Many people are now getting out for a practise round of jumping, a dressage session in a large school, a spin round a local cross-country course, or even an unaffiliated training show now equestrian centres are open after lockdown. In order for equestrian centres to successfully re-open, owners and managers have put in hours of hard work to make sure that their customers both stay safe and enjoy being back out with their horses.

We caught up with Abigail Turnbull and Joanna Coates from Richmond Equestrian Centre in North Yorkshire. Abigail and her husband, Andrew Turnbull own Richmond EC and Joanna manages this large and busy centre.

Abigail said: “We have done numerous risk assessments, followed all the government guidelines and used a lot of good, old fashioned, common sense to get ourselves back up and running. Our insurers, SEIB have been really helpful and clear with where we stand over our insurance cover. The BHS have been amazing, their consultant has given us some great advice on getting the indoor arenas opened back up and they have provided us with many equine specific risk assessments to make sure we have covered all bases.”

Features such as notices reminding people to minimise touching surfaces, hand sanitizers, one-way systems, extra cleaning routines and social distancing markers have become as much of a part of life at equestrian centres as any other public place. At Richmond, the team have taken this all several steps further to ensure everyone stays safe. Abigail continued: “We have listened closely to feedback from people hiring our facilities and have received such positive comments. Our customers are our priority and we are delighted they are happy.”

Richmond EC held their first British Showjumping (BS) training show on the 12th, 13th  and 14th June. Abigail said: “We have lovely livery clients, family and friends – it was very much a case of ‘all hands on deck’ for the training show. Our socially distanced team worked brilliantly together and used great common sense. We decided that everyone on our ‘staff’ for the training show should wear a hi-viz tabard which proved to be very useful for the competitors to identify them. Our café opened for food and drinks takeaway for the training show – the lady that runs the café had her daughter who lives with her helping in there.”

Following their first unaffiliated jumping show on the 20th June, feedback to the team at Richmond has highlighted how helpful it is for competitors to have set times for when they will be jumping. Abigail said: “Our customers love the fact that they know what they will be doing and when. The pre-entering and start times are working really well. We have also had feedback that with less people in the warm-up, it is not as stressful and so much safer for all concerned. Some individuals going out competing on their own have commented about how much easier it is to have stewards putting the warm-up fence up. Understandably, we have had a few parents itching to get into the warm-up to help their children, but our team are on hand and in there to help - even more so for our younger competitors.”

It is so important that both the people running hire facilities – and those using them – are following the government guidelines and feel safe and comfortable in what they are doing at this uncertain time. If you are planning to head out to a hire centre with your horse and are not quite sure about something, why not pick up the phone or send a message to the venue and ask – chances are, your query is something that will have already been addressed, and if not, it gives the centre owner or manager a good opportunity to put something in place for you and future customers.

About SEIB

We have been providing insurance for horses for over 50 years. This experience allows us to tailor policies to suit your circumstances and ensure that you and your horses are covered should the worst happen. If you’d like advice on your insurance please call us on 01708 850000.