Biosecurity tips for horse owners

Krishona Martinson and Ab Neu Schuft
University of Minnesota

As horse owners start thinking about the 2020 season, biosecurity should be front and center. Biosecurity refers to a set of practices horse owners can take to prevent and reduce the spread of disease. Biosecurity plans are especially important when traveling to and from different facilities with a horse. By bringing a horse to a new barn, arena or campsite, owners increase their risk of disease exposure.

There are many biosecurity practices owners and managers can take on farm or when traveling with horses. Remember, an ounce of prevention can help keep horses healthy throughout the trail riding and show season. The following are a few biosecurity tips to consider before leaving the farm, while away, and after returning from a trip.

Before leaving

• Work with a veterinarian to keep your horse up-to-date on vaccines.

• Keep sick horses at home. Watch for signs of fever, nasal discharge, and diarrhea.

• Pack cleaning supplies and disinfectants. Diluted bleach (8 ounces of bleach to 1 gallon of water) is an inexpensive disinfectant.

• Don’t place shared hoses inside your horse’s bucket when refilling water.

While away

• When possible, use your own trailer to haul your horse, and avoid having your horse hauled with horses outside your barn.

• Frequently wash your hands with warm, soapy water.

• Clean and disinfect stalls at the show or camp facilities; make sure surfaces are clean and dry before applying disinfectants.

• Don’t share buckets, hay bags, grooming tools, tack or equipment.

• Avoid putting shared hoses in your horse’s water bucket. Disinfect the nozzle and hold the hose above the water bucket when filling buckets.

• Don’t allow horses to have nose-to-nose contact.

• Limit the general public’s contact with your horse, and limit your contact with other horses.

• Don’t hand graze your horse where other horses have grazed.

• Clean and disinfectant your trailer after traveling to and from different horse facilities.

After returning

• Isolate your horse from horses kept at home for 14 days. Monitor your horse daily for signs of fever, nasal discharge, and diarrhea.

• Wash your hands, shower and change your clothes and shoes before working with horses kept at home.

• Disinfect buckets, hay bags, grooming tools, tack, and equipment. If possible, designate items for home-use only and travel-use only.

• Clean and disinfect your horse trailer.