With the pandemic still in effect around the globe and economies in various stages of reopening/reclosing, it is a great time to consider COVID-19 safety at the barn.
As equestrians, one of our primary concerns is often our horses. Currently, there is no evidence that links the virus that causes COVID-19 with disease in horses. However, there is a virus in the coronavirus family, equine coronavirus (ECoV), which can cause gastrointestinal disease in horses. ECoV causes fever, depression, diarrhea and colic, but it is a variant and NOT the same as the virus that causes COVID-19.
Although our horses are relatively safe during the pandemic, the human portion of the equestrian community is still at risk. Those attending boarding and training barns, and participating in group equestrian activities such as lessons, trail rides, etc., are susceptible to exposure.
We can all do our part to help ensure we remain healthy as a community and help slow the spread by implementing some biosecurity measures at the barn that will benefit both humans and equines.
Designate equipment for each horse and avoid sharing. COVID-19 can be carried on items such as halters and brushes. By limiting these to one horse, the spread of the virus to people can also be limited.
Open windows and doors to allow as much fresh into the barn as possible.
Disinfect equipment and surfaces (e.g. handrails) often. In addition to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19, this is also effective in decreasing the transmission of equine diseases such as equine influenza virus and equine herpes virus.
Prepare and complete records electronically. Paper records or common dry erase boards can be a pathway for viruses to pass between people.
Limit the number of daily visitors to the stables at any one time.
Practice social distancing and consider wearing masks.
Barn employees should take their own temperature twice daily and self-quarantine if they have a fever. Someone else should be designated to take care of the sick person’s responsibilities.
Practice hand washing often, with soap and water, following current guidelines.
By working together as a community, we can do our part to slow the spread, not only for the sake of global health, but so that sooner, rather than later, we might return to life as we knew it before the pandemic, including horse shows and other social events we are currently unable to enjoy.