The British Horse Society have published a guide to help answer your question – Is it safe to keep riding during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Please note, The British Horse Society published this while the guidance was current, it may quickly be superseded following further government updates, or changes to the situation. We will endeavour to provide the most up to date guidance.
We know how much being close to horses can mean to riders and during these challenging times the BHS are advising horse riders that it is safe to ride horses during the current Covid 19 outbreak providing you follow the Government guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.
Professor Whitty, the UK’s Chief Medical Advisor, has stated that it is “very important” for adults and children to continue taking exercise and that being outside is “a very good thing to do”. Activities which involve crowding together in groups for long periods are to be avoided.
Hacking out is being encouraged, not just for exercise for you and your horse but also to help your mental wellbeing during these difficult times.
We have not asked our BHS Approved Centres to close. The BHS advises that Approved Centre activity and freelance coaching by APC is able to continue with the following considerations (find out more here).
PRECAUTIONS TO FOLLOW TO HELP YOU TO CONTINUE ENJOYING YOUR RIDING
- If you feel unwell and are showing the symptoms of Covid 19 do not go to the yard or riding school
- Avoid social contact with others and maintain a 2 metre distance between yourself and others
- Follow the government guidance on hygiene and hand washing, wash your hands before going to the yard or riding school and make sure you wash them frequently when you are there.
How to avoid catching or spreading the virus
- BHS Accredited Professional Coaches or Approved Centre Coaches will already know how to coach and stick within the social distancing guidelines
- Wear your gloves and wash them frequently. Try and keep your yard clothes separate from your home clothes and wash them frequently too.
- Keep your tack and any shared equipment clean using an antiseptic sanitizer.
- When riding keep your distance and try and maintain the 2 metre gap which is advised. We usually ride in very small groups so the risk of social contact is minimal.
- Keep your hacks and sessions as safe as you can. Think about whether you really need to be jumping. There are lots of great flatwork and fun pole exercises to keep you focused and don’t forget ground schooling too.
- Socialising at your yard or riding school is all part of the enjoyment of riding, make sure you follow the Government hygiene guidelines.
People have raised concerns about the emergency services being unable to support accidents during this time. This is referring to mass gatherings or sporting events which is why most have been cancelled. Regular exercising of yourself and your horse does not come within this category.
However, we need to do everything we can to avoid putting additional pressure on the emergency services. So do assess the risk and if your horse is safer to handle from the ground than ride consider lunging or in-hand work (with suitable changes in your horse’s diet) to reduce risk of you getting injured.