The board of British Equestrian (BEF) met to refresh its position on riding and training during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the Prime Minister’s speech, the advice surrounding the equestrian sector has been reviewed
While the COVID-19 crisis remains at stage four of the government’s Alert Levels, the virus is considered to be under control and the UK has now passed the peak. Relaxations to the lockdown guidelines are yet to be introduced, however with the NHS now working within its capacity, riders are encouraged to resume exercising their horses – provided they continue to observe social distancing alongside public hygiene, health and biosecurity measures.
Riders of all disciplines should continue to assess the level of risk associated with the sport, and to work within their capabilities and fitness levels to reduce risk. Riders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should continue to stay within the boundaries of the property their horses are kept on where possible.
For those in England only, the relaxation on travel for exercise and a return to work for many means one-to-one training is now permitted. Coaches can travel to yards, and riders to their instructors. Facility hire is also now permitted, provided venues conduct thorough risk assessments beforehand.
The situation will continue to be monitored and advice reviewed, based on advice from the UK government, as required to keep riders and horses safe.
BEF Chairman, Malcolm Wharton, commented: “Conditions are right that we can soften our message, as we all know the proven health benefits, both in terms of physical and mental wellbeing, that exercising with horses brings. We need to remain vigilant, stay alert and not take any undue risks, so that we can continue to ease towards the full resumption of activity, when the time is right.”
What does this mean for competition?
The BEF is finalising an umbrella plan to act as guidance for the equestrian sector and all of its stakeholders. It’s working closely with British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping and it’s understood that bodies will be shortly releasing their own operational plans complemented by this guidance, detailing their own stages towards resuming training and competition.
A statement issued by the BEF showed some positivity for the commencement of competition, too, sharing that, “wider equestrian activity and some horse sports can adapt well to social distancing requirements and should be in a position to get underway quickly, once conditions permit and government gives the go-ahead.”
For more information, visit britishequestrian.org.uk