So what do we do?The good news is that as of now there is no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 from humans to animals. The bad news is that we still need to be extremely diligent in protecting ourselves. As of now, the CDC recommends social distancing, as well as washing your hands multiple times a day. While we can’t necessarily stay locked away at home, we can still restrict our social interactions when not at the barn, and thus decreasing the likelihood of contracting COVID-19. After quite a bit of research on the CDC’s expectations to counter human transmission, I looked into quarantine protocols for equine related viruses. Tufts University has excellent guidelines that are available online for equine related viruses and how to contain them within your barn. I’d like to believe a mixture of these parameters can help every barn keep COVID-19 at bay and ensure everyone that keeps the wheels turning stays happy and healthy.
“I’d like to believe a mixture of these parameters can help every barn keep Covid-19 at bay and ensure everyone that keeps the wheels turning stays happy and healthy.”
1) Allocate Everything:
Down to pitchforks, wheelbarrows, feed & water buckets, grooming boxes and supplies, horses, tack, paddocks, grooming bays & wash stalls. The more we can limit the amount of people cross contaminating the surfaces we touch multiple times a day, the less risk we have of spreading the virus if a particular team member has contracted COVID-19, but may not be showing any symptoms yet.
2) Restrict Outside Traffic Flow:
Most places in the U.S. are down to 50% capacity or no gatherings of 10 or more people. Limiting the amount of people in and out of the barn will significantly decrease the risk of contamination. Try no group lessons, scheduling clients at different times, or enforcing a no extra visitor policy. Whatever you choose, restricting the flow of people in and out of the barn is essential.
3) Sanitize Everything:
Any surface that you can think of that is touched by humans should be sanitized multiple times a day. For example; doors, gates, stall latches, buckets, grooming supplies, pitchforks, wheelbarrows, brooms, etc. According to the CDC most common EPA-registered household disinfectants are appropriate. An alternative is to add 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water to make your own. If you have to be in more than one barn a day, the sanitizing precautions are even more imperative.
4) Limit Transport:
All USEF and FEI sanctioned events have been postponed for 30 days (effective March 16, 2020.) Unless there is a medical emergency, it is highly suggested to keep everyone tucked in at home and to not transport horses or staff unless entirely necessary.
5) Social Distancing
This step takes it out of the barn. When you’re not at the barn, please be diligent about the places you go. It’s just as easy (and cheaper) to grab a case of Corona [beer] at the grocery store and FaceTime with a friend or two at home than taking your chances at the local watering hole. We all deserve a good drink after a long day of work on top of the extra precautions that are necessary in this time, but once someone is exposed it’s all downhill from there and we ALL know what it’s like to have to work short staffed. Protect yourselves.
About the Author
Taylor Czesnik has been involved in the horse world for 20 years. She grew up riding and showing in Colts Neck, NJ and attended Virginia Intermont College. Taylor spent many years as a manager and flat rider for Oasis Show Stables, Kristy Herrera traveling to AA horse shows all over the east coast. She also spent time as a groom for Trade Winds Farm, and has free lanced for many other top professionals. Taylor has since changed roles and is the current Media and Communications Manager for Excel. Along with writing, Taylor loves spending time with her dog, Ellie, riding, and attending horse shows in her free time.