Lockdown update: confirmation on riding school reopening, lesson travel and arena hire

  • Riding schools may not open nor is arena or facility hire allowed until 29 March, the British Horse Society (BHS) has confirmed.

    Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday (22 February) that schools would reopen on 8 March, when there would also be slight changes to the restrictions on meeting people outdoors, and that sport would restart 21 days later.

    The BHS has been reviewing the Government’s 2021 Covid spring response, and has now clarified what this means for riding schools, livery yards and coaches in England.

    “With the exception of riding schools that also operate as further education colleges, the current restrictions do remain in force until 29 March,” a spokesman said, adding that after this date, riding schools can open again for lessons, with the “rule of six” restriction in place.

    Until then, coaches can still give one-to-one lessons at a horse’s home yard, and riders can meet one person outside their households to hack with, but arenas and facilities may not be hired out and travel of horses should only be on welfare grounds.

    From 29 March, riding schools can reopen to the public, outdoor and covered area and facility hire can resume, plus horses may travel for lessons and exercise. Coaching and lessons can involve up to five people, plus the trainer, and riders can hack in groups of up to six people.

    Organised sport and clinics can resume, and travel of horses to such events is allowed, although the Government directive is still to “stay local”. There will be no restriction on numbers of people at shows, as long as social distancing measures are adhered to.

    From 12 April at the earliest, these restrictions on numbers will apply but indoor facilities such as horse simulators may open, and residential camps can run, if the accommodation is self-contained and restricted to one household, such as staying overnight in a lorry.

    From 17 May, at the earliest, a 30-person gathering limit will apply outdoors, so group lesson sizes can increase and spectators will be allowed to return to events.

    From 21 June, it is hoped there will be no restrictions on the number of people who can meet.

    Continues below…

    A BHS spokesman said: “At last what we have all been waiting for and working towards, the future is starting to look more positive.”

    Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the nation’s route out of lockdown on 23 February.

    The BEF is working with Horsescotland and member bodies to establish what it means for the equestrian industry, but it looks as though activity could restart on 26 April.

    Lockdown restrictions continue in Wales, with 12 March the next review date.

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