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Lockdown: cross-country courses may reopen, while vets’ guidance is updated

Cross-country schooling facilities are among those that may reopen under the latest government guidance – while updated advice has also been issued for vets.

British Equestrian (BEF) today (15 May) gave clarification on what the department for digital, culture, media and sport’s latest guidance, which allows venues providing outdoor sport activities to reopen, means for riders in England.

An update for Wales is expected in the near future, but guidance for Scotland and Northern Ireland remains unchanged.

“For the equestrian industry, this includes riding centres, training facilities and venues, cross-country courses, farm rides and the like,” a BEF spokesman said.

“Those involved with the facilities should feel adequately prepared to reopen and be confident that they can do so safely for their participants and staff.

“It’s our understanding that indoor schools should remain closed.

“Horses can be transported to venues freely, but anyone involved in helping with the travelling must be from the same household only. This also applies when travelling by car. Where participants are under-18, a parent or guardian may be present for one to one training sessions for safeguarding purposes, but must adhere to social distancing and hygiene requirements.”

The requirements for opening can be found on the BEF website.

Updated guidance has also been released for vets, after consultation with the profession.

British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) chief executive David Mountford said: “In a nutshell the advice is now that, while no equine veterinary procedures are automatically ‘off limits’, every visit/procedure should be risk-assessed and should only go ahead where the risks (to physical safety and disease transmission) can be sufficiently mitigated.

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“In practice this means that, while non-emergency procedures such as vettings or a pre-breeding checks may be safely carried out in one set of circumstances, it might only be safe to carry out parts of the procedure in a different scenario and, in another situation, it may not be safe to carry out the procedure at all.

“Vets are trying to find clever ways to work while minimising the risk of spreading, or catching, the virus and avoiding putting themselves at increased risk of physical injury.

“Not compromising the 2m rule creates significant challenges especially given that, even under normal circumstances, the equine veterinary profession is one of the most hazardous.  It’s important that everyone remembers that the safety of vet and client are paramount and should not be compromised, especially for non-emergency procedures.”

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