The UK national pet charity, Blue Cross, has issued advice for horse owners during the coronavirus outbreak.
There is no current evidence that horses can be infected with the new virus or be carriers of it. However, the charity advises always washing hands with soap and water after handling or stroking your horse for protection against other bacteria.
Following Blue Cross’ tips will help to keep your horse safe during within the confines of current Governmental restrictions:
How can I look after my horse with the new stay at home measures? Under the current restrictions of one form of outdoor exercise per day, many are now having to make changes to the day-to-day care for their horses.
Speak with your yard manager Ensure you are aware of your yard’s policy during the coronavirus pandemic. Some yards may insist on no visitors or have strict rules on number of visitors – so it’s good to phone ahead and keep up to date on your yard rules.
Rough your horse off You may want to consider roughing your horse off and turning them out to grass 24/7 as this will make caring for them during these difficult times a lot simpler.
Beware of laminitis Your horse’s weight will need to be monitored carefully if you choose this approach. Spring grass is starting to come through and too much grass can lead to laminitis.
Visiting your horse The Prime Minister has announced that for a minimum of three weeks from the evening of Monday 23 March, the British public may only leave their homes for limited necessary reasons. One of these reasons is “for one form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household.” This exercise does include checking in on your horse.
Buddy-up We recommend having another horse owner as an ‘in case of emergency’. You’ll be able to call this person if you become ill and you can act the same for them, like a buddy system. Note: Your buddy will need to be insured if handling your horse.
Create a rota for yard visits to check on multiple horses at any one time. This should increase the number of visits your horse receives to at least twice a day. Those self-isolating will need to ask a family member or friend to look after their horse for them.
Can I ride my horse as my one form of exercise? There is always a risk involved with riding and, in the unfortunate event that you have an accident on your horse, a response to that accident may currently be a lot slower than usual.
It’s important that we all do our part for now and lessen the pressure on our NHS so we advise you not to ride during this crisis.
Can a farrier visit my horse? It’s best to contact your farrier to discuss your appointment. The British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association (BFBA) advise that unnecessary travel should be avoided and that registered farriers need to adhere to a new traffic light system which details which visits are essential depending on urgency of hoof care.
Will my vet still be able to visit my horse? Vets are now working on an emergency care basis only, along with providing urgent prescriptions.
To find out more visit https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/coronavirus