Owners of equestrian business owners are being advised to ‘step up to the mark’ and ensure they are adhering to coronavirus protocols to ensure the safety of their clients.
The warning comes after a new survey indentified horse owners’ biggest concerns during the pandemic.
With a sample of more than 1,500 owners taking part, the survey revealed worries over the impact of potential loss of income, becoming ill or having to self-isolate, the fear of increased livery costs as a result of future lockdowns and the possible restricted access to feed, drugs, farriers and physios which could seriously impede their horses’ welfare.
Worryingly, the survey also unveiled the fact that while livery yards appear to have been strong on providing hand-washing or hand-sanitising facilities, the majority – especially DIY yards – had yet to put in place covid-19 plans and many were failing to observe the standard measures prescribed by government, designed to minimise the spread of infection.
Commenting on the survey findings, equine scientist Dr David Marlin said: “Given the current surge in coronavirus cases and the emergence of the highly contagious new variant of covid-19, it is imperative that private livery yards take immediate action and put in place the appropriate plans to ensure the facilities they offer are commensurate with the precautions currently being advised to all businesses.
“Owners need to be updated on the measures that are being 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 should they become ill or if they are forced to self-isolate.
“This is no time for complacency – or for ‘covid-fatigue’ to set in. It is 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.”
The survey was conducted by Dr Marlin, Dr Jane Williams (Hartpury University) and Dr Hayley Randle (Charles Stuart University, Australia).