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Owners fear impact of pandemic on their own horse’s care, survey reveals

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The results from a 2020 survey have revealed how a pool of more than 1,500 owners are being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

In October 2020 equine scientists Dr David Marlin, Dr Jane Williams of Hartpury University and Dr Hayley Randle from Charles Stuart University in Australia conducted a survey of 1,500 owners to find out how they’ve been affected by the pandemic.

The results of the survey showed that many UK owners hold fears of how loss of income or having to self-isolate could affect their ability to care for their horses. Similar concerns over increased livery costs due to continued lockdowns and the potential for restricted access to feed, medications, farriers and physiotherapists were also widespread.

More than half of owners who took part said the pandemic had negatively affected their physical health, although the responses varied dramatically with regards to the amount of time they had for riding and exercise. 73% also stated the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, with illness, bereavement, financial worries, lack of social contact and an increase in stress over who would care for their horse should they become ill all being contributing factors.

The survey also flagged up that many yards have yet to put any Covid-19 safeguards in place – of these, DIY yards were particularly guilty.

Dr David Marlin said: “Given the current surge in coronavirus cases and the emergence of highly contagious new variants, it’s imperative that private livery yards take immediate action and put into place the appropriate plans to ensure the facilities they offer are in line with the precautions currently advised to all businesses. Owners need to be updated on the measures put in place and given clear guidance on the revised protocols to be rolled out – and the importance of adhering to the new regime.

This survey also demonstrates the need for owners to put in place their own covid survival plan to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of their horse in the event of the need for physical or financial support. This is no time for complacency or ‘covid-fatigue’ to set in. It’s vital that the equestrian industry steps up to the plate and plays a stronger role in trying to fight the pandemic. This survey also backs up the argument that horse welfare related activities – such as continued access to feed, drugs, farriers and physios – must remain exempt from any future quarantine restrictions.”

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