Native Equine Breeding - COVID -19 Advice and Guidelines

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Covid - 19 - Guidance Protocol for Clydesdale Breeders – April 2020


The Clydesdale Horse Society has prepared this protocol and guidance having received good advice from the rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) and a copy of RBST advice is noted at the end of this guidance.  In particular we would draw your attention to the fifth paragraph of RBST advice which states: -

"RBST believes that through adhering to the stringent guidance and protocols, travel and activities that are absolutely necessary for the breeding of native equines may be able to continue. Such protocols must be stringent, detail best practice, and scrupulous records should be kept."

The Clydesdale Horse Society fully recognises the extremely serious and unprecedented situation facing this country and the wider world and the Society is in no doubt this is the most severe global health crisis we have all had to face in recent memory.

Through full and strict adherence to the protocols and guidance we set out below the Clydesdale Horse Society is able to demonstrate it can responsibly recommend to Clydesdale owners, breeders and Society members  (Stakeholders) best practice in helping everyone involved with horses to comply with the current Government advice.

It must be stated at the outset that all stakeholders involved in this protocol must be in good health (with an absence of Covid 19 clinical signs and with no temperature), and not in contact with persons at risk or with vulnerable people at risk.

At this time, if you cannot follow all of this guidance protocol you should not be moving and transporting horses for breeding. Human health and NHS resources are the priority.


On Monday 23 March, the UK Government introduced restrictions requiring people to stay at home as far as possible to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. These restrictions were in place initially for the three weeks following 23 March.  These restrictions were extended for a further 3 weeks on 16th April 2020.

The initial restrictions, which were continued in the Government announcement on 16th April 2020, included these measures:

1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes, these being shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.  Specifically, the measures allow for:

- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk or cycle - alone or with members of your household.

- any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

- travelling to and from work, but only where this work absolutely cannot be done from home.

2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces.

3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public.

Essential stud work cannot be carried out from home and the Clydesdale Horse Society, on the basis of advice currently available, believes that the protocols listed below will allow for absolutely necessary travel and activities for Clydesdale breeding operations.

This guidance is  based on latest Government guidance it will be updated if anything material changes.


1. Only staff who are essential to the care of horses, and who absolutely cannot work from home, should continue to travel to work during the period of these restrictions.

2. The standard of care should be focussed primarily on upholding the welfare of the horses in their care. Any non-essential activity beyond this must be carefully considered and, where possible, avoided.

3. Studs must close to any visitors, other than those that are essential for the welfare of the horses in their care.

4. Staff must follow all Government advice relating to good hygiene and virus transmission and carry out prescribed hand washing and sanitising procedures including any surfaces/handles/ equipment.

5. Hygiene is vitally important when handling new equine arrivals. Staff will use hand wipes, gels and disinfectants to clean any related equipment both before and after handling.

6. Staff must follow all Government advice on social distancing at all times. Staff must remain at least two meters apart and avoid gatherings of more than two people, apart from members of their own household. Gatherings of more than two should be avoided except where absolutely essential for horse welfare. In these instances, numbers should be limited, and social distancing must still apply.

7. Contact between staff of studs and any essential suppliers must also comply with the Government advice on social distancing, with no more than two people present unless they are of the same household.

8. Veterinary advice by phone and email should be sought on ensuring effective sanitisation and isolation.

9. Local procedures must be recorded and displayed as appropriate and there must be records that staff have been fully trained.


 1. Any appointments must be made in advance of travel (also see item 8. below).

2. Associated paperwork must be completed and sent electronically in advance, including passport information and completion of any required COVID - 19 transport form.

3. The vehicle used for transport must be disinfected before and after every visit including any handles, the ramp or other areas where stud staff may have had, or will have, contact.

4. Staff travelling with the horse must comply with Government advice on social distancing (as outlined in item 6 above).

5. Unless there is an emergency or human or animal welfare requirement related to the animal being transported or the driver, it is prohibited to stop on the journey.

6. At the destination, the unloading and re-loading of the horse must be conducted by the staff at the destination with no contact with the travelling staff. Hygiene precautions must be followed at every stage of this loading process, using robust disinfection processes of the horsebox handles and any equipment, and hand washing.

7. Staff travelling with the horse should only exit the vehicle or horsebox at the location they are visiting to use welfare facilities, using all sanitary precautions. There must be no direct contact with the staff on the site.

8. All these movements between premises must be recorded by you in writing.

 We would also refer you to the following two websites for further guidance: -

The Clydesdale Horse Society is issuing this as good practice to be followed, considering guidance offered by the Rare Breed Survival Trust and in light of current legislation.  The responsibility for complying with legislation on these matters is not that of the Clydesdale Horse Society nor do we accept any responsibility or liability for the actions or the outcome of actions of our members or of breeders of Clydesdale Horses.  But as a responsible organisation we believe that this protocol and this guidance is the best of available practice to be adopted by our members and breeders at this time and we would thoroughly commend this paper to you for your consideration and information

For and on behalf of the Clydesdale Horse Society Executive Committee (acting on behalf of Council).                                                        Ian Roy (Secretary)

Native Equine Breeding Advice: COVID-19 - Issued by Rare Breed Survival Trust - 16 April 2020

Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Stoneleigh Park, Nr. Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 2LG Tel: 024 7669 6551 | email: [email protected] | Patron: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales KG KT GCB Registered Charity No. 269442. Company Limited by Guarantee, Registered in England No. 1204694

Advice to Breeders and Breed Societies (15th April 2020)

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) recognises the extraordinary nature of current events, and the priority of maintaining and ensuring the safety of its members, volunteers, associates and the general public.

As such, RBST has closely followed Government advice and instructions when considering its approaches to the breeding of native equines, first of all ensuring all public health legislation is adhered to, as well as the context of the critically endangered status of some of our equine breeds.

Recent Government guidance on social distancing in the workplace gives examples of how social distancing and other measures might be implemented by employers in the UK to help protect their workforce. As an example of specific and relevant guidance, the Thoroughbred Association (TBA) have developed detailed protocols and guidelines in order to maintain their essential equine breeding activities.

The RBST suggests that Breed Societies representing native equines consider guidance and protocols such as that from the TBA and others as well as their activities in the context of their necessity for the future development and survival of the breeds. Seasonal breeding in mares on average begins on the 7th April in the Northern Hemisphere, therefore the activities of Breed Society members should be in the context that the equine breeding season can run from April to September.

RBST believes that through adhering to the stringent guidance and protocols, travel and activities that are absolutely necessary for the breeding of native equines may be able to continue. Such protocols must be stringent, detail best practice, and scrupulous records should be kept.

At this time, if you cannot follow all of these protocols, you should not be moving and transporting native horses for breeding or requesting veterinary involvement. Public health and NHS resources are the priority.

Advice on moving forward

The RBST advises that during the controls for COVID - 19 that Breed Societies for critically endangered native equines consider developing stringent protocols and associated documents (as examples those developed by trade associations) and thoroughly assess the delivery of breeding strategies that are absolutely necessary to undertake, on a case by case basis.

The 2020-21 RBST Watchlist was published on 8th April and provides information on the critically endangered native equines breeds. If native equines breeds wish to obtain further advice on breeding strategies please contact the RBST Head of Conservation, Prof. Philippe Wilson [[email protected]]

Suggested websites to review