Dr Debbie Marsden BSc PhD, Equine Behaviour Consultant Contact Details  
Dr Debbie Marsden, one of the world's leading experts in the field of equine behaviour
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Covid 19 (Coronavirus)

General Safety Advice

Avoid the area or activity where the problem occurs if at all practicable. If a ridden problem, stop riding and use ground work or physio led exercises including pole work for example. Only use techniques you are competent in and confident you can do safely. If a travel issue avoid travel and ask your vet to assist with sedation in any emergency or if travel unavoidable.

Wear your riding hat, stout boots ideally with steel toecaps, riding gloves and a body protector around your ‘problem’ horse at all times.

Do not work around a loose horse in a box. Catch (over the door if bargy etc) and take out and tie up to do. Use a grazing muzzle for horses that bite.

If self isolating or avoiding others but doing your horse e.g. without other people around, make sure family or friends know when you should be safely back and call/ text etc to let them know, so that if anything goes wrong and they don’t hear from you at the expected time, they can check and summon help if required.

Make contingency plans for horse care should you become ill or advised to self isolate for any reason, including arranging full livery and/or booking other professional horse care. Encourage your livery yard to come up with a group plan here. Do not allow non horsy people, however well meaning, to help as they may get hurt.

Have your horse’s passport and a document where it is readily available to those who may be helping with all of your horse’s day to day care requirements on it (multiple copies if required e.g. at home, at work, at the yard) - including medication, allergies, feed (all details of what goes into bucket and if soaked and for how long etc and which and amounts of forage and when feed or haynets etc given or if fed loose), supplements, favourite treats, dislikes, quirks, rug regime, usual exercise, date last wormed and with what, date last shod, when vaccination due and contact details for professionals involved with your horse including vet, farrier, saddler, physio and any other therapist used. Try the ‘ Twasme’ system which is a bit like Facebook for horses! Hopefully you won’t need any help here, but it will give you peace of mind if pre-organised.

Be mindful of vulnerable others and do what you can to help them - staying sensible and working together is always best in the long term and in these tough times, our equine friends can be a great comfort.

Horse Care and Coronavirus (Covid 19)


The SEBC website www.sebc.org.uk has a lot of free information on horse behaviour and safety and links to professional organisations (farriers, vets, physios) offering specialist advice on horse care at this time. There is a new button on the home page for specific advice in relation to management of behaviour problems in the current situation. Most importantly follow Government advice and yard policy in respect of hygiene and social distancing and do not allow non horsy people to help with your horse as, however kind and well meaning, they are at high risk of getting hurt and causing accidents to others should they lose control of the horse.

Free Helpline

We have also extended our free helpline (for help with behaviour problems) to cover advice on all aspects of horse care and safety around horses at this time. Call 01899 221 888 where, if we cannot answer straight away, you can leave your details for a call back, and we will do our best to assist you.


We would like to pass on the excellent advice given by the BHS for all riders;

"There are no specific government guidelines around whether we should still be out riding at present. Our strong advice is that it is not appropriate to put unnecessary pressure on the emergency services now or for the foreseeable future. It is incumbent on all of us to make an individual decision as to whether riding is necessary at all but our choices should be mindful of the potential impact for ourselves and others”.

There are many ways to safely exercise a horse without riding - you can use any ground work you are familiar with and competent in or contact your nearest instructor for a ‘virtual’ lesson. Pole work and specific exercises designed by physiotherapists (www.werc.co.uk) are particularly useful as these are easy to do and target all the right muscles in there right way! Lead in a bridle for more control and to keep your horse used to it.


All things pass. When we are free from Coronavirus (Covid 19) please remember you and your horse will both need time to get fit for riding again. Once you are ready, make sure that your horse is physically ready. Ask for a physio check (www.acpat.org) and get your farrier to make sure the feet are balanced and well shod. Get your saddle fit checked by a SMS qualified saddle fitter before getting on again, as it is highly likely your horse’s shape will have changed (www.mastersaddlers.co.uk). This is very important as even a slight alteration in fit is a common cause of discomfort, behaviour problems and accidents. Build up to your usual work slowly and progressively - if you are not sure how to do this get advice from a qualified instructor who can build a sensible fittening programme specifically for you and your horse (www.bhs.org.uk).

Help With Horse Care

The BHS has a volunteer system for anyone who is ill and struggling to get help to look after their horse or who can volunteer to offer such help - see www.bhs.org.

Our equine friends can be a great comfort - enjoy - safely!


Call: 01899 221888 Write to: Dr Marsden, PO Box 8776, Biggar, ML12 6WL. Email: mdmequestrian@gmail.com
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