Written by Anna Hellman

The first word that should come to mind when bringing a new/sick/recently-traveled horse to your farm is “quarantine”. If you Quarantine signare bringing a horse across state lines, quarantine is definitely a requirement. As a horse owner, you want to make sure your horses are as protected as possible.

The Purpose. Quarantine is used to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Communicable diseases are those diseases that are easily transferred and can be transmitted from one horse to another.  Communicable diseases can be spread in a variety of ways depending on the type of infectious diseases. Some diseases are spread due to direct contact, insects/animals, nasal discharge, airborne spores, contaminated water/feed, etc. In order to prevent against the spread of all these disease transmitters, correct quarantine is absolutely essential. Simply placing a horse in an end stall for a few days is useless. You are still using the same hose to fill up the water buckets, the staff is walking through all the stalls when cleaning them, and when the horses sneeze/cough, the spores fill the air. So here are a few tips in order to make sure you are quarantining your horse as safely as possible.

Pre-Quarantine: Vaccinations. Before any horse is allowed on the property, the owner should double check that the horses’ vaccination records are up to date. It is important to know the diseases common to your area and how regularly the horses should be vaccinated/receive booster shots.

Separate Location & Turnout. On your property, it is necessary to have a quarantine location that is far away from your barn. Many owners prefer to have a run-in shed because it can provide storage for separate supplies. The run-in shed must be able to be closed off in order to contain any possible diseases. Since horses are quarantined for typically 2-3 weeks, it is also necessary to have a paddock large enough that the horse can appropriately move about.

Separate Feed & Water Sources. Having separate sources of food and water is essential to stopping the spread of disease. All buckets, hoses, and scoopers must be kept separate from other equipment. The quarantine location should have its own water pump and the feed should be stored in a closed-off section of the run-in shed.

Proper Care. When owners/staff transition from taking care of the quarantined horses to non-quarantined horses, they must change their clothes, boots, and wash their hands. Some horse owner’s also shower as a precaution to minimize the spread of additional germs. It is also essential that owners/staff do not share any equipment with the horse in quarantines, including feed/water buckets, tack, and grooming supplies.

Post-Quarantine: Sanitation. In the case that a horse does have an infectious disease, sanitation is an absolute requirement. Disinfectant must be used everywhere, including on the floors and the walls. If mats are in the stalls, they must be removed, sanitized, and the floor of the stall must be disinfected as well. If you are ever building a quarantine location, consider making the floors concrete and using mats on top. Concrete is the easiest to disinfect and clean.

It is a hassle to quarantine a horse. It requires a large amount of effort with unpredictable outcomes. I have never heard someone say they regretted putting their horse in quarantine, when that horse turned out to have a communicable disease. The extra work is always worth it if it means maintaining the health of all your horses.


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