New guidelines issued to horse owners to prevent spread of Covid-19

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Associate Professor Dr Jane Williams, Head of Research at Hartpury University, is the co-author of a comprehensive set of new guidelines aimed at helping mitigate the spread of Covid-19 within equestrian establishments.

The advisory document, produced by Dr Williams and equine scientist Dr David Marlin, provides details of the responsible practices that should be adopted by horse owners and yard owners, based on research and national government guidance, to reduce transmission of the virus.

The guidelines, endorsed by the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC), World Horse Welfare, RSPCA, the British Horse Society and British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), include advice on implementing a process to ensure horses are cared for should their owners be taken ill.

The eight-page dossier also covers guidance on introducing time slots for visits to minimise contact with others, avoiding the sharing of equipment, and abiding by the government’s ‘hands, face, space’ health campaign.

Dr Williams and Dr Marlin have produced the guidelines in direct response to their recent survey that found 73% of respondents felt the pandemic had had a significant detrimental impact on their mental health.

Dr Williams said: “Our survey highlighted a number of concerns amongst owners, a large number of whom felt anxiety linked to how they’d cope if they were unable to get to the yard, either because of ill-health or the need to observe self-isolation protocol.”

The survey, which was carried out in October, also suggested 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.

The guidance issued by Dr Williams and Dr Marlin is aimed at helping yards to understand how to comply with measures prescribed by the government in the livery yard environment.

Dr Marlin added: “While the number of coronavirus cases is falling, the message from the government is clear.

“There is no room for complacency in the fight against this virus, so it is imperative that all yards follow the recommended advice outlined in our guidance and take active steps to ensure the necessary Covid-secure measures are adopted.”

Picture: Equine students at Hartpury

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