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9 things to check before you get back in the saddle as lockdown regulations ease

Following prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on 10 May and the new guidance issued by the British Equestrian (BEF) for the sector as a result, we are now permitted to exercise our own horses, or those in our care, as they require — this also includes hacking.

So, before you get back on board, here are some things to consider so that you can enjoy your horse safely…

1. Your horse’s fitness

The chances are that your horse has either been completely off work, or on a reduced amount of work, so brefore you start riding again, consider what you are wanting to do and whether your horse is up to it fitness-wise. If necessary, formulate a fitness plan.

2. Check your tack still fits

Correctly fitting tack is something we are always aware of, but if your horse has been on a reduced workload, they might have changed shape, so make sure they are comfortable and that all stitching is in good order too.

3. Ensure your surroundings are safe

It is important to remember to maintain the 2m social distancing rules while riding and at the yard. Carrying a mini bottle of hand sanitiser in your pocket so it is to hand whenever you need it is also a good idea.

4. That your fitness is adequate

We haven’t been off for an extraordinarily long time, but for the purposes of health and safety, make sure your fitness is up to scratch for what you are trying to achieve before getting back on your horse.

5. If you are going hacking, tell someone where you are going

This should be common practice anyway, but if your horse hasn’t been out and about for a while and is perhaps fresh, tell someone where you are going and roughly how long you should be, just in case something happens.

6. Have someone else there if you can

It is worth having someone on the ground the first time you get on — someone from your own household or someone else, but they must maintain the 2m social distancing rules. At this time in particular you strongly need to consider your own PPE — a body protector might not be the worst idea right now. Remember we need to continue to protect the NHS.

7. You can always lunge

There is no shame in popping your horse on the lunge before you get back on to blow away their cobwebs and to help manage any excess energy. Make sure you wear a hat and gloves if you lunge your horse.

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8. Check liability insurance

British Horse Society membership liability insurance has remained valid during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is worth double checking any other policies you might have before getting back on board.

9. Shoes

This is an obvious one, but if, like many, you had some or all of your horse’s shoes removed when we first went into lockdown, consider whether you need those putting back on in order to ride.

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