COVID-19: Equestrian FAQ

coronavirus barn

It’s hard to talk about anything other than COVID-19 at the moment, with this global pandemic affecting every corner of the world.

To protect the NHS, the government plans to ‘delay’ the virus by stopping the disease from spreading to a point where it overwhelms the NHS. In an effort to free up beds, all non-urgent operations in England have been cancelled.

The latest government advice to control the spread of the coronavirus includes social distancing, avoiding non-essential travel and self-isolation for certain groups, including the over 70s, pregnant women and those with underlying health issues.

Remember: if you, or someone who lives with you, have a cough or a fever, you must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.

With all this uncertainty looming overhead, Jon William Stables wanted to provide some clarity to our fellow equine friends. We know those living and working in the equestrian world may have a lot of questions; we will do our best to cover them all here.

horse hacking during coronavirus

Can my horse or dog catch COVID-19 or give it to me?

WHO states there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, but there is “no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19.”

They also state that the virus is spread mainly through ‘droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.’ Washing your hands and avoiding touching your face is the best way to protect yourself.

Are we allowed to hack under the current COVID-19 restrictions?

There is nothing at the moment to specifically say you shouldn’t go out riding (unless you should be self-isolating in which case you shouldn’t leave your house!). It is worth considering that the government has urged us to avoid all non-essential travel and that riding is a risk sport – something to take seriously at a time when the emergency services are preparing to come under further pressure.

My horse is in a DIY Livery – am I allowed to care for them?

This would be considered essential travel. So yes – you are allowed to go and care for your horse, but it would be wise to have a plan B in place in the case that you need to self-isolate or restrictions are imposed by your yard and/or the government as the pandemic develops.

Should there be biosecurity measures in place on yards at this time?

Along with The British Horse Society, we recommend following and publicising the latest government advice to staff and clients, as well as yard owners updating business’s risk assessment as required.

To prevent the spread, it is also a good idea to ensure there is sufficient access to appropriate working hygienic hand washing/drying facilities and consider providing additional sanitiser at busy locations on the premises.

What will happen if the grooms on the yard have to self-isolate?

If staff or liveries on the yard catch the virus or show symptoms, they will need to self-isolate. Speak with your yard owner about contingency plans to make sure you are prepared. The British Horse Society has some useful information on what to consider when making a contingency plan here.

Are we allowed to transport our horses away from home for training/competition?

Most likely, events will be cancelled; however, if they are not, it is up to each person to decide whether this would be considered essential travel. Taking your horse to a veterinary facility for emergency or essential care is a little clearer cut…

We think it is worth considering that there will be more traffic on the roads with people avoiding public transport – which also means a higher risk of accidents occurring that would require the already stressed emergency services to attend.

Hopefully, we have answered most of your questions, but please feel free to ask us about any other issues surrounding the coronavirus – we will do our best to answer them for you!

Stay safe, wash your hands, we will get through this!

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