By Helene Mauchlen

The government is taking a Whac-A-Mole approach to the pandemic now with flare ups in Aberdeen and Blairgowrie subsiding, as central Glasgow and maybe Speyside become the new areas of concern.

But now we have trace and test in our armoury so as long as the organisers of gatherings take details, then there shouldn't be an outbreak after an organised event or emanating from a business, restaurant or garden centre etc – all the other potential contacts can be advised.

So, at this stage in a global pandemic, BHS Scotland is about to pull ourselves up to our full height and hold some events, with a camp and a ride among them. As a large British organisation, the support we get from other departments in safe operations in normal times is phenomenal with risk assessment templates, signage, insurance and equipment all on hand.

Now during Covid-19, this is a whole different ball game with additional risks and preventions, tracing and bubbles, avoiding congregations and how to be socially distanced becoming new challenges – even outside in a field.

But we can do this and it will be great to see a semblance of normality returning. We just hope the virus stays suppressed and we don’t see more local lock downs and of course a vaccination soon – which would be the best news of all.

One of the days we plan to hold is our ‘chip and go’ event held at United Auctions, in Stirling, where we will offer affordable microchipping at a £5 (and passporting if needed), courtesy of the British Equine Veterinary Association to those who book online.

Of course we don’t expect people to travel too far for this service as you can take an equine to a local vet and get a chip for not that much more, which begs the question – why are we doing such a thing in the first place?

The central Scotland chipping day is being held by the Scottish Government's request, almost as a demonstration day to remind all horse owners that they need to comply with the law that sets a deadline for all equines of any age in Scotland to be chipped before March 28.

The emphasis of our day has always been on offering the service in a charitable way – helping people who really can’t afford it, but in my eyes if you have a horse and equine transport, you can’t plead poverty and you would be better to support your local vet to keep that relationship healthy for the sake of your horses’ long-term health!

It is therefore slightly controversial but here we are, with a government in Scotland that is investing in our sector and putting in place the first steps towards a truly traceable system (ScotEquine) with real time accuracy, that brings enormous long term health and welfare gains for equines and people.

BHS is first and foremost a welfare organisation and we are going to support the Scottish Government and ScotEquine in every way we can. They both have been inundated with people complaining about the cost of a chip, so we decided to catch attention by showing best practice and helping out in a way we can.

My last set of shoes for the pony cost £85 and a hoof trim for the retired one was £50 – so a chip is cheap really and the long term investment and gains are massive – BUT also we understand people suffer hardship to keep their ponies and we want to help.

We also know many vets want to aid compliance too so hopefully their help completes a virtual circle that supports our precious veterinary industry too – a win-win for legislation, equines, owner and vets.