Owning horses during Covid-19

Scottie in his pen
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It was announced last night that stricter measures are being put in place to try and stop the spread of Covid-19. These measures include only leaving the house for essentials such as food and medical shopping and only going outside your property for exercise once a day. There has been a huge amount of noise on social media about whether this means you can go look after your horse and if you will be able to buy horse feed etc. I am going to quickly run through the most popular questions but you can find the latest updates from the BHS here.

Can I still go buy horse feed? 

Long story short, you will still be able to buy horse feed and hay, but you can expect there to be some disruption. Stores might only be taking card payments and browsing won’t be permitted. There might also be some issues with stock as you can expect some people to still be panic buying. However, you get your hay, you will still be able to get hay for your horse. But again, don’t be surprised if it’s not as simple as usual.  

Can I go to the yard? 

Whether or not you can see your horse will depend on your yard’s own rules. I have heard of lots of full and part livery yards not allowing owners up and looking after the horses themselves. Other yards are giving owners time slots to go up to stop too many people being up at the same time and encouraging owners to buddy up, doing each others’ horses where possible. 

Whatever your situation is, you should be taking steps to minimise contact between people at the yard, including not sharing tools where possible. 

Can the vet, farrier etc still come? 

This will largely depend on what needs doing and the choice of the individual. Farriers do count as essential for horse care. So for the time being, many of them will still be coming out to do your horses. My farrier posted on Facebook during the week that he will be trying to avoid human contact as much as possible, doing our horses without us being there where possible. But obviously if he must go into isolation or if the Government tighten movement of people this could still change. 

Vets will be available for emergency call outs. But many are cutting back on other routine visits for the time being to reduce contact. They will still be able to answer questions over the phone/email etc. 

Saddler/physio etc will probably be cancelling as this isn’t essential. My back lady has cancelled our weekend appointment. 

Can I still ride my horse? 

Currently, the guidelines say you can ride your horse as normal but does stress the need to avoid any extra risk of injury which could put a strain on the NHS. For example, if you have a particularly spooky, flighty horse, it might be time to consider giving them a bit of a holiday or focusing on groundwork. You might also choose not to jump and opt for flatwork instead.  

My Covid-19 plans 

We are making a few changes at our yard. Luckily there are only 6 of us DIY liveries and the yard owners 2 horses who usually live out. We are trying not all be at the yard at the same time and when we are, giving each other plenty of space. Most of us have our own tools and we are starting to keep our tools separate. 

I have paired up with Jo’s owner so that we both only go up to the yard once a day. I do them both in the mornings and she does them both in the evenings. Luckily, we are having nice weather at the moment, so they are out all day. What makes life a bit easier. 

Have you made any changes to how you look after your horse during the lock down?

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