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 your horse. By bringing your horse to a new barn, arena or campsite, the risk of disease exposure is increased. Conversely, you can increase the risk of disease exposure to other horses at the facility when returning from a trip.
There are many biosecurity practices owners can take on their farm or when traveling with a horse. The following are a few biosecurity tips for before you leave, while away, and when you return from a trip.
Before You Leave
- 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.
While You’re 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.
When You Return
- Clean and disinfect your horse trailer.
- 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.
Remember, an ounce of prevention can help keep a horse healthy throughout the trail riding and show season.
Written by Krishona Martinson, PhD, and Abby Neu, MS, University of Minnesota. This and other horse nutrition articles can be found at http://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse/nutrition/.