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Horse Facts and Tips
First Posted: Oct 14, 2011
Oct 15, 2011

Quarantine and Horses

Here are some instances when horses should be quarantined for a short period of time:

  • New horse to barn
  • New brood mare to brood mare heard--extreme care
  • Sick horse
  • Sales barn
  • Horse returning from an equine medical facility
  • Competition horse that may have been exposed to a contagious agent
  • Require a fecal count on new horse before turning out with others
  • No horse should be allowed to come to your barn if it does not have a recent Coggins.

How are diseases spread?

  • Secretions
  • Air born
  • Tack
  • Watering devices
  • Feed buckets
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Hoses
  • You--your hands, clothes, foot wear, etc.
  • By tractors, auto tires, etc.

Clearly it is impossible to stop all pathogens. However, thoughtful and careful handling around a sick animal, and attention to detail, etc., can certainly cut down on the transfer of diseases at the barn. Plan ahead and minimize risks.

  • Keep current on necessary (core) vaccines
  • Check with your vet about the area your horse may be living
  • Keep down insects such as flies, mosquitoes, ticks, etc.
  • Keep down rodent populations
  • Keep competition horses and on-property horses separate
  • Monitor show type horses after they return from competitions. Take their temperatures and be mindful of any changes upon their return.
  • Keep old and young horses separate in turnout. Young horses are more susceptible to illness.

How Does One Care for A Quarantined Horse?

  • Work with your vet on how to proceed
  • Separate barn if possible for isolation
  • Separate paddock with a shelter and its own water source
  • Portable pen or perhaps a separate area within an electric fenced area. Can be set up temporarily.
  • Keep equipment separate--contaminated equipment transfers disease
  • Anyone coming to the farm needs to know how to minimize spreading disease from one horse to another or one area to another.
  • Designate separate people to take care of sick horses. Do not let them handle the healthy ones and visa versa.
  • Work with well horses first and sick horses last
  • No communal water, food, or equipment including brooms, pitch forks, etc.
  • Wear protective clothing when attending to sick horses. Remove it immediately, place it in a covered container, then wash and sanitize it.
  • Wear protective covers such as plastic on your footwear. After attending the sick horse, throw the protective covers away in a safe manner.
  • Wash your hands often from one horse to another.
  • Wash your hands and use disinfectant when leaving the sick area. Be vigilant about cross contamination!
  • Do not spread manure or any type of waste material including bedding in the pasture from a sick horse
  • Tractors and car tires can also spread disease if they come in contact with the pathogens from the sick horse

"Adding to the Herd

Bringing a new horse into an existing herd is a common way infectious diseases come onto a farm. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs cites three important factors to minimize risk when introducing a new horse:

1. The protection you have given the resident horses with proper vaccination;
2. The source of purchased horses, including how they are transported to the farm;
3. The method you will use to introduce the new horses to the rest of the herd.

If someone expresses interest in moving a horse to your barn, Nathan Slovis, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, CHT, internal medicine specialist at Hagyard Equine Medicine Institute in Lexington, Ky., recommends you first send that person a list of your stable rules and protocols. He also emphasizes sending a disease questionnaire that asks the horse owner 10-15 questions, such as, 'Where is the horse coming from? Has there been any instance of disease on that farm? Has the horse been ill recently? Does the horse travel a lot to shows? Is the horse coming from a hospital setting?' If you are new to the boarding scene, share the answers with your veterinarian to help determine if this is a higher-risk animal. The answers do not necessarily mean you won't take the horse; rather, they mean you might wait before allowing the horse to come on the farm or you might accept the horse, but put quarantine protocol into place."

Creating a Horse Quarantine

How Long Do Viruses and Bacterial Live Outside the Horse's Body?

There is no one answer for this question. Pathogens have different requirements for their survival. Discuss this with your vet!

For More Information:

Preventing Disease Spread - Personal Hygiene and Disinfectants around Horse Barns

Horse Facts and Tips