If, like me, you have spent the weekend listening to the Classic FM Hall of Fame counting down their amazing 300 most popular pieces of classical music; haven’t we been in good company, in spite of being isolated from the grandbabies, friends, wider family and society? In between being the calving emergency nurse, grooming the ponies to give the birds as much soft nest lining hair as they need and watching crows stake out the nest of the stupid hen pheasant that laid her eggs in an open plough furrow then drew attention to her daftness by having a dramatic dust bath nearby celebrating the appreciated dry spell. It has been an unusual Easter weekend to say the least.

Besides the welcome long bank holiday; BHS Scotland is busy as ever in our role of supporting and informing our stakeholders which includes all horse owners as well as equestrian businesses, coaches and everyone we work with. It broke our heart to hand back almost 15k in booking fees for our master class, various rides including Balmoral and the much anticipated and well booked Laminitis conference as well as numerous other events; 2020 was shaping up to be one of our busiest and best supported years ever. But never dauted The BHS very quickly turned its attention to the creation of an informative and comprehensive Covid hub that covers every aspect of the situation as it changes with new advice and directives highlighted daily.


The four Nations action plan that UK government and the devolved administrations have developed sets out joint working principles around understanding, delaying and mitigating the affects from the course of the virus as well as research and hopefully the development of a vaccine. Meanwhile each nation has a devolved approach – and our Chief Veterinary Officer, Sheila Voas has been very good at supporting Scotland’s animal health and welfare stakeholders; explaining that maintaining good animal welfare for every species in Scotland is essential to the health and welfare of Scottish society, so we play our role. Excellent equine care is a must and its been heartening to see livery yards and owners buddy up, create rotas and keep journeys to a minimum.

We are answering a variety of questions on roadcraft, access to off road riding, flu and tetanus vaccinations, farriers, enrichment, and every aspect of the five domains of animal welfare.

The thorny question of “to ride or not to ride” has exercised our minds over the last three weeks with the BHS view being; “We are getting a lot of questions in relation to riding your horse, there are no specific government guidelines regarding this at present. We advise that it is not appropriate to put unnecessary pressure on the emergency services and everyone should make their own individual decision as whether riding is necessary at this time.”

The government has fallen short of banning all risk sports like some other countries and BHS advice chimes with most equestrian organisations including the BEF, Pony Club and World Horse Welfare but essentially it is individual responsibility and as long as people take a risk assessed approach to the subject it is completely up to them. I did hear people being warned not to undertake extreme DIY over the bank holiday to prevent the usual Easter rise in hospital admissions from people falling off ladders and putting nails through their hands, so overall we are all trying to save the NHS in every way we can.

Our unique and precious access to the countryside with responsibility legislation has adapted to the national emergency urging folk to stay local yet 2 metres apart, be extra deferential to the working countryside and doubly responsible with dog control this spring time with so many young animals on the ground and avoid touching shared surfaces like gate latches. Part of this is not touching (or feeding) the friendly equines in your neighbourhood – BHS Scotland is supporting this campaign too. So how else will we stop the ponies and ourselves being overweight? By tapping into the knowledge and energy that is readily available and looking out for each other – we may be apart, but we are in good company, so above all stay kind.