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Horses and self isolation

Horses and self isolation

What about my horse?

We have put together 2 yard check lists & feeding advice. 

Featured image Alanna Clarke Equestrian

Update 27th March from

Horses, livestock and other animals

Advice if you have symptoms of coronavirus / covid 19 and must remain at home for 7 days, or 14 as a household

If you have a horse in livery, you must not visit them whilst you are self-isolating. You should contact your yard manager or vet to make suitable welfare arrangements.

If you have livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, or any other types of livestock you should arrange for someone else who is not self-isolating to care for your animals.

Where this is not possible you should ensure the basic needs of your animals are met. You must make sure you wash your hands before and after handling your animals and ensure you remain 2 metres away from other people.

If you are too unwell to care for your animals and there is no one to help, you should call the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) or your local authority.

Advice if you do not have symptoms of coronavirus

You may leave your house to exercise once a day and you should combine this with leaving your house to provide care for your horse or livestock.

It is essential that you minimise the time spent outside of the home and remain 2 metres away from others. You should remember to wash your hands before and after contact with any animals.

If your horse needs urgent attention from a farrier

If your horse requires urgent attention from a farrier, you should phone the farrier to arrange the best approach to meet your horses’ needs. You and the farrier must ensure that you keep 2 metres apart and wash your hands before and after contact with the horse.

Published by Lingfield 25th March

The British Equestrian Federation urges all members of the equestrian community to strictly adhere to the Government’s directive to stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel. The welfare of horses, and other livestock, is still essential, making your travel as an employee, owner or volunteer to provide care valid under the current guidance. Please keep your own health and safety in mind, as well as that of everyone around you.

At present, there are no definitive guidelines or restrictions around caring for and riding horses, and we will share anything which becomes available from government via the British Horse Council. To help through these uncertain and ever-changing times, we’ve put together some guidance for you around looking after and riding horses under the current requirements.

  1. Feeding-Advice-during-lockdown.pdf
  2. Check-list-1 what to do now.pdf
  3. Check-List-2-Self-Isolation.pdf

What to do now and what to do if forced to stay home.

Am I allowed to ride? 

  1. It’s up to you. Currently there are no rules about this.
  2. Most people consider it unwise and irresponsible – why? in case you have an accident.  No one needs to be taking up time at hospitals right now – they are busy and no one there would thank you either. They are struggling to keep going, looking after patients and keeping free of the virus – never mind looking after someone who was out there having fun with their horse.
  3. For the same reason, it would be sensible and responsible to wear a hat/helmet when handling your horse right now.
  4. Think carefully therefore, before doing anything even slightly risky.

Going to the yard

Prepare yourself

The BEF state:

  • Keep visits to a minimum without compromising your horse’s welfare – consider a buddy system with another livery

Lingfield Equine Distance Learning recommendations:

A buddy system will be of no help if both of you are forced to quarantine owing to illness of self or family member. 

For each horse there should be at least one further (third) person who could be called upon to cover basic care in emergencies


Lingfield suggests that a  ‘Coronavirus Group’  or  ‘C19 Group’ should have been set up by the manager/owner at each yard by now – or by the horse owners if that was not forthcoming.   This provides more cover than the buddy system.

All livery owners and helpers should be involved in setting up the group so that cover can be given in emergency situations to care for every horse on the premises.  Contact details of each person should be listed clearly and visibly at the yard.

  • All in the group could be in contact via a group / social media messaging system.
  • A rota system should be set up for emergencies with all involved having access to the list at all times.
  • The yard manager / owner should set up a yard policy for biosecurity purposes as well as a Coronavirus policy and a detailed guidelines document.

The BEF guidelines state:

  • Go to the yard solo – no passengers, family or children
  • Change into clean yard clothes
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before leaving the house
  • Consider putting your horse on full livery if it’s available and financially viable
  • If your horse is on full livery, only make essential yard journeys. Keep in touch by phone, email or video call with the yard.

At the yard

  • Assess your horse’s diet, and reduce energy intake according to the reduced levels of exercise you may be providing.

Feeding advice during the lockdown:

Printable version

  •  Reduce the type of bucket feed you are providing – give a lower energy level feed.  If already on a low energy, high fibre feed then you might need to consider reducing the amount of bucket feed you are giving. 
  • However, be sure you are providing enough vitamins and minerals (feeding a balanced diet).  To enable this provide a good all round supplement.
  • Alternatively – to provide a well balanced diet, you could instead introduce a balancer.
  • A balancer is a highly concentrated feed which includes vitamins and minerals. This could replace all hard / bucket feed.
  • Remember to introduce new feeds over a period of 7-10 days to prevent your horse having gut problems / getting ill.

If you are not at a livery yard and keep your horse at home or alone, if in an emergency situation, you cannot find anyone to do your horse, you will have little option but to follow the advice in Check List 1 below and take even greater care to protect others.

However, no one knows what might happen in the next few weeks. It is entirely possible that you or someone close to you might be taken seriously ill so it would be wise to be prepared and follow the advice in Check List 2 below.

Your journey to the yard is valid to enable you to care for livestock – your horse.  Carry on feeding, mucking out, sweeping – (and riding if you must and if your horse is sensible and if you feel comfortable enough about that).  Take care though.  Horses are unpredictable, you do not want to have an accident and put yourself at risk by being taken to hospital.  They would not thank you at a time like this.  BE CAREFUL around horses – do not take any risks at all.

However, when going to the yard be aware that anyone you see or meet could be infected – including you, but may not be showing symptoms yet.  It is vital therefore, to take precautions to prevent unwittingly spreading the virus to anyone else as well as protecting yourself. Be sensible and safe.   It is everyone’s responsibility to try to prevent this virus spreading.

Check list 1  – Use this now

Printable version

What to take with you to the yard:

  • 2 pairs of rubber gardening or washing up gloves (e.g. Marigolds etc).
  • A bottle / flask of hot soapy water & Hand sanitiser and tissues.
  • An old tea towel (in a plastic carrier bag).
    • Wet the tea towel with soapy water – wipe things you have touched before and after use.
  • Wear the washing up gloves to do any work and to handle anything at the yard.
  • Wipe down gate and stable catches, tops of doors and any areas of fencing you might touch.  Do this before and after touching things where necessary.
  • Headcollars and Hay nets especially the ties / buckles should be wiped down after touching.  Water bucket handles should also be wiped if necessary.
  • Make sure you use your own equipment – e.g. grooming kit, mucking out tools and wheelbarrow and wipe them down after use just in case anyone else touches them by mistake.
  • If you do not have your own mucking out equipment be sure to wipe tools and wheelbarrow handles down with sanitiser or soap and water before touching them – and wipe again afterwards.
  • In communal areas – hay barns, toilets, tack rooms etc. be sure to wear gloves and wipe anything down before and after touching if necessary.  Door handles, toilet seats, toilet flushing handles and taps and hose pipe ends are especially important in case you are infected, likely to be infected or are vulnerable.
  • Keep your distance from others at the yard – especially important when speaking to them – but preferably wear a scarf or home made mask over nose and mouth at all times.  (home made mask – kitchen paper towel and elastic bands – look on the net)
  • Remember that the floating droplets of infectious mucuous / spittal spread on the breeze.
  • Remember to cough into elbow or tissue and throw the tissues away – or put in bag and dispose of at home – and wash jacket / clothes also.   Do not get closer than 6 foot / 2m to others. Do not use their equipment.
  • If you keep your horse at a yard with other horses, be sure you respect other owners and keep any probable unknown infection to yourself.
  • Wash your hands properly before going to the yard – and whilst at the yard if possible.
  • Wear an easily washable scarf (or mask) enabling you to cover nose and mouth to help prevent inhaling/spreading droplets containing the virus which could infect you or others if droplets are floating on the breeze – and they do spread quite a long way on the breeze – be aware of this.  Most masks and scarves will unfortunately allow small viral droplets through but larger ones might be prevented.  They must be washed after use.

The BEF guidelines state:

  • Take advantage of feed, hay and bedding suppliers who offer a delivery service, and liaise with them closely to ensure that their service isn’t impacted. Make provision of essential supplies so you are prepared in the event of a shortage.
  • Respect any restrictions put in place by the yard owner or manager – they are for your safety and their own. It’s their business and/or home.
  • Wash hands thoroughly on arrival – take soap and water with you if the facilities aren’t available.
  • Avoid activities that carry an increased risk of injury and consider wearing an up-to-standard riding hat while handling your horse
  • Limit the number of visitors to the yard, and ask that those who do visit, to closely follow hygiene and social distancing guidance
  • Keep your visit timely and avoid lingering – only carry out what’s necessary to ensure your horse’s welfare and wellbeing
  • Wash hands thoroughly before leaving the yard
    • Lingfield suggests: Wash hands before getting your keys out and getting into your car
  • If you have hand sanitiser that’s at least 60% alcohol, use it to clean your hands when you get into your car

Back at home:

  • Wash those Marigolds thoroughly at home afterwards (inside and out).  Allow to dry before using again.Image of Gareth and horse
  • Wash flask/bottle used for soapy water too.  Wipe car door handle/keys etc. – anything that you touched  without washing hands first.
  • Wash yard clothes, scarves, tea towel and cloths used for cleaning. Wipe seats too.
  • Use your home time to upgrade your skills.  Study something you love right here – click to gain an Intermediate Diploma with Lingfield.

 The British Equestrian Federation guidelines state:

Arriving home

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap straight away
  • Have a specific ‘yard visit’ towel to dry your hands on
  • Get changed immediately into clean, fresh clothes

If you keep your horse(s) at home, many of these points, particularly around hygiene and clothing, should be observed.


Suppose I have mild symptoms?

What if I catch Corona virus and get ill?

In both cases you should avoid going to the stables / yard.  Responsible people will avoid spreading this virus.  Report your cough and temperature to the NHS – SEE BELOW. 

Follow their advice and stay home – and now you must quarantine yourself. 

Here is advice from the British Equestrian Federation:

If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or if somebody in your household does, even if they’re only mild, do not visit your horse.

You will need to self-isolate for at least seven days or 14 in a shared household.

If you have no alternative and it’s a question of welfare, you can attend to your horse but only as a last resort and within your own property boundaries when riding.

Lingfield suggests:

If you keep your horse with others and are quarantined you MUST find someone else to do your horse.

What if I HAVE to self isolate?

If your household has to self isolate owing to infection, be prepared and follow the advice in Check List 2 below.

Preparation is vital:

Start today: 

Groups:   Contact other owners at the yard before you show symptoms – this is important.

If there are very few of you it would be sensible to call on other friends and or acquaintances who do not have horses at the same yard who would be prepared to help out in an emergency.

Between you you must to set up a Coronavirus or C19 Emergency Group.

You need a network of people who are prepared to care for another person’s horse in cases of illness.  Ask who is prepared to put their name down as a volunteer and who will be the contact person for emergencies.  Set up a social media group so that you can all keep in contact.  In some cases it might be sensible to set up a rota system between you – recorded clearly – to care for horses whose owners may become ill or who have to self-isolate.  Ask the yard manager or owner to support the setting up of this group.

Livery Yard Managers:

You should set up a yard C19 group with all owners on board to provide support and advice straight away.  It will be your yard Policy covering the duration of this emergency. If you get owners on board straight away you are more likely to have everyone’s co-operation. Everyone should prepare themselves for this emergency situation right away – do not leave it until tomorrow.  We will update this page and are preparing a Livery Yard Managers printable Coronavirus check list and  basic Policy document.

What if I keep my horse at home or at a place where there support from other owners? 

If you are too unwell to do your horse, you will have to enlist the help of  someone outside your immediate family group to do it for you until you are better and over the self isolation period.  

Buddy system? We say no to Buddy systems 

A buddy system is just not good enough.  A buddy system only works if both of you (and your immediate family) stay well. If both buddies have to isolate there MUST be another plan in place.   You really need a group of people in place.

Check List 2 – self isolation

Printable version

What should horse owners do to prepare for self-isolation?

Set this up now – don’t leave it. Preparation is vital

Printable version coming soon.

  1.  Make clear lists of how things are done for your horse, in what order and when.  Horses thrive on routine. If the yard has not set up a C19 Group, set up your own for you and your horse.  Enlist a buddy to stand in for you – or work with another owner at the yard.  Enlist another (3rd) helper to care for your horse in case of emergencies.  Record their details at the yard.
  2. Be sure your feed charts are up to date and feed is labelled properly – be sure the scoop sizes are clearly charted.
  3. Feeding Notes: 
    1. It would be sensible to reduce energy feed levels NOW. 
    2. If horse is on reduced or no exercise be sure to reduce energy feeds – over 7-10 days.  
    3. Consider weighing the food – and the hay/haylage to be sure helpers get it right? 
    4. Buy some hanging scales for hay/haylage.
    5. Include on the charts any supplements & how they are fed. 
    6. Photographs of amounts to feed may assist helper to get this right.
    7. Get stocks of food and bedding in to cover shortages later .
  4. Make sure the person/s standing in for you knows which rugs are used & when – you could provide photographs for clarification.  If boots are used. similar photos could be useful – with boots fitted and where stored.
  5. Be sure that your own, your vet and your farrier contact details are listed / clearly displayed.
  6. Provide a notebook: for helpers to record a dated list of concerns, incidents, issues or worries.  They can then follow up with the you the owner to clarify the issue, or discuss with other owners to find the best way forward.  The issue can hopefully be handled / sorted / settled.
  7. The notebook should contain your own notes and information on where you buy your horse food in case you run out.  The situation regarding medication or worming, normal temperature, pulse, respiration and weight will be handy too.
  8. Further notes should include information which may assist in the care, i.e. tips on personality or ways of doing things which are specific to your horse.  e.g. ‘gets stressed when you bring out the fly fringe’.  ‘Not good with the farrier – he must be held and have titbits at the ready’.
  9. Everyone should work quickly and leave the yard as soon as possible.  It might be nice to socialise but actually this will not help us all in the wider community.
  10. Be responsible, and be safe.  Get home asap. Wash clothes and hands and wipe down with a good alcohol based wipe anything you touched – including the relevant parts of your car, keys and personal items.
Jess at her yard

Jess T at her yard

Updating your skills

Whilst you are spending more time at home why not upgrade your skills with the Lingfield Livery Yard Managers & Intermediate Diploma courses.

Click the image for more detail.

BEF Guidelines on Riding

There is currently no government guidance in relation to riding, so it is down to you to decide whether this is necessary.

Given that health services are currently stretched to capacity,  it’s sensible to avoid any activities that carry an increased risk of injury, such as jumping, fast work and riding a young, fresh or spooky horse.

Lingfield suggests:

  • Horses are unpredictable. Even the bombproof horse is unpredictable at times.  You do not want a trip to hospital at this time – they have enough to do.  Putting yourself at risk is irresponsible in the current circumstances.
  • If it is NOT necessary to ride ask yourself – ‘why am I riding?’ 
  • Turnout, lunge, long rein or do some groundwork instead. Give your horse a complete break.

BEF state: If you must hack out, be mindful of other people walking, cycling and running, and keep the two-metre distance.

  • If you really must ride out, make sure you are sensible and safe
  • Why not consider riding early in the morning when fewer people are around or very early evening when many are at home preparing their evening meal.

The BEF says Lungeing, in-hand work and turn-out  are good alternatives to ridden exercise.

  • If you are unsure how to lunge or work in hand, contact the Lingfield schooling tutor for tips and advice. 

Lingfield tutors also said we should be aware that:

  • People may be infectious with this coronavirus Covid 19 for a week or more before they show any symptoms.
  • When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of saliva or mucus. These droplets can fall on people in the vicinity and can be either directly inhaled or picked up on the hands then transferred when someone touches their face, causing infection.
  •  For flu, in hospital conditions. hospital guidelines define exposure as being within six feet of an infected person who sneezes or coughs for 10 minutes or longer – but this virus is more virulent than flu.
  • In totally still conditions, expelled large droplets of saliva/mucus are carried more than 6 m away by exhaled air from sneezing, more than 2 m away by coughing, and perhaps 1 m away by breathing.   However, if there is just a slight breeze these distances can easily be more  than doubled.  Be aware of this and keep your scarf over your mouth and your gloves on – wash your hands and clothes regularly – that includes gloves, scarves and tea towels or cloths used for cleaning.
  • Every one person who is infected, will infect a minimum of 2 people before they realise they have Coronavirus 19. Those two people will then infect another 2 others before the first person is showing symptoms – so that is 7 people infected in a very very short time.  In no time 100 people will be infected from that one source and some of them are bound to be vulnerable and may/will die.

BEF guidelines state:

Equine professionals

Check in with your vet regarding their current policy for non-essential or non-emergency visits, which may include booster vaccinations.

The British Equestrian Veterinary Association has advised its members to focus on emergency treatment at present.


are permitted to work, but it’s best to contact them before any visit to discuss precautionary measures so you’re both ready for them.

The BEF continue to strongly recommend against any unnecessary travel, which includes transporting your horse for anything other than emergency care. Travel to competition or training venues, having a coach travel to your yard, having a lesson at a riding centre or riding in large groups is not advised.

Follow government guidelines for coronavirus

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