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Article

COVID-19: Impact on United Kingdom Horse Owners

1
Hartpury University, Gloucester GL19 3BE, UK
2
School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Wagga Wagga Campus, Charles Sturt University, North Wagga Wagga NSW 2650, Australia
3
David Marlin Consulting, P.O. BOX 187, Cambridge CB4 0WZ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1862; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101862
Received: 14 September 2020 / Revised: 6 October 2020 / Accepted: 8 October 2020 / Published: 13 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of COVID-19 on Animal Management and Welfare)
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.
COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic on 11 March 2020; the United Kingdom (UK) implemented quarantine measures shortly afterward, resulting in rapid changes in how owners managed and interacted with their horses. This study provides a rapid analysis of the initial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the management of UK leisure and competition horses. A 17 question online survey was distributed via equestrian social media sites to ascertain the impact of COVID-19 on horse and yard management and on human–horse interactions. Frequency analysis combined with Chi-squared and thematic analyses identified the impact of COVID-19 on UK horse owners. Major changes within horse management and horse–human interactions were reported for the majority of horse owners (>65%), regardless of the establishment type or region. Social distancing and visiting restrictions were implemented at most yards, but nearly half were not providing hand sanitization or disinfection protocols for the shared areas/equipment to prevent cross-contamination between users. The financial impact of the pandemic combined with restricted access to veterinary professionals resulted in owners expressing concerns that horse health and welfare may be compromised as a result. Horse owners also felt that the reduced opportunities for horse–human interactions were negatively affecting their mental health and wellbeing. View Full-Text
Keywords: coronavirus; equine welfare; equine management; horse–human relationship coronavirus; equine welfare; equine management; horse–human relationship
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MDPI and ACS Style

Williams, J.M.; Randle, H.; Marlin, D. COVID-19: Impact on United Kingdom Horse Owners. Animals 2020, 10, 1862. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101862

AMA Style

Williams JM, Randle H, Marlin D. COVID-19: Impact on United Kingdom Horse Owners. Animals. 2020; 10(10):1862. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101862

Chicago/Turabian Style

Williams, Jane M., Hayley Randle, and David Marlin. 2020. "COVID-19: Impact on United Kingdom Horse Owners" Animals 10, no. 10: 1862. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101862

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