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. If you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, you may have to follow additional restrictions. 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.

Government guidance states that it is rare for an animal to catch coronavirus. If they do contract the virus, they often only show mild symptoms and are better within a few days.

There is limited evidence that coronavirus can pass from infected humans to animals such as cats and ferrets. However, this does not currently include horses.  As a precaution, you should:

  • wash your hands with soap before and after any contact with your horse, its food and bedding
  • avoid contact such as kissing or cuddling

Frequently asked questions

There is currently no Covid-19 vaccine available for use in animals, including dogs and cats. 

Despite recent media reports, there is no evidence that animals can pass coronavirus to people. However, as a precaution you should follow good hygiene routines including washing your hands before and after any contact with your pet, its food and bedding.
 

You may leave your home whenever you need to. This includes caring for and exercising your horse. However, some yards may have strict rules on the number of visitors, so check with your yard manager.

You should also adhere to any national or local restrictions. This includes where you keep your animal in livery or on private land.

Speak with your yard manager

If your horse is kept at a yard, speak with your yard manager to understand the plans and any restrictions in place. 

Visiting your horse

You are currently able to travel as many times as you need to care for or exercise your horse.

Yes. In England, you can ride your horse outdoors within a group of up to 30 people. From 17 May, you may also exercise your horse in an indoor space.

You can continue to leave your house to provide care for your horse.

Always speak to your yard manager to understand the plans and any restrictions to visitors in place during this period.

Both outdoor and indoor organised sports, such as show jumping, are now able to take place.

Yes. Vets are open but many are working within government restrictions and may not be able to see as many animals as usual.

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

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.
 

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 17/05/2021

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