You arrive at the show grounds the evening before the show begins. It’s late and you’re tired. You just want to get everything unloaded. But could you be putting your horse at risk just by putting him in a stall? The answer is yes.
It would be easy to assume that the facility where you are showing automatically disinfects the stalls at the end of each show. Fortunately, or unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, you should assume that the stall you are about to place your horse in has not been sanitized. What biosecurity measures can you take to keep your horse protected?
Vaccinations. Biosecurity measures begin at home. Make certain that your horse’s annual vaccinations are up to date before you ever head out. These include both core vaccines and any others recommended by your veterinarian. Your horse will already be under stress from travel and competition putting his immune system at risk for attack. Vaccinations can help to protect him. As an aside, don’t take your horse out if he is exhibiting any signs of illness or has an elevated temperature.
Disinfect stalls. Following the directions on the container, use Lysol™ or another disinfectant to thoroughly scrub down you horses stall then repeat. If your horse is more than ready to get off the trailer, consider hand walking him after the scrubbing while allow the stall to air dry.
Limit contact. This tip applies to both people as well as other horses. Show goers, particularly those unfamiliar with horses, may inadvertently aid in the spread of germs as they walk from stall to stall petting the horses. In addition, you should limit your horse’s contact with other horses. Just because a neighbor’s horse doesn’t look sick doesn’t mean that he isn’t.
Individualize equipment. Never share tack, grooming equipment, blankets, buckets etc. Resist the urge to allow your horse a drink from a communal watering trough. If any of these must be shared, be certain to sterilize it.
Monitor. Throughout the show, monitor your horse for signs of developing illness including an elevated temperature, or physical signs of illness ranging from being off his feed to a snotty nose.
Practice good hygiene. Wash your hand after handling one horse before going on to another.
By following these tips you’ll be well on your way to keeping your horse safe at horse shows.