British Equestrian Federation (BEF) COVID-19 update

Posted on 23rd March 2020

Advice and help available for equine industry businesses and employers

23rd March 2020

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) would like to thank the equestrian community for their current support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These are unprecedented times for society in general and we all need to play a part in helping to manage and restrict the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Government’s messaging for social distancing, avoiding unnecessary travel and shielding is growing ever stronger in light of some individuals choosing not to adhere to the guidance. As such, our advice for the cessation of all organised equine activity remains in place in order to support Government recommendations to stay at home wherever possible.

Organised activity includes traveling your horse for lessons or schooling, having a coach travel to your yard, having a lesson at a riding centre and riding in large groups. However, we actively encourage enjoying your horse in the fresh air due to its benefits to your wellbeing and mental health, and those responsible for the care of a horse can still travel to care for and exercise them, either in an arena (preferably outdoors) or on a hack, provided you strictly follow the current Public Health England guidelines when visiting. If you keep horses at home, please keep up with the information on hygiene. It’s also important to be aware that health services in the UK are currently stretched to capacity, so consider avoiding any activities that might carry an increased risk of injury, such as riding a fresh or young horse.

What’s being done to help you?

We recognise that this advice has far-reaching implications for a number of our stakeholder groups, and that businesses and individuals will be hit financially. The UK Government has announced an initial £330 billion of help through number of measures to help, which we’ve summarised as a guide to help those in need access the assistance available.

Vital links COVID-19: support for businesses

GOV.UK: COVID-19: guidance for employees

HM Treasury: How to access government financial support if you or your business has been affected by COVID-19

Helpful link for small businesses and those who are self-employed

National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses

Businesses and employees

For all UK businesses, there is support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where all employers can access support to continue to pay part of their employees’ salaries for those who would have otherwise been laid off during this crisis. On 20 March, the following measures were announced/expanded upon:

We have had confirmation from the Sport and Recreation Alliance that riding schools, livery yards and competition centres fall under the umbrella of those businesses considered to be ‘for assembly and leisure’ – provided they are normally open to the public – and as such are eligible for the help currently on offer from the Government:

Business rates and cash grants



You can find additional details on the Scottish Government’s package of reliefs and grants here.

Northern Ireland


You can find additional details online on the Business Wales website.

If you can’t find your rateable value, you can search for it using your postcode on GOV.UK.

The Equestrian Employers Association has further advice on equine businesses and their employees.

Self-employed/freelance individuals

Some measures have been brought in to assist those who are self-employed or work in a freelance capacity, but further measures are expected this week:

For grooms in this category, the British Grooms Association has some further advice and will update with any developments.


For both businesses and individuals, the HMRC has set up a dedicated COVID-19 helpline to help those in need on 0800 0159 559, in addition to other HMRC phone contact numbers. Opening hours are 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday, and 8am to 4pm on Saturday. 

Further updates

We are continuing to closely work with DEFRA via the British Horse Council in a bid to provide any further advice and guidance on the restrictions in place currently, in addition to any future measures that may come into force generally or particularly around equestrian activity, including the day-to-day care and exercise of horses. 

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