With the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, information and advice from Government can change quickly. For all the latest Government information on COVID-19 and the measures the Government, and Devolved Governments, are taking, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website.
Leisure businesses will receive new Lockdown grants to help them keep afloat until Spring, chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced on 5th January (this includes riding schools).
The one-off top-ups will be granted to closed businesses as follows:
£4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
£6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
£9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000
These new grants are in addition to the already existing grants worth up to £3,000 for closed businesses, and up to £2,100 per month for impacted businesses once they reopen.
The government has also provided 100% business rates relief for leisure businesses, £1.1 billion existing discretionary funding for Local Authorities, the furlough scheme now extended to April and 100% government backed loans, extended until March.
The one-off top up grants state that they apply to closed businesses.
But how does this apply to a yard that is partially closed for lessons or school hire, but for example, open for liveries to care for and ride their horses?
We asked this question to the FSB and were advised: "The answer is the £594m discretionary fund. Your local authority will get a pot of £ through a formula, and then they can spend it as they wish - but it’s intended for those affected but not closed.
In the Tier funding, a pub was closed for core business, but could still sell take away pints - but as it was closed for core business, it could access the funding."
So our advice is to lobby your local authority ASAP as they will have huge scope to spend it as they wish, deciding on how much £ per bid, what businesses to support. If you can prove a loss of income due to Coronavirus - it is worth a try.
As we are easing out of lockdown all of the home nations have adopted a slightly different roadmap so make sure that you check with your own countries restrictions as well as reading the below.
As the Professional Association for those that employ grooms and work with horses, we have reviewed the guidance documents, which in some parts is very clear and in some not.
CAN Grooms Go TO WORK?
Yes. Grooms can go to work as they are not able to 'work from home'.
Freelancers can continue to operate and provide services, as they also can not work from home (this includes riding client's horses).
All should adhere to strict social distancing measures and enhanced biosecurity guidelines at all times.
CAN I Furlough staff?
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended to September 2021 with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.
Employers can operate either a flexible furlough (whereby the employee works reduced hours and is furloughed for hours not worked) or a full furlough (whereby the employee does not work throughout the furlough period).
The employer will be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions.
WHAT ARE RULES REGARDING RIDING?
Outdoor exercise (individual or with members of their household or support bubble, or one other person who is not a member of their household) is permitted in a public outdoor place.
Hacking is permitted and for horse welfare reasons in the facility (arena) at where the horse is kept. (i.e. arena hire is not permitted)
We would advise taking extra measures to ensure this remains as safe as possible.
ENGLAND ROAD MAP
FROM 29 MARCH Six people or two households can meet outdoors Outdoor sports facilities can open and organised sport allowed Travel outside local area allowed This indicates that organised competition, training and activity can resume from this date onwards. All equestrian centres and riding schools will be allowed to re-open, with arena hire also permitted.
FROM 12 APRIL Non-essential retail can open Outdoor hospitality is permitted Self-contained accommodation hire permitted Overnight stays for competition or training purposes would be permitted at this stage.
FROM 17 MAY Many social contact restrictions lifted outdoors Six people or two households can meet indoors Indoor hospitality and hotels can open Spectators will once again be permitted at shows, albeit with limited numbers, and restrictions on international travel could be lifted.
FROM 21 JUNE All legal limits on social contact removed
ARE COMPETITIONS AND ORGANISED TRAINING PERMITTED?
Please see each countries road map for the restarting of all competitions and hiring of equestrian facilities.
SCOTLAND ROAD MAP
Outdoor non contact sport and organised activity is permitted for groups of up to 15 people which has opened up the opportunity to take part in equestrian training and sport, within your local authority.
Four people from two households can meet in an outdoor setting 12–17-year-olds can meet outdoors in groups of four, with no limit on household numbers Outdoor non-contact sports and organised exercise is permitted for groups of up to 15 people (up to 30 for under 12s) There is still a requirement for adults to stay within their local authority boundary for exercise and organised activity, while those aged 12–17 may cross into other areas. Sportscotland and horsescotland advice also indicates that anyone may travel up to five miles into a neighbouring local authority area for informal activity such as hacking or facility hire without a coach.
FROM 5 APRIL Stay at home restriction removed All children to return to school Communal worship can restart with restricted numbers of 20 Six people from two households can meet together Easing of restrictions on indoor household gatherings Further essential retail can begin to re-open
FROM 26 APRIL All of Scotland return to Level system of restrictions Phased return of non-essential retail Some hospitality, leisure venues and gyms can re-open
However, the First Minister has said that these changes will be based on scientific data and meeting certain requirement, so are provisional at this stage.
For further information about how these restrictions impact equestrian activity in Scotland, please visit the Guidance for Scotland page on the BEF Coronavirus Hub.
From Saturday 13 March, restrictions were lowered in Wales, with the message moving from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay local’, where possible.
The guidance for local travel is to stay within five miles of home, although those living in more remote rural areas can travel further for reasonable journeys.
Outdoor sports facilities have reopened, with a maximum of four people from two households permitted to take part in activities using local facilities at any one time. Equestrian venues can open for hire and activity on this basis, provided that they operate within the meeting number and travel restrictions.
FROM 27 MARCH The ‘stay local’ restrictions will be lifted to allow people to travel within Wales Self-contained holiday accommodation will re-open for one household Organised outdoor children’s activities will restart
These restrictions are currently set to be reviewed on 1 April.
For further information about how these restrictions impact equestrian activity in Wales, please visit the Guidance for Wales page on the BEF Coronavirus Hub.
Download EEA Critical Worker Statement
Use this statement from the EEA to evidence the need for your child to be accepted as one of aCritical Worker. (Available to EEA Members only)
Coronavirus Staff policy
What would you do if a member of your staff announced that they had been at a party last weekend and ignored the rules on social distancing/face coverings; and subsequently a positive Covid-19 case had been reported from the other party attendees?
By having your own Coronavirus Staff Policy, you will take control of the rules and procedures for your staff surrounding the Pandemic.
Create your own Coronavirus Staff Policy with this template.
Coronavirus is with us for sometime and it is important that you provide a safe working environment for your team.
Here some of your questions will be answered and also advice if you are coming out of a local lockdown.
You must consider how operating your business can be done safely to protect your staff, yourself, your clients and your family if they also live on site.
It is YOUR responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe. If your workers feel that the yard has not taken steps to be coronavirus safe, they have a right to not work until the correct measures are put in place.
You may have made no changes at all during the first lockdown, as in it has been business as usual, however these following steps are still relevant:
Adhere to the Government's rules on social distancing and washing hands.
Stagger staff lunch breaks and where possible provide an outside rest area. Communicate to clients that all communal areas are for employees only.
Consider ways to make the toilet facilities as safe as possible with strict biosecurity measures in place.
Everyone needs to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19. As an employer, you also have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk ofCOVID-19.
A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to.
The BHS have also given some helpful advice on writing risk assessments.
Arrange a meeting with your staff to allow them to voice any concernsthey may have on either the restrictions of a lockdown being lifted, and/or additional individuals attending the yard.
Yard equipment really must if possible not be shared. If it is eg. wheelbarrows, ensure that it is disinfected after person 1 use. At the end of each working day, a thorough clean of all equipment, communal areas and door handles and locks should happen.
Insist the clients use their own grooming kits and each worker has their own grooming kit which is not shared - this especially important for freelancers.
Write a yard protocol on biosecurity and social distancing and communicate this to employees, clients and anyone visiting your yard.
When tack is being used by more than one person, it must be cleaned after use by person 1 using an appropriate disinfectant (either in the water, wipe or spray) before saddle soaping.
Consider clients not entering the tack room and instead staff placing the equipment outside the stable ahead of their allocated time slot. Staff should wash their hands before and after touching the tack and wear a face covering when inside.
To reduce the number of people on yard at any one time, create allocated time slots for clients and maintain segregation of workers.
Complete the ABRS Certificated E-Learning Course on Safe Working Practices whilst Exiting Lockdown
The online course is designed for equestrian centre owners and their staff to ensure that they are fully prepared and feel confident in the transition phase and takes just 15 minutes to complete and is free - just email firstname.lastname@example.org including the name and email address of each participant to take part.
Is sharing equipment safe
No - you must adhere at all times to the same levels of handwashing and biosecurity as at the peak of the virus.
First aid Considerations
It is important to consider how to support and protect first aiders with the current risks associated to COVID-19.
All employers are able to access the scheme as long as they have a PAYE scheme in operation from 30th October 2020.
Employees will receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.
Employers can operate either a flexible furlough (whereby the employee works reduced hours and is furloughed for hours not worked) or a full furlough (whereby the employee does not work throughout the furlough period).
The employer will be asked to cover National Insurance and employer pension contributions.
The furlough bonus scheme (£1k per employee in January 2021) has been paused.
Carrying over annual leave
The Working Time Regulations have been amended to allow for carry-over of annual leave that has not been taken due to COVID-19.
This rule only applies to the 4 weeks of statutory annual leave (or the worker’s pro-rata entitlement) that is derived from theEU Working Time Directive. It does not apply to the additional 1.6 weeks’ statutory leave that workers are entitled to under domestic law, or any additional leave they may be entitled to in accordance with their contracts.
These 4 weeks of leave can only be carried-over where it was ‘not reasonably practicable’ for a worker to take some or all of this leave in the leave year in which it is due, because of the ‘effects’ of COVID-19. We are told that these ‘effects’ include effects on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society.
No guidance has been provided as to what is “not reasonably practicable”. This is likely to be fact-sensitive for each worker. Presumably the ability to take leave must be genuinely and significantly affected by COVID-19.
Such carried-over leave may be taken in the 2 leave years immediately following the leave year in which it was due. Should the worker’s employment be terminated before they take this carried-forward leave they can receive a payment in lieu for it.
Taking annual leave during furlough
Can I insist that my furloughed staff take their Annual Leave before returning back to work? And is it correct I must pay them 100% for this time off?
Employers may insist on employees taking leave, but they must give twice as much notice as the leave being taken. During this time, holiday pay must be normal pay – not the 80% furloughed pay.
Reducing employees hours
Can I significantly reduce the hours of my employees?
Furlough is all or nothing, you can not furlough staff and then ask them to work a few hours or volunteer. If reduced hours are wanted then short time working is the way forward.
WHAT IS SHORT TIME-WORKING? This is where an employer reduces the hours the employee is required to work by reducing the number of working days and/or hours the employee works in a day. The employee’s wages are reduced accordingly.
CAN EMPLOYERS IMPOSE SHORT-TIME WORKING Employers can only impose short-time working where there is a contractual right to do so, for example, in the contract of employment, a collective agreement, or possibly through custom and practice. Flexibility as to how hours are reduced, how long the arrangements can last, who is selected, and so on, may depend on how the contractual provisions are drafted.
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT IS NOT IN THE CONTRACT OR THERE HASN'T BEEN A CONTRACT ISSUED The employer should present its proposal to the relevant employees, or their representatives, explaining why it considers that short-time working is necessary with a view to seeking their consent. Many redundancy policies will provide for the employer to consider short-time working before carrying out any compulsory redundancies and this may help in getting employee buy in.
WHAT HAPPENS IF MY EMPLOYEE REFUSES If the employee refuses, the employer will have to consider alternatives. These may include compulsory redundancy (although this will only apply if there is a reduced requirement for people to carry out the work for which the employee(s) is/were hired), putting the employee on furlough, or dismissal on the grounds of some other substantial reason. This is a complex area, however, and so further advice should be sought.
HOW SHOULD AN EMPLOYER IMPLEMENT SHORT-TIME WORKING Even when an employer has the right to impose short-time working, if it is not exercised regularly, the situation should be handled sensitively. As employee pay will be reduced, it is sensible to communicate with the workforce and explain the company’s thinking behind the reduction in hours, to encourage employees to be “on side”. If the reduction is to reduce or avoid redundancies, employees are likely to be more amenable to short-time working.
WHAT IF AN EMPLOYER IMPOSES SHORT-TIME WORKING UNILATERALLY In these circumstances, the employees could bring a number of claims. These could include claims for unlawful deduction from wages, unfair dismissal, breach of contract, redundancy payments (see below) and protective awards. This is a high-risk approach. Be guided by your knowledge of your own workforce in gauging how they might react.
HOW SHOULD EMPLOYERS SELECT EMPLOYEES FOR SHORT-TERM WORKING If a whole section of the workforce will be affected, selection will be straightforward. If the short-time working pattern requires that you select particular employees, care should be taken to avoid any discriminatory or unfair selection process.
ARE EMPLOYEES ENTITLED TO BE PAID DURING SHORT-TIME WORKING Yes they are working on amended hours, they will be paid at the pro rata rate. Discuss this further with your accountant or payroll provider.
WHAT STEPS SHOULD EMPLOYERS TAKE Check you have a contractual right to impose short-time working? Work out proposed new working patterns and selection criteria Beware of inadvertently triggering redundancy payments Communicate constructively with employees Use the correct letter template to give to your employee(s)
Compulsory short term working template
Use this version if there is a contractual right to put the employee on short-term working. If you have used the EEA Contract Creator then this is for you, as our version provides you with the right.
Short term working template
Use this version if there is not a contractual right to put the employee on short-term working. (you have not issued a written statement of terms of employment/written contract or have a version which does not have this clause)
Terminating staff contracts at end of furlough
At the end of the furlough scheme I have decided that I do not need as many staff to return. Do I simply give them notice as per in their contract? (if less than 2 years’ service)
Yes if less than 2 years service. Ensure that you issue the notice letter whilst the employee is still on furlough and not at the end.
If more than 2 years’ service, on what grounds am I making them redundant ?
The requirement for work of this particular kind has ceased or diminished. Use the EEA guidance on redundancy.
Reducing the hours in the contract
If I wish for my employee to return back to work but on reduced hours – do I need to supply them with a new contract? And what happens if they refuse to accept these new terms? Victoria Von Wachter from 5 Essex Court advises:
The general rule is ‘no variation without consideration’ - consideration usually being money – a sweetener. If they refuse, you can either make them redundant or dismiss for ‘some other substantial reason’ – business efficiency.
All employers have a duty of care to ensure that the place of work is safe. This includes providing tissues, adequate antibacterial hand wash and hand sanitiser andinsisting on regular hand washing.
Also to ensure that high risk individuals, such as those with any underlying medial conditions or pregnant ladies are given priority.
If you are unaware of the symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the NHS has a comprehensive guide. If you, or a member of your team, are feeling unwell, please call 111 for advice (do not visit your local GP). The NHS have issuedguidelines for self-isolating.
Legal obligations regarding sick pay
For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the Government have announced that they will fund SSP for two weeks of employees and it can be paid immediately (ie no waiting days).
Sick pay can be paid also to those that are self isolating.
If an employee refuses to work, can i make them
Working from home is impossible with horses, and they still need to be cared for. If the employee suspects that they have been infected then they must be tested and isolated.
If they have merely come into contact with someone who is infected then, again they must be tested. Employees cannot stay at home, just because they feel like it.
My staff live on site
If your team all live onsite and are not in contact with anyone else then they are in a low risk category.
This risk significantly increases when people visit the yard, such as an owner, client, farrier, vet, or the team go off site.
To minimise the risk nominate one person to shop for everyone and ensure they adhere to all of the recommended biosecurity measures, or arrange for online shopping to be dropped off.
Ensure that thorough cleaning takes place in communal areas such as shared kitchens and bathrooms and that where possible social distancing is still adhered too.
Legally you can not prevent anyone from seeing their friends and family during this time, but ask employees to be mindful and ensure that anyone they are visiting is also adhering to strict biosecurity measures and self isolating where required.
My employee needs to self isolate
If I have an employee that refuses to return to work because they have a parent or family membership shielding in their house they live in, can I terminate their contract of employment?
If the employee works as part of a larger team then they must self isolate as per Government recommendations (7 days for direct contact, 14 days for indirect contact).
If your employee is the primary carer for the horses then as long as they are showing no symptoms they are allowed to work, but limit any outside contact from liveries / clients etc – essentially self isolating them with your horses. Ensure that all biosecurity measures are in place and that any supplies such as shopping / horse feed is dropped off to the yard and left by a nominated person to avoid any direct contact.
By terminating the contract of employment you risk creating a claim for automatically unfair dismissal if you terminate because someone in this situation is refusing to attend work.
If an employee is self-isolating, do I still have to pay them their full salary? Depends on what is in the contract – if there is a sick pay scheme then pay accordingly to that. Otherwise SSP is payable under the new SSP Regs for coronavirus.
Employees that are on a benefit (Working Tax Credit, Income Support etc.) will be eligible for a £500 Government grant if they have to self isolate.
This support is available for those who are registered as self employed with HMRC and have submitted 2019 accounts.
Income tax payments due in July can be deferred to the end of Jan 2021 and is also possible to be paid via 'Time to Pay' across 2021 with no interest added.
The employment status of grooms is critical in determining what government support is available at this challenging time.
If one has been told by an employer that they are ‘self-employed’, yet havenotregistered themselves as such with HMRC, sadly that individual will not be eligible for this self employed package NOR government support for the employed that are not required or unable to work i.e furlough.
The government have announced an extension to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme across the UK. Two further grants have been made available, each covering a three-month period – 1 November 2020 to 31 January 2021, and 1 February to 31 April 2021.
Subject to meeting eligibility criteria, applicants will receive a single taxable grant worth 80% of the average profits they would make over a three-month period, up to a total of £7,500, paid directly into their bank accounts.
To be eligible for the grant extension, you must:
have previously been eligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme – although did not necessarily claimed previous grants
declare that you intend to keep trading
are currently actively trading but have been impacted by reduced demand due to COVID-19, or were previously trading but are currently unable to do so due to the virus.
The online service for claiming the next grant will be available from 30 November. Further details are availablehere.
How do I access it
HMRC have created an online tool to find out if you’re eligible to make a claim through the self-employed income support scheme. You’ll need your Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number and your National Insurance number. Check if you are eligible: https://bit.ly/2WyBKsi
If eligible, HMRC will contact you with an online form, they pay the grant straight to your bank account.
I am employed and self employed
I am registered both employed and self-employed, which Government support applies to me?
This scheme is only open to those who make a majority of their income from self-employment.
Do i have to be registered with the HMRC
Yes you do.
If you are not registered as self employed with HMRC then you do not qualify for this support. We recommend that you look at applying for Universal Credit.
I have told My groom that they are self employed
You can’t tell someone they are self employed. This is illegal and false employment.
To self-employed they will be registered with HMRC, submit their own tax return, set their own hours, work for more than one person and issue you with an invoice for any work carried out.
If you have told them that they are self employed and they have not registered with HMRC unfortunately they will only qualify for Universal Credit and not be eligible for the self employed package or employed support (furloughing) from the government.
SPORT WALES SPORT FREELANCER FUND
Sport Wales has announced the launch of a fund designed to help freelancers in the field of sport and physical activity to recoup some of the financial losses they have suffered as a result of COVID-19.
The fund is open to applications from freelancers in Wales who have worked directly with participants – such as coaches – since before March 2020, and who have lost out on income due to the pandemic.
Subject to meeting eligibility requirements, they’ll receive £1,500 to recuperate their loss in earnings.
Applications open at 12pm on Thursday 26 November and close at 5pm on Wednesday 9 December. Further details are availablehere.
Cash Flow Issues
At this time cash flow is crucial to keeping your business alive. The Government has put in place a variety of schemes to support you.
The BEF have had confirmation from the Sport and Recreation Alliance that riding schools, livery yards and competition centres fall under the umbrella of those businesses considered to be ‘for assembly and leisure’ – provided they are normally open to the public – and as such are eligible for the help currently on offer from the Government.
TIER 2/3/4 GRANTS
On the 22nd October the Chancellor announced that he was introducing new grants for businesses impacted by Tier 2/3/4 restrictions, even if they aren’t legally closed. Funding is available for every business in hospitality, leisure & accommodation - a grant worth up to £2,100 every month Tier2/3/4 restrictions apply.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance have informed us that " if equestrian centres are able to demonstrate that they are adversely impacted by the Tier 2/3/4 restrictions then they should be eligible".
In England The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.
For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a taxable grant of £10,000.
For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a taxable grant of £25,000.
Businesses based in England, in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector are eligible.
For those eligible for Small Business Rate Relief The Government is providing additional funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.
The BEF have had confirmation from the Sport and Recreation Alliance that riding schools, livery yards and competition centres fall under the umbrella of those businesses considered to be ‘for assembly and leisure’ – provided they are normally open to the public – and as such are eligible for the help currently on offer from the Government:
You do not need to take any action, if you are eligible for the grant you will be contacted by your local authority. If you are unsure who your local authority is, you can check via the Governments Find your local counciltool.
In Scotland Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and up to and including £51,000 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. A one-off grant of £10,000 will also be available to small businesses who get Small Business Bonus Scheme Relief Rural Relief. In Wales
£25,000 grant for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000
Small firms eligible for Small Business Rates relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will receive a £10,000 grant.
A business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England has been introduced for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.
You are eligible for the business rates holiday if your business is based in England and your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector.
This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020 and you do not need to take any action. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge.
VAT has been deferred for the next quarter (these payments can now be paid at the end of the financial year)
This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.
Confirming with lenders to provide mortgage payment holidays of at least 3 months for those facing finance issues as a result of coronavirus.
HMRC TIME TO PAY
HMRC have scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of COVID-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. If you think you or your business is eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call the following helpline number to get practical help and advice on 0800 0159 559.
Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. For more information, please check the HMRC site here
livery yard owners and managers
The BEF advises
Keep clients visits to a minimum without compromising their horse’s welfare
Change into clean yard clothes
Washing hands with soap and warm water before leaving the house
Sensible things to put in place
Other considerations maybe:
Do not allow the sharing of equipment such as yard tools/grooming kits etc. If this is unavoidable then make sure that all tools are disinfected between use.
Set up staggered time slots for clients to come and go, making sure that they only carry out what’s necessary to ensure their horse’s welfare and wellbeing.
Prioritise the vulnerable and those who work in the NHS in the time slots.
Have a no socialising rule between liveries on the yard, for example the tack room – instead encourage them to use a different platform to chat online and encourage virtual interaction.
If it is unavoidable for liveries to come into contact with others make sure they respect and adhere to the two metre social distancing guidelines.
If there are multiple stables blocks within each yard try and keep them separate.
Ask clients to wash their hands before they leave their house, again on arrival at the yard, when they leave the yard and as soon as they arrive home.
Devise a rota for disinfecting frequently touched items (such as a door, or gates).
In this challenging situation good clear communication is key, it helps to avoid confusion and conflict:
Set up a Facebook or WhatsApp group to keep all of your liveries up to date.
Agree on and share rules with your liveries so everyone is clear about what they can and can’t do.
Set up a buddy system to limit visitors to the yard, allowing DIY / part livery clients only one visit per person per day.
On large yards you may want to set up a committee of two or three owners who can represent the views of all and be heard. This will help to avoid clients potentially speaking to your employees about their concerns and putting your staff in a compromised position. Insist that any concerns and queries are fed directly to you for you to deal with.
When it comes to riding, as a yard owner or manager, it is at your discretion to make an informed decision if to allow your clients to ride or not, and this will vary from yard to yard. This decision should be made whilst keeping in mind not to put any extra drain on the NHS. For example, if your yard is continuing to allow clients to ride you may want to restrict certain activities such as jumping.
Remember that it’s not for ever. Everyone is controlled by the virus; it is your job to ensure the welfare of the horses and your clients, as well as maintaining business viability for all concerned.
Remind liveries that you are only trying to do their best for them. It is a period of time that will pass and as long of the welfare of the horses is prioritised then everything else must take a back seat to prioritise the health and safety of all.
DIYs vs Full livery
DIY (Do It Yourself) Livery Anyone with a horse on DIY livery who is responsible for the full care and welfare of the horse is known as a primary carer. A primary carer is allowed to attend the yard as this is essential travel to ensure the needs of the horses care are met, unless the welfare needs of the horse can be met by the yard owner / manager.
Full Livery Anyone with an equine in full livery, where all of the daily care and welfare needs are met under the agreement that you have with your client, is not seen as essential travel and therefore the governments’ advice to stay at home might be the best course.
Remind your clients that they are paying for a service and your yard policy of lockdown is there to protect everyone, including other clients, yourself and your employees.
As long as the horse has food, water, clean bedding and some form of exercise daily (which includes turn out / going on the horse walker) then their welfare is not compromised.
ridiNG & CARING FOR HORSES
The welfare of horses, and other livestock, is still essential, making your travel as an employer, employee or owner to provide care valid under the current guidance.
Please keep your own health and safety in mind, as well as that of your employees, clients and everyone around you.
To help through these uncertain and ever-changing times, we have put together some guidance for all around looking after and riding horses under the current requirements.
GOING TO THE YARD
Keep visits to a minimum without compromising your horse’s welfare – consider a buddy system with another livery
Go to the yard solo – no passengers, family or children
Change into clean yard clothes
Wash your hands with soap and warm water before leaving the house
Consider putting your horse on full livery if it’s available and financially viable
If your horse is on full livery, only make essential yard journeys. Keep in touch by phone, email or video call with the yard.
AT THE YARD
Wash hands thoroughly on arrival – take soap and water with you if the facilities aren’t available
Maintain social distancing with other liveries and avoid common areas, such as tea rooms, as much as possible. Keep at least two metres apart at any time
Use your own equipment. If you need to use shared equipment such as wheelbarrows or hosepipes, disinfect the areas you’re touching or wear disposable gloves
Avoid activities that carry an increased risk of injury and consider wearing an up-to-standard riding hat while handling your horse
Take advantage of feed, hay and bedding suppliers who offer a delivery service, and liaise with them closely to ensure that their service isn’t impacted. Make provision of essential supplies so you are prepared in the event of a shortage
Limit the number of visitors to the yard, and ask that those who do visit closely follow hygiene and social distancing guidance
LEAVING THE YARD
Keep your visit timely and avoid lingering – only carry out what’s necessary to ensure your horse’s welfare and wellbeing
Wash hands thoroughly before leaving the yard
If you have hand sanitiser that’s at least 60% alcohol, use it to clean your hands when you get into your car
Wash hands with warm water and soap straight away
Have a specific ‘yard visit’ towel to dry your hands on
Get changed immediately into clean, fresh clothes
If you keep your horse(s) at home, many of these points, particularly around hygiene and clothing, should be observed.
stagger clients visiting times
If you have liveries (this principle could even work with staff) stagger the times they are on the yard by giving them time slots.
Ensure that all clients follow strict biosecurity measures and adhere to social distancing.
YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Your mental health matters and at a time when everything seems a little uncertain it is important to stay in communication with those around you.
If you are feeling worried or out of sorts then have a look atEmployers Minds, our online support to help you.
Remember at this time your friends and colleagues may also be struggling so reach out and stay in contact. Here at the EEA we are open as normal and here to chat and help where we can.
As the coronavirus continues to spread keep up to date withadvice from the NHSwho has detailed information on staying safe, and symptoms.