Working in the equestrian sector means that welfare is a very high priority, whether you are a coach, a rider, an equestrian business or horse owner.

Areas you will need to focus on include:

Would you know what to do in an emergency?

Having a 1st Aid qualification could be the difference between life and death in the case of an accident.

Assessing suitability of medical and support staff to work with children in sport



Many sports organisations work alongside external providers such as private ambulances, first aiders, doctors and physios. It is important that when you're employing external providers the appropriate safeguards are considered, so we've created a briefing to provide guidance on assessing suitability.  

First Aid

Child Protection

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We are currently working with Children 1st and sportscotland to update our Child Protection Policy and meet the new Safeguarding standard.

This part of our website will continually be updated over the next few months with new guidance and updated policies.  Please keep checking for new information.

According to the Childrens Act 1989 there is a legal and moral duty of care to protect all children and young adults involved in horse activities.

Therefore if you are going to be working with children you must have a Child Protection Qualification.

Child Protection Officer

The horsescotland Child Protection Officer is Sara Smith and she can be contacted via e-mail safeguarding@horsescotland.org

The horsescotland Lead Director for Child Protection is Richard Johnston-Smith and can also be contacted on safeguarding@horsescotland.org 

Mental Health


Mental Health and Wellbeing e-learning

sportscotland and partners have been supported by SAMH and Scottish Sports Futures in providing tools and techniques to help support players, coaches, parents and officials to achieve a better understanding of mental health and wellbeing, the misconceptions surrounding it, and how to communicate effectively to support a mental health conversation.This e-learning can be accessed here


In addition, Scottish Sports Futures have developed a complimentary Mental Health and Wellbeing ETC Workshop that is available for free until the end of March 2022 due to support and funding from Scottish Government. Initially, this offer will be delivered online and is designed specifically to support coaches in their role. Further information on the learning outcomes and the booking process can be found in the documents below. Further details can be obtained by emailing etc@ssf.org.uk . 

Module overview

Individual attendee

registration form

Partner workshop

booking form

Workshop booking


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Useful Links
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horsescotland have been working closely with Dr Andy Malyon who has provided us with this information and support on Concussion in order to help educate the equestrisan sector on concussion and how to deal with concussion.

What is concussion?

Concussion is a brain injury.  That might sound quite dramatic, but that is what it is & why it is being talked about in sporting circles.  For most people who are concussed, it is a self limiting problem which will resolve with a short period of rest.  The most important thing is to identify the fact someone is concussed and look after them properly.

This section of the website outlines what concussion is, how to recognise it, how to manage it and some of the complications that can be associated with it.  The intention is that we raise the awareness of concussion amongst everyone involved with horse sports in Scotland.  Some of the features described may seem quite dramatic, but as with so many things if we get the basics right & look after someone with concussion properly it should never become a problem in the ways described.

Useful Links


Points to note

  • If in doubt, sit them out.  - Be suspicious, & if you think someone is concussed sit them  out.

  • Rest the body, rest the brain. - If someone is concussed, a full period of rest for body and brain until all symptoms have gone, then a Graduated Return to Play

Equine Welfare


The Animal Health & Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 places a duty of care on pet owners and others responsible for animals (including horses, ponies and donkeys) to ensure that the welfare needs of their animals are met. It also allows the Scottish Parliament to make further regulations to regulate other animal-related activities including, for example, the running of livery yards. You can read the full paper here.

The duty of care is based on the "Five Freedoms":

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst

  • Freedom from discomfort

  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease

  • Freedom to express normal behaviour

  • Freedom from fear and distress

The Scottish Government Code of Practice for the Welfare of Equidae gives advice on how to provide your horse or pony with care that ensures it has the five freedoms. The 75 point document is a practical guide for owners and keepers responsible for equines in Scotland and sets out the underpinning principles of horse care.

Many of our Member Bodies work tirelessly to improve horses welfare, contact them for more information.

Agriculture and Rural Economy learning resources


You can now learn about biosecurity and animal welfare practices thanks to the publication of these courses, which is usually only available to Scottish Government staff.

These courses can be used to educate and inform employers and employees on how to maintain the highest biosecurity standards, and how to respond to animal disease outbreaks.



Learn how to minimise the spread of plant pests and diseases.

Animal Disease Control


This course provides an introduction to Scottish Government policy on animal disease control.


Disclaimer: Within this course there are some graphic images of animal disease that some viewers may find distressing. Viewer discretion is advised.

EHV-1 Update

Quarantine requirements are lifted with immediate effect


While there continue to be infrequent outbreaks of EHV-1 with both respiratory and neurological signs in Europe and the UK, British Equestrian’s Equine Infectious Disease Advisory Group (EIDAG) has concluded that the prevalence of EHV-associated disease has returned to its typical background level.

Click to read more

Following the CES Valencia Spring Tour (ESP), some horses that participated at the event, and left the venue, have since tested positive for EHV-1 at their home stables in other European countries.

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EHV-1 outbreak

Equine Grass Sickness


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Horse owners and keepers all over Scotland are already enjoying the added security which comes from registering on ScotEquine.

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Exciting times ahead for this difficult and devastating disease of equines. A research update and look to the future.

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Equine Passports

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Guidance for owners, keepers, veterinarians and local authorities 2020

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Equine Water Treadmills

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New guidelines endorsed by British Equestrian (BEF) have been published to highlight best practice in the use of water treadmills to train and rehabilitate horses.

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Health & Safety

Working with horses can be quite dangerous if you do not follow Health & Safety guidelines.

To help please find information on:

Safe Guarding in Sport


The PVG Scheme

The PVG Scheme is established by the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007. The scheme is managed and delivered by Disclosure Scotland as an executive agency of the Scottish Government. PVG Scheme membership for volunteers will continue to be processed by Volunteer Scotland Disclosure Services (formerly CRBS).

The scheme is the Scottish Government’s response to recommendation 19 of the Bichard Inquiry Report published in June 2004, following the murder of two schoolgirls in Soham in 2002. Recommendation 19 stated that “new arrangements should be introduced requiring those who wish to work with children, or vulnerable adults, to be registered”. The PVG Scheme provides those new arrangements.

The PVG Scheme does three things:

  • It ensures that those who either have regular contact with vulnerable groups through the workplace, or who are otherwise in regulated work, do not have a history of inappropriate behaviour (through PVG Scheme membership).

  • It excludes people who are known to be unsuitable, on the basis of past behaviour, from working with children and/or protected adults and detects those who become unsuitable while in regulated work (through the creation of lists of people barred from working with children and protected adults).

  • It ends the use of Enhanced Disclosures for work with children and/or protected adults and replaces them with new types of PVG disclosure records.

Who should become a PVG Scheme member?

Membership of the PVG Scheme is not mandatory. The Scheme provides an organisation with a means of satisfying itself that an individual whom they intend to offer regulated work (which includes both paid and unpaid work) is not barred from doing so. This is important as it is an offence under the Act for an organisation to offer work to a barred individual.

Membership of the PVG Scheme is open to people doing, seeking to do, or planning to do regulated work with children and/or protected adults.

There are two types of regulated work: regulated work with children and regulated work with adults. In the context of equestrianism only RDA volunteers (session assistants and instructors) will do regulated work with both groups, all others will only do regulated work with children.

Regulated Work

The PVG Act defines a child as an individual under 18 years of age. A protected adult is defined as an individual aged 16 or over who is provided with (and thus receives) a type of care, support or welfare service. Protected adult is therefore a service based definition and avoids the labelling of adults on the basis of their having a specific condition or disability. RDA groups meet the criteria of providing a “Welfare Service”.

Regulated Work with Children

This includes the following activities that may apply to the equestrian environment:

  • Teaching, instructing, training or supervising children.

  • Being in sole charge of children.

  • Unsupervised contact with children under arrangements made by a responsible person.

Regulated Work with Adults

This includes the following activities that may apply to the equestrian environment:

  • Caring for protected adults.

  • Teaching, instructing, training or supervising protected adults.

  • Being in sole charge of protected adults.

  • Providing assistance, advice or guidance to a protected adult or particular protected adults which relates to physical or emotional well-being, education or training






Every child or young person should be safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included. These eight indicators overlap and connect to each other offering a picture of a young person’s wellbeing. They can identify challenges which are being faced by an individual and this can enable a conversation to begin which seeks to resolve these challenges.


In the equestrian industry we have a responsibility to all young people within our sport and the eight wellbeing indicators should be at the forefront when delivering any activity.  All individuals whether a coach, parent, organiser or volunteer should have awareness of these indicators so there is a common understanding of wellbeing within our sport.


The indicators, from the SHANARRI Wheel, detailed here with bullet points explaining how they fit within the equestrian industry. These are only examples and each Member Body will be able to develop their own ways to ensure the SHANARRI indicators are delivered.



Every Child or Young Person is protected from abuse, neglect or harm at home, at school, in the community, at our sporting events and in our sports clubs.


  • Deliver events and training with clear outlined goals so individuals are safe

  • Ensure participants are know who the safeguarding officer is if an issue arises



Every Child or Young Person should have the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health. They need access to suitable healthcare and support in learning to make healthy, safe choices about their lifestyle.


  • At residential camps ensure that participants are eating and drink, this is particularly important in hot weather

  • Have awareness of any changes in behaviour as this could indicate a health issue



Our Children and Young People will be supported and guided in learning and in the development of skills, confidence and self-esteem through our sport.


  • Clear goal setting to give realistic goals that enable a young person to see their progress at all levels

  • Having a log book with records progress through qualifications or competitions enabling self-reflection on performance



Our coaches and parents with volunteers will endeavour to provide a nurturing environment that will support confidence and develop self-esteem through performance and participation for our Children and Young People.


  • Member Bodies should seek to develop a supportive environment where each individual feels valued



Children and Young People will have opportunities to take part in our activities and sport, which contribute to healthy growth and development in physical and mental wellbeing.


  • Equestrianism is by its own nature an active sport which delivers exercise.  This can also be supplemented with other forms of training for example swimming and running for tetrathlon competitors.

  • Care must also be taken to set activity levels correctly for example coaches should not expect the same ability from a six year old as a 12 year old.



Our Children and Young People will have the opportunity to be heard and involved in decisions that affect them within our sport and clubs.


  • Seek ways in which young people can feedback on their programme.  This could be a members representative, anonymous comment cards or an annual review



We encourage our Children and Young People to seek opportunities take active and responsible roles at in our sport, and where necessary, having appropriate guidance and supervision, to be involved in decisions that affect them.


  • Equestrian sport offers the opportunity to encourage responsibility in the for of caring for a horse.  At residential camps young people can look after their own horse and have sole responsibility for the care given

  • Older members could supervise feeding at camp or deliver a short stable management session. This opens the doorway to developing new coaches



Our sport wants to create an environment that supports those affected by social, educational, physical and economic inequalities, to be accepted as part of the community in which they participate.


  • Deliver a range of sessions which enable all individuals to achieve according to their strengths. Have different competitions, not just the Olympic disciplines, for example:

    • Who can draw a field with hazards

    • Tack cleaning

    • Plaiting a horse’s mane