Looking after your horse can be challenging during the current government-imposed lockdown; especially if, like many of us, you don’t keep your horse at your home address. Since we don’t know exactly how long the current situation will last, at The Insurance Emporium, we want to help you comply with government guidelines while doing what’s best for you and your horse. That’s why we’ve put together our guide to looking after your horse during lockdown.
Follow government guidelines
The most important advice we can give during this time is to follow the guidelines set by the government. Everyone should follow social distancing rules, only make essential journeys, always stay two metres away from people from different households, and only go for one form of exercise per day.
My horse isn’t kept at home. Is travelling to look after them an essential journey?
Fortunately, if you don’t keep them at your home address, driving to look after your horse is considered essential travel. However, as far as possible, you should still only make the journey once a day. This should be enough for most horses, but if your horse requires regular medication or management of a condition, they may need extra care. We’d advise bringing a copy of the ID page on your horse’s passport, to justify your journey if you get stopped on your way to looking after your horse. A photo on your phone should be enough proof.
Can I ride my horse during lockdown?
Officially, you can ride your horse during lockdown as your one form of exercise. However, this should be done at your own discretion. You should still stick to the government guidelines and avoid riding your horse if you’re unable to keep to the two-metre social distancing rule.
Healthcare services are also stretched during this time, and it would be irresponsible to take part in any activity which may pose unnecessary risk. Activities like jumping are inadvisable during this time, as is riding a particularly young horse or one who may be spooked easily.
Alternatives to horse riding
If you decide to avoid riding your horse during lockdown, they’ll still need exercise! For some horses, being out in the field could provide enough opportunity for exercise. However, if you don’t want to turn your horse out to pasture, or if you don’t have the space, you could try alternative forms of exercise like walking your horse in-hand or on the lunge. Keeping the exercise low energy should help to reduce the risk of injury for both you and your horse.
Management changes for your horse during lockdown
Although you’re still able to travel to look after your horse, there are some routines you might be able to change to further adapt to the lockdown. Reducing your horse’s workload and gradually increasing their time at grass might make their management a little easier and help your horse get some exercise, especially if they do not ordinarily live outside.
It’s always recommended to change your horse’s diet gradually, and still have access to hay, as they will most likely have been fed hay throughout winter. If you’re changing your horse’s diet, you’ll want to watch out for signs of laminitis, colic, weight gain or weight loss.
What if my horse needs to see a vet during the lockdown?
To help minimise the amount of direct contact with other people, many vets are providing remote telephone or video consultations rather than routine check-ups. Most vets will only travel to physically see an animal in cases of emergency. If your horse needs ongoing treatment or a prescription, we would recommend contacting your vet to find out how they are handling this, as they may be able to post or deliver your horse’s medication.
Do I need to change anything if my horse is kept on a livery yard?
Your livery yard should have their own protocols and regulations in place during the lockdown to help keep themselves and their clients safe, which should be followed at all times. You should always maintain good hygiene when attending to your horse at the livery yard, keeping at least two metres apart from people and washing your hands regularly. You should also be disinfecting any equipment shared between horses. If you’re unsure about how any of the regular procedures change, you should contact the manager of the livery yard.
Despite the uncertainty clouding the current situation, we’re still able to provide adequate care for our horses. If you’re concerned about the health or welfare of your horse during this time, we always recommend contacting your vet.
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