Caring for your horse in the Covid-19 outbreak

From the 23rd March the government introduced restrictions to slow and limit the spread and impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Many horse owners are worried about how to care for their horse if they aren’t kept at home. Caring for your horse is an essential requirement and horse owners have a duty of care under the Animal Welfare Act. However, you need to do this whilst complying with the latest government guidance.

It is not advised to ride your horse or take part in any activity which puts you at risk of requiring medical attention as the NHS are currently very overstretched. If you can turn your horse out to grass (on grazing suitable for your individual horse so you aren’t risking Laminitis) it will make it much easier to just do basic maintenance care and go home again.

Visit your horse only once per day if possible. If your horse is kept on a livery yard, try to arrange with the others on the yard for one person to check on several horses in one visit, meaning that you do not need to go to the yard more often than is absolutely necessary. This will be easier if your horse is out at grass.

Discuss with others at your yard a plan of action to care for each other’s horses if one or more person at the yard needs to self-isolate or becomes ill. Ensure that you have enough bedding, hay, feed and medication to last at least a fortnight as you will not be able to visit a shared yard if you are showing symptoms. Check that your equine first aid kit is fully stocked.

Have all your contact details and vets’ details written down somewhere obvious and accessible to anyone who may need to look after your horse. Also make a note of any special requirements your horse needs such as medication or information people may need to know about his behavioural habits that could put them at risk. For instance, is he likely to fret or jump out of the field if left alone?

It is not advisable to share tools and wheelbarrows or be at the yard at the same time. If people are handling the same tools, door handles, locks etc, it is advisable to wipe them down with disinfectant after each visit.

Routine veterinary visits are currently suspended, but vets will still attend in an emergency. You can call your vet to help you decide if it can wait 3 weeks or whether they need to come out. Likewise, you can discuss with your regular farrier or hoof trimmer to decide whether your horses hoof care is urgent.

Regularly check national government websites for the latest information and guidance. A helpful guide to the Covid-19 outbreak can be found here.

Only get information about Coronavirus from places you can trust These places are:

• The UK coronavirus (COVID-19) page

The NHS coronavirus (COVID19) page

NHS 111 online

• If you are planning to travel abroad check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice page

• Follow Public Health England or The Department of Health and Social Care on Twitter for regular updates

Article by: Amy Williams

Posted on: 26th March 2020