COVID-19 Update

Wednesday, March 25

COVID-19 Update

The current COVID-19 crisis is causing worry and disruption to all our lives, and the situation is changing so rapidly, it is affecting us all.  The position we are in today seems inconceivable, even this time last week.  We have a responsibility to do the right thing, to protect the NHS and to do our bit to keep each other safe and well. 

Of course, we also have a responsibility to care for our animals and to ensure that their welfare is not compromised in any way.  

With the constantly evolving situation, there is already a dearth of information and advice flooding the internet.  Some of it may seem frightening or overwhelming, and some just irrelevant to our situation as horse breeders.  After the announcement on Monday, many of us were concerned about how we would manage the welfare of our horses, let alone cope with the breeding season which is, of course, now in full swing.  

We have a responsibility to keep everyone safe if possible, and British Breeding advise all breeders and the equestrian community to strictly adhere to the Government's directive to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to travel.  The welfare of horses and other livestock is still essential, so as an owner, employee or volunteer your travel to provide care is still valid under the current guidance.  The Government have also announced measures to support business and to help weather this storm.  Please keep your own health and safety in mind, as well as that of everyone around you, and observe the same strict biosecurity measures on yards as everywhere else.   

We have gathered some useful information and links that we feel will provide solid guidance for owners and breeders.  

  • The British Equine Veterinary Association are advising vets to concentrate on maintaining 24 hour emergency service for equine patients.  They advise that all non-essential and routine work should be stopped.  They have recognised that stopping routine influenaza vaccinations will have particular implications for competition horses - which would include those attending British Breeding Futurity, Equine Bridge, Stallion event and other British Breeding activities.  BEVA are currently in discussion with the various regulatory bodies looking at ways to minimise the long term impact of temporarily reducing or halting influenza vaccinations.  For all other vaccinations, vets are being urged to make decisions whether to vaccinate on a case-by-case or yard-by-yard basis.  The issue of routine stud / reproductive work raises particular questions. On the basis of the government’s advice, and despite the ability to mitigate risks, BEVA do not see this type of service as essential for animal welfare. However, they appreciate that this has far-reaching implications beyond the veterinary profession, and have sought guidance from government and are in discussion with the breeding industry; they hope to provide further direction soon.  More information can be found at the BEVA website.
  • The Farriers Registration Council interpretation of the Government guidance is that Registered Farriers can continue to provide essential services to equines, and they should continue to attend to equines using their judgement as to matters of priority and/or urgency, and with some provisos concerning social distancing and cleaning of hands and tools.  More information can be found on the FRC website.
  • The British Equestrian federation have issued advice on caring for horses and riding in the current climate.  Detailed guidance on caring for your horse includes precautions to take if you need to travel to your horse to provide care, interaction with others around you and preparing for self-isolation.  They strongly recommend that there should be no unnecessary transporting of horses except for emergency care, and riding should be limited to low risk activity and should avoid activities that carry an increased risk of injury, such as jumping, fast work or riding a young, fresh or spooky horse.  Their full guidance notes are available on the BEF website.
  • The BEF have also provided some extremely useful advice and links for equestrian businesses, outlining the support available from Government.  Read the full BEF guidance for equestrian businesses.  

Please visit the useful links on our COVID-19 page for further information.


In cooperation with: