Bringing your horse back to work

Coronavirus: Advice for Horse Owners

Keeping our families and animals safe and well is a priority during this worrying time. At Petplan Equine we are continuing to receive and pay claims and remain committed to supporting our customers and the health and welfare of horses. During this time of uncertainty, we advise you to stay up to date with the Government’s advice regarding the Coronavirus outbreak and the management of livestock and horses and seek advice from your veterinary practice if you have any concerns.

Last Updated: 14/05/20 Vet Checked Icon

Can Horses Transmit Coronavirus?

There is no evidence to support the fact that horses can transmit the Coronavirus. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that, “while there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, to date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19”. The WHO has stated they will continue to monitor the latest research and update the public with any new findings. The Coronavirus is primarily spread by human-to-human transmission through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.

Measures You Can Take To Keep You and Your Horse Safe

If you are currently not self-isolating and continuing to visit your horse, ensure you are following the Government advice regarding good hygiene:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – for at least 20 seconds each time
  • Always wash your hands immediately when you get home
  • Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are unavailable
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve if you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues straight in the bin and wash your hands immediately
  • Follow social distancing guidelines and avoid contact with anyone who is unwell
  • Avoid touching your face
Furthermore, you may want to consider:
  • Creating a yard rota, so that not everyone turns up at the same time, in an attempt to keep unnecessary social contact to a minimum
  • Wash your hands after using any shared equipment, such as tools, wheelbarrows or the hose pipe
  • Ensure hand washing facilities are available and well stocked
  • Wearing gloves as much as possible
  • Avoiding touching headcollars, tack and equipment other than your own

Can I Keep Riding?

During times like this, we understand that spending time with your horse can provide a much needed source of stimulation and relaxation, aiding your mental wellbeing.

The recent government update has led the Board of British Equestrian (BEF) to discuss their position on riding and training in this period of lockdown. Whilst there has been no major relaxation of lockdown restrictions, the government have announce some changes that have led to the BEF reviewing the advice given to the equestrian sector.

The equestrian community are now being encouraged to resume exercising their own horses, or those in their care, as they require. However, this must still be done within the UK government guidelines, including those on travel that remain in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Social distancing must also be maintained at all times, as well as good hygiene and biosecurity requirements. This being said, riders must also still consider the risk of their activity and ride/exercise where it is safe to do so and within their capabilities and fitness levels, for them and their horse. If your horse has had time off from being exercised, it is important to bring them back into work slowly and correctly, giving your horse’s muscles time to adapt and build up their fitness to reduce the risk of injuries.

In addition, riders in England can begin to resume one-to-one training as coaches are now permitted to return to work, where previously they could not do so from home. Coaches may travel to yards for individual face-to-face training, in outdoor environments and riders may also travel to have one-to-one lessons at another venue, so long as social distancing and good hygiene is adhered to throughout.

What Should I Do If I Need To Self-Isolate and I Have A Horse?

The situation is changing daily and as a result it is strongly advised that horse owners put together a care plan for their horse, should you have to self-isolate or become ill. We have detailed some things you may want to consider, should you not be able to tend to your horse:

  • What’s the Situation?
  • Speak with your yard owner and understand whether they already have a policy in place in case of staff or owners being unable to care for the horses
  • Find a Friend
  • Agree with your yard owner or speak with a friend to put in place measures for the care of your horse. Be sure to check whether whoever is caring for and handling your horse has the correct insurance in place to do so
  • Outline Your Horse’s Routine
  • Create a guide that outlines your horse’s routine; their forage, feed, supplements or any medication they may be on; which rugs you own and any other information that may be specific to your horse
  • Stock Up
  • Make sure that you have enough supplies for your horse. This may include bedding, feed, supplements and any medication they may be on
  • Prepare For Emergencies
  • Create an emergency contact list, including details of your vet and farrier, along with an emergency plan. Make sure whoever is caring for your horse knows who your vet is and what decisions they are allowed to make on your behalf, should you not be contactable
  • Consider Exercise and Turn Out
  • You may need to create an exercise plan which may include the use of a walker, ground work or turn-out schedule. Should your horse be fit and accustomed to high energy feed, a sudden change in routine may be detrimental to them so adjustments should be made gradually. Similarly, if your horse suffers with conditions such as laminitis, exercise and management is key in controlling the disease


We have received a number of questions regarding insurance during this challenging time and answered the top 3 below:

  • Am I still insured to ride?
  • Providing you are following the latest UK government advice on exercise and social distancing, you will be covered as normal for any benefits on your policy.
  • What will happen if I cannot get my horse’s annual vaccination done as a result of Covid-19?
  • If your horse was due to have its annual vaccination from 1st March 2020, but couldn’t as a result of Covid-19, we’re giving a 6 month grace period from when this care was due. This means that within this 6 month period we’ll assess claims as if the vaccinations were given within the timescales we require, even if it hasn’t been.
  • Is there anything I can do to help reduce my premiums in this time of uncertainty?
  • Our equine team will be happy to take you through the options you have for reducing your premiums; please call us on 0345 074 2676. One area to consider is the activities your horse is covered for. The things you do with your horse may have changed since the strict social distancing requirements came into force. It may be that your policy currently covers activities that you won’t be carrying out for a little while. If this is the case for you, there is the option of moving to a lower activity group, which usually reduces your premium.

During this time of uncertainty remember to consider your own mental and physical needs, as well as your horse’s. Although it is vital your horse is well kept, your own well-being is just as important.