling your horse for lessons or schooling, having a coach travel to your yard, having a lesson at a riding centre and riding in large groups.

“However, we actively encourage enjoying your horse in the fresh air due to its benefits to your wellbeing and mental health, and those responsible for the care of a horse can still travel to care for and exercise them, either in an arena (preferably outdoors) or on a hack, provided you strictly follow the current Public Health England guidelines when visiting.”

The BEF also recommends avoiding any activities that might carry an increased risk of injury, such as riding a fresh or young horse.

Here at Your Horse we’ll be trying to keep you as up to date as possible as the situation develops. Keep an eye on our homepage for lockdown news, as well as articles to inspire you and keep your horse as happy and healthy as possible in these uncertain times ahead.

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