University News

March 28th 2020
 Copy of HPA Frequently Asked Questions issued 26 03 2020. FOR GUIDANCE

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS as at 26 March 2020

 

In order to help Clubs and members as much as possible during this very difficult time the HPA has set up a list of FAQs.

 

As we all know, the situation is rapidly changing and we will update this list as frequently as required to reflect current Government advice or directives.  

 

The requirements of the Government up until 15 April (after Easter) are clearly set out link to govt policy note

 

·      Except for very specific purposes, everyone is required to stay at home;

·      Only essential travel;

·      All non-essential shops are to close. Enclosed spaces in parks, including playgrounds, sports courts and pitches,and outdoor gyms or similar are to close. Individuals may exercise once a day;

·      Any sort of activity which involves more than a gathering of two people at clubs or anywhere else unless it consists of family members who are already residing together is precluded. 

 

What do the new measures mean for HPA members and polo?

 

·       No chukkas, lessons or stick & ball at any affiliated HPA club until further notice. 

·      Pony welfare allows essential exercise. 

·      Stay at home to protect the NHS and to save lives. 

 

The update currently on the website still stands, in that there will be no tournament polo before 1stMay, but the new travel restrictions and stay at home policy has changed things dramatically for everyone. We all have an individual responsibility for our own actions and behavior during such an uncertain time, while the HPA has an additional duty to protect the fabric of the sport and the polo community, which stretches far beyond just clubs and players. The safeguarding of everyone in the sport and in the communities in which we all live is the most important consideration at this time. We also need to be in tune with the actions and guidance given by other sports and sensitive to the wider public perception of the sport and our actions at this time.  

 

When will the HPA give clearer guidance on the situation?

 

The HPA has set up a COVID-19 Steering Group chaired by the Chief Executive. This will give updates as and when the situation becomes clearer but will also adjust and add to these FAQs. We also welcome queries. It is probably best if these are submitted in brief by email so that we can ring with a response. We also intend to reach out to every club (this process has already started) to offer support and guidance at this time. 

 

Should I bring my horses in and get them ready for the season?

 

Many ponies are already in work in anticipation of the 2020 summer season, but this is a decision for each individual. Ponies take time to get fit from the field so to have them in and at least half fit on tick over might be an option, but must depend on the personal situation, facilities available to each individual and the extent to which you have a choice. The level and competitiveness of the polo that you plan to play may also be a factor. Once in, they will require greater care and regular exercise. It may be that you choose for now to bring into work a restricted number and then review the situation as it develops in the coming weeks. If you subsequently have to self-isolate you will have to make arrangements for someone else to exercise them.

 

Are we allowed to hack out/exercise ponies under the current restrictions?

 

There are restrictions relating to us taking exercise but exercising is essential for horses in work and can continue subject to government conditions.However, it should be limited to what is necessary for the welfare of the horse given the current situation of no chukkas or matches.

 

My ponies are on full livery: am I allowed to go and ride/exercise them? 

 

Exercising is essential for horses in work and if the livery yard is unable to exercise them then you may have to do this. You should check with the livery yard that they are happy for you to do so and that they have adopted the hygiene guidance. All must keep 2m apart at all times, including when mounting, riding and dismounting. 

 

Can we stick and ball at a club or on a private ground?

 

Stick and balling is part of exercising and can therefore take place if it involves no travel for the pony and is subject to the Government conditions. However, perceptions are important and the HPA requests that there is no stick and ball at clubsas the HPA assess this as non-essential. 

 

Can we play chukkas and practices?

 

Chukkas and practices are not possibleunder the current Government conditions.  

 

Can I still go to polo lessons at Polo schools or clubs? 

 

The HPA have postponed or cancelled all HPA training days for the foreseeable future and polo clubs and schools must now do so until after Easter. 

 

Are we allowed to travel since the government requested “essential travel” only?

 

There should now be no travel unless it is essential for the welfare of the ponies in work and travelling should be kept to the minimum necessary to maintain the health of the ponies until it becomes clearer as to when tournament polo is going to start. If the travel decree is abused the sport will suffer long term reputational damage. 

 

Can we still maintain of our grounds and facilities? 

 

In line with other sports, such as Tennis & Racing, clubs are asked to reduce physical operations to a minimum in order to maintain the grounds and security of sites. All government guidelines must be followed by clubs. 

 

Will the season start on time?

 

No. We have already announced there will be no tournament polo before May 1st. All of us are working hard to start the season as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so and this is a date that we will keep under regular review. Much will depend on the effect of the lock down and the spread of the virus. If the sport risks placing an unacceptable burden on the NHS, it must be likely that there will not be any properly competitive tournaments unless private health care is available.

 

What can I do as an individual to help? 

 

The aim of the Government’s requests is to save livesby slowing the spread of the virus. This is affecting the entire population and ignoring the requests puts everyone, and the sport, at greater risk. Public perception is very important and doing the right thing, supporting the various measures over the next few weeks, will also increase the chances of a season going ahead. Doing too much now puts at greater risk playing later on. Preparation must be limited to the minimum amount necessary to ensure that the ponies are kept healthy and fit enough to be ready for the start of competitive polo as and when that date becomes more certain.

We would like to hear from you if you have ideas on how we can support the efforts of those on the front line and/or affected by the pandemic.

 

Can I still use social media? 

 

Remember that polo is too often a target for the press. We would encourage the users of social media to keep polo in the forefront of the minds of our members but before posting anything please always apply the test of ‘is it good for polo’ and/or ‘could it be twisted to damage polo in any way’?  In this respect images or posts of playing at this time are likely to be inappropriate and unhelpful. Images of previous happier times are safe if it is clearly stated that they are historic. You can send images to be shared on the HPA Instagram channel via whatsapp on +44 7310 105412.

 

What practical steps should I take at a workplace such as a club/yard/polo school?

·    Horses still have to be looked after and exercised.  

·    Checks and Records:

o   Each individual should sign a declaration to say they have been symptom free for 14 days and have not travelled to an infected zone or been in contact with anyone showing symptoms. 

o   An entry/ exit log of all individuals is recommended.

o   There should be visual checks for Signs & Symptoms (S&S) of COVID-19. Non-contact thermometers should be used. 

·    Hygiene Measures:

o   All must maintain a 2 metre distance between persons at all times. This includes when riding or helping someone to mount or dismount.

o   There should be obligatory clearly marked hand wash stations. 

o   Wear gloves and wash them frequently. 

o   Keep your yard clothes separate from your home clothes and wash them all frequently. 

o   Keep your tack and any shared equipment clean using an antiseptic sanitizer. 

 

What if someone is showing COVID-19 symptoms at my club/ yard?

 

If an individual has S&S that individual should self-isolate for 14 days. Other players and the HPA should be informed.

For further information and advice please visit:

 https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

 

Can I give COVID-19 to my horse and can a horse transmit the virus? 

 

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that horses can transmit or catch the virus. If you are sharing tack between individuals we would always advise the highest hygiene standards such as disinfecting reins and wearing gloves. 

 

I have a groom coming into the country, should they still come?

 

It is up to the individual whether their groom(s) come to the UK but the HPA is planning that the season will continue in some form, subject to Government conditions. 

 

Can my club apply for Govt help? 

If your business is affected by COVID-19 then you should be able to apply for Govt help. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses

 

 

The following advise is taken from Horse & Hound as of 24Mar 2020 but is relevant to all equine industries and be of use, but as stated in the article the situation remains every fluid – https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/coronavirus-horse-riding-equestrian-businesses-grooms-riders-710146

 

I’m a freelance groom, is this going to affect me and my income?

It may well do — you must follow government health advice even though it is a worrying time when freelancers are not entitled to statutory sick pay. However, yards may need freelancers to help cover staff sickness and/or self-isolation periods, plus the government has announced some measures in a bid to ease financial pressures. These include making it easier to apply for Universal Credit. The situation is changing rapidly and the British Grooms Association has more advice here

 

I run a club/yard — what happens if my staff cannot work through sickness or self-isolation?

The government has announced it will help businesses with fewer than 250 employees by funding two weeks of statutory sick pay. Make a contingency plan as to what to do if staff do need to have time off — the British Horse Society and Equestrian Employers Association have some helpful advice hereand here

 

What happens if a school is closed and my staff need to take time off to care for their children?

All employees have a right to emergency time off during working hours where a dependant is concerned. The amount of time should be reasonable to the situation (usually days rather than longer term) and there is no statutory right to be paid for this — whether you are or not comes down to your employer. More information can be found here

 

Is there government help available for freelancers and businesses?

Yes — the situation is changing all the time, but Boris Johnson and the Chancellor have announced some measures to help those who will be impacted financially. The very latest information direct from the government for employers, employees and businesses can be found here 

 

What should that plan involve and what practical things can I do now to prepare?

 

The British Horse Society has some helpful advice for owners — one tip that all owners can do now is to write a care plan for each horse. This can include things like which rugs he wears, what he eats, any medication, where you keep your equipment and his normal routine. Other tips include ensuring you have sufficient supplies — without panic buying – and keeping in touch with your fellow liveries and yard owner through a WhatsApp group. For more advice, click here

 

What do I do if I notice a neglected pony/ ponies? 

 

Please report any welfare issues in the normal way, through enquiries@hpa-polo.co.uk. In these difficult times we must all be patient and ensure that the HPA are given time to investigate. We fully understand that most pony owners are responsible but also due to no fault of their own, some owners may not be able to attend to their ponies as they would like because of self-isolation. 

 

If I fall off and break a leg, will I be a burden on the NHS?

 

Yes, this is a risk, but on balance a small one. Accidents will happen in many different ways and A&E will be separate to any treatment for the virus and thus will not directly affect the support in place to tackle those affected by the virus. Clubs are being encouraged to establish a private ambulance service so that the 999 ambulances do not have to be called.