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During the lockdown phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, equestrian stakeholders faced a dilemma whereby they were required to balance caring for the welfare of horses with adapting to the restrictions imposed to protect public health. The present study investigated the impact of the pandemic on the wellbeing of a sample of industry stakeholders, including horse owners, equine veterinarians, farriers and welfare centre managers (n = 26) using a qualitative methodology. Findings from the interviews indicated that the mental health and wellbeing of veterinarians and horse owners was negatively affected by pandemic-related obstacles to communication and limitations to horse–owner interactions. However, this study also identified several positive outcomes for wellbeing during lockdown resulting from pro-social activities that were engaged with by horse owners to overcome social isolation, the separation of the community and loneliness. These findings provide accounts of ways in which those caring for horses might be challenged during national emergency scenarios, pointing to areas that would benefit from future mental health and wellbeing interventions.
- mental health
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