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Have You Got A Plan In Place?

We’re all hoping for the best. We’re hoping that the Coronavirus disappears as quickly as it arrived but the more advice we receive from the government and governing bodies, this unfortunately seems less and less likely. It’s important to plan and be ready for the ever-changing current situation.

The latest advice from the government at present (2nd April 2020) is:

Can I walk my dog / look after my horse?

Yes – provided it is alone or with members of your household.

People must stay at home as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus. But you can also still go outside once a day for a walk, run, cycle. When doing this you must minimise the time you are out of your home and stay at least two metres away from anyone else that isn’t from your household. (29th March 2020)

For now, we are able to continue looking after our horses as long we maintain social distancing boundaries and avoid being on the yard at the same time as others from different households.

Do you know who would look after your horse if you fell ill or had to self-isolate? Some of you may already be unable to see your horses due to new rules implemented by yard owners, but if you are still the primary care giver to you horse the points below are worth considering.

It’s worth having a think about who would be able to help you and your horse. You might already be alternating trips to the yard with other liveries and looking after each other’s horses either side of the day, in which case they may be able to step in if you were unable to visit the yard. This works well as they will already know their way around the yard, what your horse has to eat, where his rugs are etc.

The number one option here, if you keep your horse at a livery yard, may be to place your horse on full livery, if this is a financially viable option for you. Transferring responsibility for the care of your horse to your yard owner for this time might be the smoothest transition for your horse and will cause minimal disruption to his care and routine. But, at a time where there is so much uncertainty, many people are struggling to maintain their typical monthly outgoings, so increasing the cost of your horse’s livery bill may be out of the question. Similarly, if you have multiple horses or are not on a livery yard, this is not an option for you.

This is where friends and family come in. If you have your own yard, or feel there is someone else you’d prefer to ask to help, have a plan written and ready to go in case they need to step in at short notice.

Your plan should include:

-          How to find their way around the yard – If the person who will be looking after your horse isn’t familiar with the yard, include a map to show which stable is your horse’s and which field is his too if turnout is on the cards.

-          Details of what your horse is fed. They may be having less than normal if their workload has been reduced, but make sure whoever is looking after your horse(s) that they know exactly who has what, what quantities and where to find it. You might know the difference between your conditioning cubes and pony nuts but not everyone will.

-          Rugs – include which rugs belong to which horse and where to find the rest of them if the weather changes

-          Let them know where you keep your grooming kit too, including a good hoof pick, so they can give your horse some TLC whilst you’re unable to.

-          Lastly, you may have your own set of yard keys for various gates or storage containers or you may have memorised the combination for you padlocks. Make sure whoever is looking after your horse has these keys or codes so that they can access everything they need on the yard. If they need to come to your house to pick up the keys, you should maintain the appropriate social distancing measures. Currently, government advice is that you should remain 2m apart at all times (2nd April 2020).

Something else to consider at the present time would be Public Liability insurance. If your horse causes damage to a third party, whether to them directly or to their property, you as the horse’s owner can be found liable even if someone else was looking after him at the time. For example, your horse may get out of the field onto a road and cause an accident. Even if a friend had turned him out that morning, you as the owner can be found responsible.

There are lots of different ways to insure for Public Liability cover. If you have already chosen to include it on your horse insurance policy with KBIS, this automatically includes cover for anyone handling your horse, as long as they have your permission to do so and they aren’t being paid to help you with your horse. This would technically make them a professional, and if you are paying for a service the person you pay should have their own insurance in place for such eventualities. The cost of adding Public Liability cover to your horse insurance policy is relatively small. £1 million costs just £16.80 for the year, £2 million is an additional £22.40 for the year and £3 million works out as £28.00 for the year.

Standalone Public Liability cover for your horse(s) is also an option, so your horse does not have to be insured for anything alongside this cover. To include authorised users (so any friends or family that are likely to help if you needed them) premiums start at £70.56.

You may think you have Public Liability cover with an organisation or membership. Just have a look at this closely and make sure this doesn’t limit cover to when you are attending an event or clinic held by that organisation. Make sure that it also covers people to help with your horse as long as they have your permission to do so.

Information within this article is based on government advice as of 2nd April 2020. The government advice is regularly changing, keep up to date here.