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Clarity on horse care after government video confuses owners

Owners are allowed to visit horses more than once a day if this is necessary for their welfare, the government has confirmed.

In guidance for maintaining the welfare of animals during movement restrictions imposed owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Defra states that people who are not showing coronavirus symptoms “may leave your house to exercise once a day, and you should combine this with leaving your house to provide care for your horse or livestock”.

The guidance adds: “It is essential that you minimise the time spent outside of the home and remain two metres away from others. You should remember to wash your hands before and after contact with any animals.”

The information, which was made available via a video on social media, gave rise to questions from concerned owners such as those whose horses are stabled on DIY livery with daily turnout, whose needs must be met twice a day.

In response to requests from H&H regarding horses and other animals who need to receive care more than once a day, Defra has now confirmed that this is allowed, if necessary to maintain their welfare.

The guidance goes on to say that anyone who has symptoms of the coronavirus and keeps horses at a livery yard must not visit them while they are self-isolating.

“You should contact your yard manager or vet to make suitable welfare arrangements,” Defra states, adding: “If you are too unwell to care for your animals and there is no one to help, you should call your local authority.”

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This advice has been widely ridiculed as many DIY livery yards operate without a yard manager, many vets are only attending emergency cases and local authorities are not sufficiently resourced to take on care of horses at very short notice.

The guidance concludes by stating: “There is no evidence of coronavirus circulating in pets or other animals in the UK and there is nothing to suggest animals may transmit the disease to humans. In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.”

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