If you own a horse or a pony, what you’re allowed to do in terms of riding, caring for them, and meeting their needs during lockdown 2 can be a bit confusing.
Added to this, there has been a fair amount of backtracking in terms of guidance on what is and is not permitted for equestrian-related businesses during this time too, particularly when it comes to things like riding lessons and equestrian centres.
This article is designed to help cut through some of the confusion, and supply the answers to six frequently asked questions about horses, ponies, riding and stable management during lockdown 2. Read on to learn more.
Yes, veterinary care is still available during lockdown 2, just as it was during the first UK lockdown. That said, the level of service, how it is delivered, and what you can and cannot get done during this time is apt to be somewhat restrictive.
Vets need to be able to work safely and keep their teams and customers safe too, as well as prioritising providing urgent and emergency care to animals in need.
This has a number of implications for horse owners.
First of all, because your vet will either visit or see your horse outside or in a more open space like a stable or barn, the risks of transmission between the people present is lower, and so there are fewer issues to contend with for vets than when they have owners of small pets come to the clinic.
However, visits to horses or having horses brought to a clinic (where possible) are also more time consuming and generally require more staff, which means that generally any care that can wait until lockdown ends will need to.
This may mean routine and preventative treatments, but if your horse is sick, injured, or needs care or something doing as a welfare issue, your vet will work to help you as normal.
Yes, farriers are still permitted to offer their services and you can get horses shod during lockdown and again, the environment horses are kept in and the way that farriers work lend themselves well to maintaining social distance.
You may be able to have your horse shod without the need to be in anything like close quarters to the farrier, and even if you do need to stay with or manage your horse, being outside and being careful about distancing should be fairly intuitive.
You may find though again that your farrier needs to prioritise clients according to their level of need, and so appointments may work rather differently to normal.
Yes, you’re allowed to go riding. Exercise for yourself and providing exercise for an animal are both allowed. You can ride your horse in public on roads and bridleways as normal, and you can also hire or use an area to ride in as well.
You are also allowed to travel your horse in a lorry or trailer to take them to an arena or other area to exercise, if this can be achieved while maintaining social distance.
This depends; the same rules apply to riding with others that apply generally to meeting with other people outside of the home.
Essentially, this means that you are free to go riding with anyone from your own household, or from another household that serves as your support bubble.
You are also allowed to meet and go riding with any one other person who is neither a part of your household nor a part of your support bubble if it is just the two of you, and not other members of your respective households too.
This was one of the greyest areas initially when lockdown 2 was announced, and one that was initially forbidden!
At the start of lockdown 2 restriction discussions, facilities like riding schools and commercial stables were actually listed as among the types of non-essential business that had to close.
However, other businesses in the fields of education and tuition were permitted to stay open, and so as a result of requests and work undertaken on the part of the BHS, ABRS and BHC, riding centres and riding schools are now permitted to offer lessons and stay open in lockdown 2; providing that they can do so within the remit of the legislation, undertake the appropriate risk assessments, and can enact social distancing and hygiene measures.
This means that both lessons on a riding school’s own horses and ponies and lessons at a riding school or at your own premises on a one to one basis with a trainer or riding instructor are all permitted in lockdown 2.
You are also allowed to travel for the purpose of having lessons or instruction, and travel your horse too.
Yes, feed suppliers and country stores and all of the usual types of places you’d use to buy feed and accessories for your horse are permitted to open, but they too are covered by the restrictions that apply to all business on selling only essential goods.
The interpretation of this is likely to be left to the store itself, but most such goods they supply are likely to fall into the category of essential; although things like riding clothes (with the probable exception of safety gear like riding hats) are likely to be off sale for the duration of lockdown 2.