COVID-19: Impact on United Kingdom Horse Owners
Hartpury University, Gloucester GL19 3BE, UK
School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Wagga Wagga Campus, Charles Sturt University, North Wagga Wagga NSW 2650, Australia
David Marlin Consulting, P.O. BOX 187, Cambridge CB4 0WZ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 September 2020 / Revised: 6 October 2020 / Accepted: 8 October 2020 / Published: 13 October 2020
On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic and an ongoing public health emergency. In the United Kingdom, quarantine and social distancing measures were implemented with immediate effect on 17 March 2020, resulting in a rapid change to the way owners managed and interacted with their horses. We surveyed 6259 horse owners to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on themselves and their horses. The majority of horse owners were visiting and riding their horses less, with increased restrictions experienced by owners who kept their horse at private livery yards. Whilst social distancing and visiting restrictions were in place at livery yards, nearly half were not providing hand sanitization or disinfection protocols for shared areas/equipment to prevent the spread of the virus between owners. Horse owners expressed concern that equine health and welfare would be negatively affected by the restrictions put in place and of financial consequences as a result of the pandemic. The majority of respondents also felt their own mental health and wellbeing was being adversely affected by not being able to visit/interact as they normally would with their horses. Equestrian influencers and national bodies should engage with increased communication and education to support horse owners through the pandemic in the short, medium, and long-term.