COVID-19 resources for Minnesota horse owners

University of Minnesota Extension
Farm Forum

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of the equine industry. In Minnesota, several organizations have united to bring guidance to equine-related activities in Minnesota while under the Governor’s “Stay at Home” order. The unification of these organizations and the equine industry is critical as we collectively work to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 while providing essential care for Minnesota’s equines, as well as the physical and mental health and well-being to equine owners.

We encourage owners to respect and follow guidelines, rules, and decisions made by private barn, facility, and industry owners intended to safeguard their essential employees and ownership.

What is not permissible during Minnesota’s “Stay-at-Home” Restrictions? Livestock exhibitions, fairs, camps, clinics, shows, and group lessons are prohibited during a “Stay at Home” order.

What is permissible during Minnesota’s “Stay-at-Home” Restrictions? Equine owners, barn managers and service providers are permitted to engage in activity that supports equine health and maintenance, including: feeding, stall cleaning and manure management, turn-out and exercise, riding and training, breeding and reproduction, veterinary care, and farrier care. Industries that support agriculture and the equine industry are also allowed to operate, including, but not limited to hay suppliers, feed stores, and fuel providers.

All equine-related activities should be conducted while following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, including: stay at home when sick, frequent hand washing, not touching your face, clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment, maintaining a 6’ distance between others (i.e. social distancing), and a 14-day quarantine if diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19.

Considerations horse facilities may implement to effectively follow CDC guidelines include: scheduling and staggered appointments to avoid person to person contact, limiting time at facilities, sanitation of commonly touched surfaces and shared equipment between uses, and allowing only owners at facilities. If facilities cannot effectively follow CDC guidelines, facilities may choose to close to all but “essential employees” who are responsible for daily care and maintenance of horses. Owners should respect and follow guidelines set forth by private facilities.

Obligation to care for equines is unchanged during “Stay-at-Home” restrictions. Owners and caretakers are obligated to provide basic care for all livestock and horses including feed, water, shelter, veterinary and related care, and turn-out during the “Stay-at-Home” restrictions.

For a list frequently ask questions and responses specific to Minnesota, visit tinyurl.com/vm2y3el.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (tinyurl.com/qqwfac5) has excellent information about COVID-19 and human health, these organizations have compiled information that should be of use for horse owners, including Minnesota Board of Animal Health (www.bah.state.mn.us/covid-19/), American Horse Council (www.horsecouncil.org/covid-19-resouces/), Equine Disease Communication Center (tinyurl.com/rchhn3r), and American Association of Equine Practitioners (tinyurl.com/tmztns9).

Information regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. These guidelines were compiled on March 29, 2020 and will be updated as conditions warrant. The following organizations and their representatives contributed to these guidelines: University of Minnesota Extension (Krishona Martinson), Minnesota Board of Animal Health (Courtney Wheeler and Brian Hoefs), Minnesota Horse Council (Allison Eklund and Tom Tweeten), Horse Welfare Advocate (Stacy Bettison), and Horse service providers (Kim Otterson).