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Lockdown latest: new guidelines for transporting horses for training or arena hire

Riders in England are advised that they may travel their horses for private training and facility hire thanks to easing of lockdown restrictions.

Following prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on 10 May, British Equestrian (BEF) has reviewed its guidance for the sector.

In accordance with the British Horse Society’s 11 May announcement, the BEF has said that “the equestrian public can exercise their own horses, or those in their care, as they require, including hacking”.

“This must be within any UK government guidelines, including the restrictions on travel that remain in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland,” a BEF spokesman said.

“Social distancing must be observed at all times, as should public health, hygiene and biosecurity requirements.

“We continue to request that riders/drivers/vaulters consider the risk of their activity and ride/exercise where it is safe to do so and within their capabilities and fitness levels for them and their horses. Those residing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should remain within the boundaries of the premises where the horses are kept, where at all possible.”

The government’s announcement that people in England may travel for exercise, as well as its encouraging people to return to work if they cannot work from home, means coaches can travel to yards to give individual training, outdoors.

“Riders can also travel to have one-to-one lessons, as long as social distancing is adhered to throughout,” the spokesman said.

“Coaches, for both face-to-face and online training, must ensure that the necessary measures, risk assessments and safeguarding provisions are put in place, including checking insurance cover with their providers.

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“They should only ride a client’s horse where any shared clothing, tack or equipment has been appropriately disinfected and social distancing of two metres can be maintained at all times.

“Riders are now permitted to transport horses to a venue for an individual lesson or facility hire outdoors. They may meet with one other from outside their household, a coach or other participant, all with the proviso that the appropriate social distancing and hygiene practices are in place.

“Those involved in travelling to or from a venue must all be from the same household. Venues should conduct full risk assessments and ensure that the required public health, hygiene and social distancing measures are implemented effectively.”

The BEF will continue to monitor the situation, as changing government guidelines may affect its position in future, and will issue a statement on equestrian premises, such as riding schools and livery yards, “in due course”. The federation is also working on an overall plan detailing a staged return to formalised training and competition when possible.

Chairman Malcolm Wharton said: “Right across the country most people have upheld their societal responsibility to help with the management of the pandemic and the equestrian community has certainly risen to the challenge. These have been testing weeks with many riders separated from their horses, coaches and grooms, often without income, and riding schools without their clients – whatever our situation, none of us have been unaffected.

“Many have followed our advice to the letter and some have continued to ride, but as safely as is possible and I thank you all for your support. Conditions are right that we can soften our message, as we all know the proven health benefits, both in terms of physical and mental well-being, that exercising with horses brings. We need to remain vigilant, stay alert and not take any undue risks, so that we can continue to ease towards the full resumption of activity, when the time is right.”

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