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Coronavirus – How it affects equestrians

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It is without question that these are unprecedented times for the whole of society, not to mention the equestrian community. It is increasingly difficult to get clear guidelines when the situation is constantly evolving and changing. So many equestrians are left with questions regarding what we can or can’t do with our horses during the Coronavirus pandemic. Here at Horse Scout, the CEO Lucienne Elms and all the team will endeavour to keep you as updated as possible with this ever-changing series of events.

 

On the 18th March, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) called to cease all organised equestrian activity which is now more important then ever with the latest government measures to cease all bar essential travel, moving livery yards, taking your horses schooling or to clinics is NOT essential travel, however transporting to the vets for emergency care is allowed.

 

As most will already be aware following recent government advice, British Dressage, British Show Jumping and British Eventing have taken the responsible action to reduce the risk of the virus spreading by cancelling all competitions. This will be for a four week period to begin with however, this will of course be monitored and possibly prolonged if needs be. It is vital that the equestrian community takes the necessary precautions to protect both themselves and others.

 

Following the Government directive last night (Monday 23rd March – 8.30pm) to cease all bar essential travel, the British Horse Society released the following statement this morning (Tuesday 24th March):

“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 the BHS advises that 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).

We are getting a lot of questions in relation to riding your horse, for which there are no specific government guidelines at present. We advise that it is not appropriate to put unnecessary pressure on the emergency services and everyone should make their own individual decision as to whether riding is necessary at this time.

The health and welfare of your horse is your priority. If you have any concerns please contact your vet, yard manager or the BHS and we will do our best to assist you.”

 

Current advice for horse owners.

If you have your horse on DIY livery, you are essentially renting a stable and field from the yard, you are therefore the sole care provider for the animal and can visit the yard to care for him as you would do normally whilst ensuring social distancing and good hygiene. It is possible that if the pandemic develops, some larger yards may provide a rota of allocated time slots for individuals to go up and care for their horses to minimise contact. It is important for yards to keep owners updated with what restrictions they will have in place and it is crucial that owners respect their yards protocol.

 

It is also advised that owners have a back-up plan in place should they be unable to attend their horse for some reason. These measures would include, writing a care plan for each horse so that others would know exactly how to care for your horse in your absence, ensure that you have sufficient supplies in the sense of feed, bedding etc (without panic buying) and keeping in touch with other liveries and yard owners.

 

Download a copy of the Horse Scout Emergency Horse Care Notes here.

 

For full and part livery owners, it may well be that your yard is temporarily closed to ensure minimal contact. In this instance, the grooms will be the horses primary carers, please do respect that this may well be an increasingly busy and stressful time for them. Protocol for individual yards may vary so regular communication between yard and owners is very important at this time.

 

Should you be riding? 

There are currently no specific guidelines regarding whether you should be riding your horse, but both the BHS and the British Equestrian Federation have advised for you to take the relevant care should you decide to ride at this time. It may be that you avoid riding a fresh youngster, avoid hacking on busy roads, or any activities that may increase the risk of you injuring yourself. It is vital that we support our NHS at this time and follow the BEF advice by not participating in any organised activity including traveling your horse for lessons or schooling, having a coach to your yard, having a lesson at a riding centre and riding in large groups. Please do remember that this is only a temporary measure, if we are more careful now it will benefit us and the wider community in the long-term.

 

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Current advice for yards / grooms / freelancers.

Employers and yard owners have a duty of care to their staff and liveries, it is important to encourage all staff and owners to follow the governments advice regarding biosecurity. It is advisable to have sufficient access to hand washing facilities and where possible, supply hand sanitiser on the premises, posters are available online to display around the yard to encourage hand washing.

 

It is important to come up with a contingency plan should any member of staff need to self-isolate, this may include looking into freelance cover or training other staff members to be able to cover others work. Should a member of staff become ill / need to self-isolate, the government has announced that it will fund two weeks statutory sick pay. Boris Johnson has announced measures to help those who have been financially impacted by the virus. View the latest government advice here.

 

The Equestrian Employers Association has released some helpful advice which can be found using the following link – https://equestrianemployers.org.uk/news/433/advice-for-employers-on-coronavirus.

 

There is no doubt this is a worrying time for freelancers due to not being entitled to Statutory Sick pay but there may be an increasing amount of work available from yards with staff off work due to the virus. Horse Scout recommend the use of the networking side of the website to reach out to local yards near yourself on the Horse Scout yards page to let them know that you are available to help should they need it. Equally, if you haven’t already, it may be useful to create a freelance groom profile for free on Horsescout.com so that yard owners are able to find you.

 

The government have released measures to help ease financial pressures for freelancers including the possibility for Universal credit and help if you can’t pay your Tax bill. Further help regarding this can be found on the official government site here.

 

Helpful Links:

Gov.uk: COVID-19: support for businesses

GOV.UK: COVID-19: guidance for employees

HM Treasury: How to access government financial support if you or your business has been affected by COVID-19

National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses

 

We hope that by providing you with as much relevant information as possible, you can feel assured to take the necessary precautions during this pandemic.

 

Most importantly stay safe.

 

 

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Horse Scout supports ‘Polo for Life Charity’.

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After Horse Scout CEO Lucienne Elms took to Field One at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in support of the charity ‘Polo for Life’, Ellie Kelly caught up with Lucienne to find out how Horse Scout’s involvement with the charity came about.

 

What made you choose Polo for Life Organisation to support for 2020?


I recently spent time with friends and families who had or had been impacted by cancer.  Sadly it seems we all know someone, scarily frequent. That feeling of helplessness is unbearable. But it spurred me on to help in anyway I could via the Horse Scout network. Polo for Life is a non profit organisation, dedicated to raising funds to support cancer research and treatment for paediatric cancers. Which for me feels one of the cruellest things, to see young children suffering.

 

I myself had a challenging time in 2018 off the back of a car crash that arguably should have killed me, I broke twenty eight bones and punctured my lungs but was fortunate enough to have great surgeons and the Injured Jockeys rehabilitation centre UK to get back to health. I can remember always thinking however painful at least with those injuries I had a level of control. I remained grateful it wasn’t worse and optimistic that with time, patience and hard work with the rehab I would get better, and close to normal. Unlike the vast majority of those touched by cancer. Trauma is one thing, disease is quite another.

 

Furthermore, inflict disease on a child’s life and it really is something quite harrowing for all concerned. To give perspective on Monday afternoon at the event we had a young girl, she was under five years and had undergone numerous chemotherapy treatments already in her life. Her mum was a single mother with two other children to look after. I recognised how much the Polo for Life organisation had helped them.

 

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Who is the brainchild behind this all?

 

The professional polo player and charity co founder Brandon Phillips is a childhood non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. He is an inspiration both in person and on the field, backed by co Founder Terrie Mooney they really deserve all the help we can offer.

 

You are better known as an event rider, how did you feel playing switching sports to Polo?


At the end of the day I have ridden for a long time, in fact before I could walk! So I feel at home on a horse, although I probably look as stiff as the polo mallet because I have so much titanium holding me together since the accident! I thought “what’s a little public humiliation of missing a polo ball a few times, if it’s helping these children and their families?”.

 

Needless to say, I only contributed one goal, but I intend to play again next year. Not only do I hope to play more of a competitive part in the match 2021 but the real objective is that Horse Scout can help raise awareness and make a significant contribution to the Polo for Life charity.

 

What has also been really exciting is the rise of women in polo. I for one have been bitten by the bug. It has been a welcome contrast to the office and the intensity of my three day eventing ambitions.

 

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B is for Bigger, Better, Barbury

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Chris BurtonImage by Benjamin Clarke Photography

If you want to see eventing at it’s finest and fancy a cheeky preview of many of the horse and rider combinations likely to be heading to the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina this September, then head to the St James’s Place Barbury Horse Trials ( 5-8th July).

 

Barbury has undoubtedly become one of the premier international events of the equestrian calendar. It attracts the leading professional riders as well as the amateurs at the top of their game, so has never been short of thrilling action. With around 1000 horses to see this year, from one of the best spectator-viewing spots around, you certainly won’t be bored.

 

The four day event runs more international horses than any other UK event. Who come from all over the UK and even the world, to contest the ultimate cross-country challenge set by Captain Mark Phillips. He also designs Burghley, Gatcombe and Lexington. This year offers a CIC3* class as well as the fourth leg of the Event Rider Masters Series (ERM) plus sections of CIC2*, a final Pony Trial for the European Championships and seven Novice sections. Even the Novice sections include the best of the best at that level and with the Dubarry Burghley Young Event Horse classes staged on Thursday; this really is a chance to see the stars of tomorrow as well as today.

 

Don’t quote us on this but Barbury has often been used as an “unofficial trial” for major Championships like WEG and the Olympics and this year is expected to be the same. It’s not just the British riders under the spotlight either. With a significant number of foreign eventers based over here, don’t be surprised you are in the midst of team selectors from several nations.

 

The entries list has an eye-popping number of medal and 4* winning riders and the World number one and two- Horse Scout Advocate Oliver Townend and Gemma Tattersall. Then there is Andrew Nicholson, certainly the most successful Barbury rider of all time, having won the CIC3* consecutively, five times from 2012 to 2016. Other gifted Antipodeans in the line-up include Badminton babe Jonelle Price and her husband Tim plus Sir Mark Todd, last year’s Burghley winner, Chris Burton and Blyth Tait- who has also designed this year’s Novice course. The Brits include European Champion Nicola Wilson on her gold medal-winning mare Bulana, Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt and Horse Scout advocate Emily King. Plus our very own CEO, Lucienne Elms is taking a rare day off to compete her 3* horse, Mistralou who she is aiming to take 4* next year.

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The Barbury nightlife is as good as any at an event. With parties on Friday and Saturday, you may find it hard to leave, especially after you have seen your eventing heroes pulling their moves on the dance floor. From personal experience, I can reassure you that in most cases- their talents lie elsewhere.

 

This year, changes have been made to the event layout, to give a better experience both for the riders and spectators. The final decision on this was made after the Organisers sought feedback from the riders on to improve the event. Which is very positive news, given that the Barbury Estate was sold to new owners last year and some were in doubt that the event would continue to run. The event is now “owned” by ERM, so we can be confident that Barbury Horse Trials, is here to stay.

 

Arena attractions include The JCB Champions’ Challenge on Saturday, all in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund. This is where top National Hunt Jockeys, including Champion Jockey, Richard Johnson and Sam Twiston-Davies, take on eventers Mark Todd, Jonelle and Tim Price and Lissa Green, in a relay show jumping competition.

 

Furthermore, there will be no need to feel guilty about dragging the family along. There is a “Kidzone” with a mini-zoo and real life meerkats; a dog show and dog agility masterclass with a World Champion agility competitor. Of course there is also tonnes of shopping and some great British nosh. So bring deep pockets and empty stomachs.

… But In the words of Baz Lurhmann, don’t forget to wear Sunscreen.

 

To buy tickets and for more information, visit www.barburyhorsetrials.co.uk

Written by Ellie Kelly

Cover Image by Adam Dale