The BHS has received many expressions of thanks for the prompt advice it gave to horse riders as soon as the first case of Foot and Mouth disease was confirmed. Riders have been grateful for the guidance offered, and farmers have greatly appreciated the way many riders have taken that advice and not ridden out in the countryside.

Ben Gill, National Farmers' Union President said: "I would like to extend my thanks, on behalf of the National Farmers' Union, for the measures taken by the BHS during the current Foot and Mouth Disease crisis. It is vitally important that movements within the countryside are limited to the greatest possible extent, and the measures they have taken have served to improve this situation."

The BHS hopes that horse riders will continue to support the farming
community by doing our utmost to contain this disease and protect farmers
and the countryside from further damage.


The BHS continues to advise riders not to hack out on bridleways, common land, open spaces or moorland, and to stay away from roads in rural areas. Although the movement order does not apply to horses, the BHS advise that horse owners should not transport their horses anywhere at the moment unless it is absolutely essential and stringent precautions are taken. Advice on these can be found on the BHS website:

The BHS is postponing events that involve bringing in horses from outside until the situation is more stable. "The next couple of weeks are crucial, and until we know the extent of the outbreak, and can be certain which areas are affected and which are not, it is better to err on the side of caution."

There is no reason why farriers and feed merchants cannot carry out essential visits to yards that only have horses on site, as long as suitable precautions are taken.

The situation concerning foot and mouth is very fluid at the moment, and we should all be doing everything we can to prevent the spread of the disease. We have to be seen to be supporting the farmers 101% on this one. Once the outbreak is contained, and we can be certain which areas are free of it, then we may reconsider this advice.

Horses cannot get the disease, and they are not "carriers" in the medical sense. Horses would NOT have to be slaughtered on an infected farm. This has been confirmed to the BHS by MAFF Animal Health Advisers. However they can transport the disease via their hooves, just as humans can on their boots or cars on their tyres.

Decisions by the BHS to postpone events will be posted on the BHS website
( or contact the BHS (08701 20 22 44) for news.

NB WARNING TO MOTORISTS: Because of the difficulties in riding in the countryside, there are likely to be more horses on the roads in urban areas. Please be patient and considerate: pass wide and slow, only when the road ahead is clear

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Updated: October 2005.