Horse grazing with foal in a field

Coronavirus and horses

Our coronavirus information on this page is written in line with guidelines issued by the Westminster government for England. Rules are largely the same for all areas of the UK but if you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, regulations may differ. Our advice is a guide for pet owners and should not be taken as legal advice. Alongside government advice, we are giving suggestions from Blue Cross experts to help pet owners apply the new measures to caring for their pets. We are updating this advice as frequently as possible, so please keep checking back.

There is no evidence of horses being infected with coronavirus in the UK. The virus that causes Covid-19 has been confirmed in one cat in England from a household containing people who had tested positive for the virus. The government has stated this is “very rare” and that there is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans. The cat has made a full recovery. There is also no evidence to suggest that this coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) is circulating between animals in the UK. All available evidence indicates that the spread of coronavirus in the UK is due to human-to-human transmission.

You should, however, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling your horse as a precaution. This will protect against bacteria, too.

Frequently asked questions

From Wednesday 13 May you will be able to visit your horse as often as you need to provide care for your horse, as long as you adhere to the government’s social distancing guidelines. 

Speak with your yard manager

If your horse is kept at a yard, speak with your yard manager to see if they have any plans in place during this period. Some yards may insist on no visitors or have strict rules on number of visitors – so it’s good to phone ahead and keep up to date on your yard's rules.

Visiting your horse

From 13 May, you can exercise outdoors as often as you wish, while following social distancing measures.

This means that you can now visit your horse as many times as you need to provide care for them.
 

You can ride your horse. This needs to be done following social distancing measures and bearing in mind any risks involved. 

There is always some level of risk involved in riding and, if you do have an accident, the response from emergency services might be slower than usual.

One to one lessons can now start again in outdoor environments. The trainer can either travel to you or the other way around. Keep two metres distance between you and the trainer at all times.
 

From Wednesday 13 May, government guidelines allow you to drive to any location as part of your exercise, which is no longer restricted to once a day. This includes travelling to your horse to care for them and transporting your horse from A to B.
 

If your horse is due a visit from your farrier, you will need to contact them directly to find out what services they are currently running.

Farriery is considered essential work, and Defra has confirmed registered farriers can to continue in their roles during this time. 

British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association (BFBA) advises unnecessary travel should be avoided, and registered farriers need to adhere to a new traffic light system. This details which visits are essential depending on urgency of hoof care.

If your farrier visits, you must remain two metres apart and remember to wash your hands before and after contact with the horse.

Vets are now working on an emergency care basis only, along with providing urgent prescriptions.

Newly revised guidance from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) means that some non-emergency visits, including 12 month boosters, may be possible – but they will assess this on a case by case basis as per advice. Your vet will proceed if they consider the benefit to animal welfare to be greater than the risk to human health. 

During any visits to your horse, your vet will need to adhere to the government guidance on social distancing, this may include asking to attend to your horse alone or at a distance from you.

You can help keep your horse safe with preventative measures for flies and specific things such as sweet itch.
 

With many vets operating on an emergency only basis, you may be concerned with making a claim on your insurance. Normally, many policies become invalid if your horse is not up to date on routine care, such as vaccinations.

During this time, many insurance companies have agreed to take a flexible approach on policy requirements. The Association of British Insurers, which many pet insurance companies are members of, has said it recognises this is an unprecedented time and has advised insurers to be flexible where government restrictions mean owners are unable to get a vet to give their pet’s annual vaccinations and health checks.

Many insurers are also offering additional support through any claims to customers who are worried about the health of their pet during this difficult time.

If your horse is due their vaccinations, and you’re concerned as to how this may affect your policy, it’s best to call your insurance provider directly and discuss this with them.
 

Right now, the most important thing you can do is to have a plan in place in case you need to self-isolate.

Buddy-up

We recommend having another horse owner as an ‘in case of emergency’. You’ll be able to call this person if you become ill and you can act the same for them, like a buddy system.

This person needs to have the following care information for your horse:
•    feed
•    where equipment is stored (and keys/codes if needed)
•    any medication
•    vet’s contact details

Note: Your buddy will need to be insured if handling your horse.

Keep in touch

Speak with your yard manager to see if they have an emergency plan for anyone having to self-isolate and find out what information they need from you to make this run smoothly.

Stay in touch with friends connected to your yard to keep up to date on any changes to yard policies and to create a wider buddy system.

— Page last updated 27/07/2020

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