BEF advice on caring for horses and riding in the current climate

Posted on 24th March 2020

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.

Going to the yard

At the yard

Leaving the yard

Arriving home

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

Prepare for self-isolation

Make a plan with your yard owner or manager, or your fellow liveries, for what will happen if you’re unable to get to the yard. 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.


There is currently no Government guidance that we are aware of 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. If you must hack out, be mindful of other people walking, cycling and running, and keep the two-metre distance. Lungeing, in-hand work and turn-out are good alternatives to ridden exercise.

We 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.

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. 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.

Regular updates

The situation changes regularly so the guidance above is correct at the time of publication. We’ll endeavour to keep everyone as up to date as possible as any new information is made public. Please follow the GOV.UK website for all the latest general advice.

Other helpful links

British Horse Society

World Horse Welfare

British Grooms Association

Equestrian Employers Association

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