As pandemic fatigue settles in for the long winter, there is some good news for equestrians. A study out of the UK found that the risk of catching Covid-19 from saddles and other tack is “likely to be low.”
The study came from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LTSM), where a team of researchers tested 10 types of sporting equipment ranging from a polyurethane saddle to a football, rugby ball, tennis ball, red and white cricket balls, and cricket gloves.
According to the paper, “at one minute, SARS-CoV-2 virus was recovered in only seven of the ten types of equipment with the low dose inoculum, one at five minutes and none at 15 minutes.”
Dr. Emily Adams, who led the study, said that the researchers determined that the risk of transmission from sports gear was low, compared to increased risk of transmission during physical interactions with other people during the sports play itself. This would include team sports and those with more contact like football.
The researchers also found that the virus lasted the longest on the polyurethane saddle, but it was still only a few minutes for lower viral loads, and the evidence suggests that more porous materials such as leather may be even less friendly to the virus.
As we are all too aware, the public health policies have curbed many sporting activities, riding lessons among them, which have resulted in fears of riding stables going out of business as they struggle to feed school horses. Trail riding establishments have also implemented sanitization protocols to offset public fears about virus spread.
There’s also the added stress to our mental and physical well-being when we’re not able to participate in our chosen sports.
“This has been a really important study for us to be involved in given the important role that sport plays in our society both for players and spectators,” Dr. Adams concluded. “I hope that our results may lead to appropriate policy changes and practices that may help in building trust amongst players that sports practices are safe post-lockdown.”