Covid-19 (Coronavirus)

Latest Update: 25 March 2020

On Monday 23 March, the UK Government introduced restrictions to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. These restrictions require people to stay at home as far as possible to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. These restrictions will be in place initially for the three weeks following 23 March.

Government introduced three new measures:
1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public

The Government’s directive as of 20:30 on Monday, 23rd March is for everyone to stay at home unless travel is absolutely necessary. Horse welfare is critical and grooms or the sole carer for a horse should travel to provide care for horses. Where horses are kept in livery, horse owners respect the protocol put in place by the yard owner or manager and work as a team to agree a care plan for your horse(s). Social distancing and hygiene should be adhered to – remaining at least two metres apart and avoiding gatherings of more than two people (apart from members of their own household, at any time).

There are no specific government guidelines for the question around whether or not horse should still be ridden/exercised at present. However, it is strongly recommended that it is not appropriate to put unnecessary pressure on the emergency services now or for the foreseeable future. It is incumbent on all of us to make an individual decision as to whether riding/exercising horses is necessary at all, at this time. Decisions can only be taken based on individual circumstances but our choices should always be mindful of the potential impact for ourselves, others and in particular the NHS at its staff.

It is strongly advised that horse owners put together a care plan for their horse(s) should you have to self-isolate or become ill.

Veterinary Care

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA)’s view is that Vets should be doing everything possible to protect human health and follow the recommendations and advice from the UK government, which is based on efforts to reduce the spread of the COVID 19 virus and to protect the NHS.

BEVA’s recommendations include that:
• 24-hour emergency service for equine patients is maintained and that all non-essential and routine work should be stopped.
• Routine procedures, including pre-purchase examinations, routine dentistry, routine health checks, poor performance / mild lameness examinations, etc. should be stopped immediately.
• Telephone / video consultations should be used when feasible.
• For cases where physical examinations are absolutely necessary (i.e. for ill and injured patients), then a declaration from the owner / trainer that they are free from COVID 19 symptoms should be obtained beforehand and social distancing (i.e. at least 2 metres between people) should be practised – however it is appreciate that this may not always be safe, and vets are urged to use their professional judgement and only break the “2 metres rule” when absolutely necessary for maintaining animal and human welfare.
• Routine 6-monthly influenza booster vaccinations be stopped acknowledging that stopping routine influenza vaccinations will have particular implications for competition horses. BEVA are currently in discussion with the various regulatory bodies looking at ways that we can minimise the longer-term impact of temporarily reducing / halting influenza vaccinations.
• ALL other influenza booster vaccinations be halted for one month (to be reviewed after that time).
• For the administration of other equine vaccines, such as tetanus, equine herpesvirus and rotavirus vaccines, we urge veterinary surgeons to make decisions whether or not to vaccinate on a case-by-case or farm-by-farm basis.

BEVA are seeking further guidance from government regarding routine stud/reproductive work and hope to provide further direction soon. Please check with your own local Veterinary Practice as to their individual coronavirus policy or further restrictions.

Farriers

The Farriers Registration Council (FRC) has engaged with Government to seek agreement that the work of farriers be allowed to continue.

It is agreed that the FRC interpretation of the Government guidance is that Registered Farriers can continue to provide essential services to equines, and they should continue to attend to equines using their judgement as to matters of priority and/or urgency with provisos to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Please check with your own farrier with regard to his individual coronavirus policy or further restrictions.

Feed Supplies

It is our understanding that suppliers of feed, bedding and appropriate veterinary medicines will remain open for business under similar Government advice that allows pet shops to remain open for access to animal supplies. Please check with your local suppliers.

The situation regarding the Coronavirus is changing rapidly, and we should be aware that further guidance from the government may alter this information.

The STAGBI office has adopted the required contingency plans so that STAGBI can at present continue to fulfil its role as a Passport Issuing Organisation. Whilst the office itself is closed, the work will be continues as we will continue to work remotely from home and you can contact STAGBI via email (info@standardbred.org) or on the mobile number 07581438805 during normal office hours.

STAGBI hopes that all its members remain safe and heed the Governments advice to limit the spread of Coronavirus.