In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, horse owners up and down the country are being urged to prepare for the worst-case scenario – not being able to get to the yard and take care of their horses
With nobody entirely sure what’s around the corner, it certainly pays to be as prepared as possible when it comes to looking after your horse. Whether you keep him on a private yard or on DIY livery, it’s essential that you have a plan going forward. To get you started, here are a few things to consider…
- Have a contingency plan in place with your yard owner should you be unable to get to the yard for any reason. This will ensure your horse is taken good care of even if you can’t see him yourself. To help you out, we’ve made a printable emergency care plan for you to fill in for your horse, or horses, to leave at your yard. This will help other liveries, your yard owner and staff know what your horse needs and when should you be unable to get up to the yard yourself.
- Do you have all the supplies you need to get through at least the next few weeks? This could include bucket feed, hay or haylage, supplements, medication and bedding. While there’s no need to panic buy, it’s worth having a healthy supply should worst come to worst and you can’t get out to buy more.
- Will your horse need vaccinating, his back checking or teeth looking at in the coming weeks? While you may be advised to wait for some routine appointments, it’s worth getting in contact sooner rather than later to avoid missing out.
- Get in touch with your farrier to understand their policy during the COVID-19 outbreak. If they know your horse well enough, they may be happy to shoe him without you there. Or, if they’re self-isolating or taking a break to avoid contact with others, they may be able to recommend other local farriers happy to help. Alternatively, see if you can use a friend’s farrier, or get your horse’s shoes taken off and rasped in case it’s a while before you can get him shod again.
- Buddy up with a friend at the yard and agree to help each other should either of you become unable to get down for any reason. If nothing else, top and tailing your yard routine will reduce the amount of time you spend in the company of others, helping you stay in line with social distancing.
- Follow the guidelines laid out by the NHS and the government to help keep you and others around you safe. Avoid busy times at the yard, stick to social distancing recommendations and keep a bottle of hand sanitiser with you if you can’t wash your hands when you get to the yard and when you leave.
- Practise good biosecurity measures. Ensure you have all your own kit and avoid sharing with others – if you currently share, thoroughly disinfect each item and buy a second set for one of you to use.
- While there’s no evidence to suggest that our beloved equines can pick up the virus themselves, they could carry it on their rugs and coats. Avoid touching other horses at the yard as much as possible, and, if necessary, take care to wash your hands frequently between horses.
You can’t plan for everything – and remember that as long as your horse is having his basic needs taken care of, that’s what matters most. Keep yourself safe and don’t take unnecessary risks. Your horse will be more than safe in the hands of your capable yard owner.
Make sure you print out our emergency care form, and prepare yourself now