Horses and self isolation
We have put together 2 yard check lists & a check list with feeding advice.
Featured image Alanna Clarke Equestrian
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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.
What to do now and what to do if forced to stay home? Follow Government guidelines here.
Am I allowed to ride?
- It’s up to you. Currently there are no rules about this.
- Many people consider it unwise and irresponsible – why? in case you have an accident. Although coronavirus issues are slowing no one needs to be taking up time at hospitals right now – and who is going to do your horse?
- For the same reason, it would be sensible and responsible to wear a riding hat when handling your horse right now.
- Think carefully therefore, before doing anything even slightly risky.
Going to the yard
Many suggest a buddy system but that will be of no help if both of you are ill or forced to quarantine yourself 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
CORONAVIRUS / C19GROUP
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 have already 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
- (we are not sure which planet they are on at the BEF !)
- 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.
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.
Back at home:
- Wash those Marigolds thoroughly at home afterwards (inside and out). Allow to dry before using again.
- 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.
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What if I keep my horse at home or at a place where there support from other owners?
If you keep your horse(s) at home, be aware that no one knows what might happen to them in the next few weeks. It is entirely possible that you or someone close to you might have symptoms or be taken seriously ill so it would be wise to be prepared and follow the advice in Check List 2. 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.
What if I catch Corona virus and get ill?
Most people assume they wont get the virus – but it is a possibility – so what should you do?
Follow government guidelines – and you must quarantine yourself and your household.
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. Lingfield suggests follow advise in Check List 2 in case this happens. You will need to self-isolate for at least seven days or 14 in a shared household.
If you keep your horse with others and are quarantined you MUST find someone else to do your horse. If your household has to self isolate owing to infection, be prepared and follow the advice in Check List 2
Set up a C19 Group today. 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 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 is prepared to be the contact point 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 information:
You should as suggested above, set up a yard C19 Emergency Group. Involve all owners at the outset. Getting owners on board will help you provide support and advice straight away.
Do this no matter how you may have already organised your livery owner visits. It will be your yard Policy covering the now extended 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 future emergency situations right away – do not leave it until tomorrow.
Buddy system? We say no to Buddy systems on their own.
A buddy system is just not good enough. A buddy system only works if buddies, and their 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 to provide full cover.
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.
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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.
- 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.
- During equine flu epidemics the veterinary advisors suggest that infected droplets from a coughing or sneezing horse can spread 30 – 40 yards – and up to 100 yards/metres on a breezy day. We are not that different – be aware.
- 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:
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.
Farriers 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.