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Posted by manager on 29/03/2020.

Essential Services Recognition-Horse and Animal Industries

On Sunday 29 March 2020, the ESA Chair wrote to the Australian Government raising key points for consideration regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic, and what it could mean for our members and the welfare of their horses. Please find the letter below. 


The Honorable Tim Whetstone MP

Minister for Agriculture

Dear Minister,

Essential Services Recognition-Horse and Animal Industries.

On behalf of Equestrian South Australia, I am writing to you as a voice for our members in order to raise your awareness regarding horse welfare during the COVID-19 Pandemic. There are four primary issues I would like you to consider:

  1. Daily care of horses. Owners need to be able to meet their obligations under State animal welfare laws. In order to do this, they often need to travel from their home to where the horse is kept. Horse SA has written to you recently and suggested that Property identification Code (PIC) recognition cards could be one method of enabling individuals to demonstrate their need to travel for animal care purposes.
  2. Emergency care of horses. We welcome acceptance that Veterinarians and Veterinary Nurses are essential services. We would appreciate you making Farriers and Dentists also essential services. There is also a need to consider and adjust as necessary the regulations that would allow telemedicine to be safely practised at least during the COVID-19 period.
  3. Animal industry support services. The movement of horses from stabling to pasture and via transporters to Clinics, Crematoriums and new carers (in the event the owner is isolated or being treated for the COVID-19 virus) is an essential service and we would like it to be classed as such. Also, the stock feed and supplements manufacturers, suppliers and stores together with stock feed transport should similarly be classed as essential services.
  4. The inevitable loss of earnings over the COVID-19 period will be challenging for all Australians. Our Members will be equally challenged and, I am sure, will strive to ensure the welfare of their horses. If they cannot, rescue centres, already full, will not be able to cope. Horse welfare will suffer considerably and increased horse deaths are a likely outcome. We would welcome the establishment of a National Taskforce to find the best solution for these likely events.

One final point by way of a suggestion. In consultation with Thoroughbred Racing SA (TRSA), we have access to the NZTR Directive for COVID-19 - the implementation of which, even at the current stage 4 lockdown in New Zealand, is enabling equine businesses such as training stables, agistment properties and stud farms etc., where horses are kept, to register with the  NZ Minister for Primary Industry as an essential service under animal welfare considerations. This directive could form the basis for a directive that the Australian Government would issue, since it is critical that we too are able to put solutions in place to allow travel for ongoing care of horses by their owners, if and when further COVID-19 restrictions are mandated. 

We all know that our personal wellbeing is better when animals we love are fit, well and content. It is our aim to ensure that the health and wellbeing of our members and their horses are protected and that, as a sport we compete and win on an international stage and give Australia one more thing to be proud of.

I hope you find the above requests acceptable and suggestions helpful, and that a declaration of essential services can be appropriately made for the horse and animal industries. I would be most appreciative of the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these pressing issues and to work with you towards finding the best way forward for our members and their horses.

Stephen Ludlam
Equestrian South Australia

Also copied to:

  • The Honourable Greg Hunt MP
  • The Honourable David Littleproud MP
  • Senator The Honourable Richard Colbeck
  • The Honourable Stephen Wade MLC
  • The Honourable Corey Wingard MP
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