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The British Horse Society HORSE RIDERS: what you can and can’t do

Everyone involved in equestrianism must take every possible precaution to ensure they do not inadvertently contribute to the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease. However, there is no need to stop riding completely in counties that are not affected.


Horses do not spread foot and mouth any more than people do. Just as people or cars, they can transport the virus on the mud on their feet. This can be avoided by thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the horse’s feet before going out. The BHS has based the advice given on information from MAFF and the Animal Health Trust ( 01638 751000).

WHAT YOU CAN DO in non affected counties

Use your common sense, having due regard to the risks, and the sensitivities of your farming neighbours.

Hacking out

You can ride on your own land or on any land where the land owner/manager is happy to allow it, as long as there is no livestock. You can hack your horse on roads. You must be careful to obey the highway code, wear hi-viz gear and avoid any roads that pass close to farm animals. Disinfect your horse’s feet before and after going out. The BHS is asking riders in sensitive areas to have regard to the feelings of their farming neighbours and to stay well away from any livestock.

Visits from Instructors, Farriers, Feed Merchants and others

There is nothing to prevent people going to and from a yard or stables. This means that visits from farriers, feed merchants, pupils, students, instructors can all go ahead as usual. It would be a wise precaution to disinfect those coming and going, just in case there is anyone coming from an infected area.

Transporting Horses

Horses are not included in the MAFF Movement Order, so there is no legal reason to prevent people transporting their horses. However, it is better not to move horses around if you can avoid doing so, just to minimise traffic in the countryside.

Hygiene recommendations for moving horses

Pick out horses feet when leaving the premises and disinfect with a MAFF approved disinfectant, repeat this process when returning home or before loading to travel home.

Rider's boots should also be cleaned and dipped in disinfectant.

Strict attention should be paid to the cleansing and disinfecting of the wheels and lower parts of vehicles and low slung parts of trailers, as well as ramps.

Horses must only be moved in thoroughly cleaned and disinfected transport. This must be dedicated equine transport (i.e. not a lorry or trailer that is used for transporting cattle, sheep, goats or pigs).

Horses on Farms

Some horses are kept on stock farms - If you come from a stock farm or come into contact with farm animals you need to be extra vigilant. When away from home avoid all land where susceptible animals are grazed or housed.

Horses being transported must be kept segregated from all susceptible livestock for 14 days. Horses new to an area should avoid sharing farmyards, grazing, housing, equipment or personnel with susceptible livestock.

Recommendations for event organisers

It is better to postpone events and shows until the situation is more stable. It is okay to go ahead where it does not involve bringing horses in (ie demonstrations, social events).

Cancel all activities planned on land where susceptible livestock have recently been grazing and in infected areas. Contact your local ministry vet for advice.

If you do decide to go ahead, take the following precautions:

  • Provide one combined entrance or exit and ensure all vehicles travel over a disinfectant soaked straw bed or suitable alternative.
  • Only horses and pedestrians should be allowed onto the venue, dogs and other animals should not be allowed to enter.
  • Horses should be led over disinfectant soaked straw bed after unloading and prior to leaving (consider gateway to warm up area?)
  • All pedestrians should be required to clean and disinfect footwear on arrival at and departure from the venue.
  • Ride on rights of way that have been closed by the local authority. There is a £5000 fine for infringement.
  • Ride on farmland that is used for grazing by susceptible livestock.
  • Hold events in infected areas or on land that has been grazed by susceptible livestock.
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