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Preventing Disease While at Equestrian Events

Posted by Trevor Venegas on

Have you ever gotten sick while traveling? Main transportation hubs like airports and train stations are known to be breeding sites for bacteria that can cause disease. These diseases can range from the common cold to something life threatening and if your horse travels to lots of different shows and events, he or she is at risk of catching disease too. Large equine shows and events can be just as dangerous for horses as airports and train stations are for humans if the proper care is not taken.

The most common diseases present at large horse shows and events are Influenza, Equine Herpesvirus, Strangles, and Salmonella. Two to four weeks before traveling, you should talk to your veterinarian about these diseases and the symptoms of each so you can recognize them if they surface. You should also ask your vet for recommendations on temporary vets located in the area you will be traveling to. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent those diseases.

First, start by cleaning your trailer. Remove all of the bedding and scrub all of the surfaces with water and antibacterial soap; you may even consider using a specialized disinfectant. Once this has been completed, you are ready to head out on the road.

After you arrive at the event, limit your horse’s contact with other horses as much as possible. Do not borrow or share tack and gear with other people and horses. Also, avoid using common water and feeders by bringing your own and discourage other people from touching your horse. If you must handle someone else’s horse or their tack, be sure to use hand sanitizer after doing so to avoid the transfer of germs.

Next, it is best to set up your own stall and refrain from using community stalls while at the event. If this is not an option, cleaning and disinfecting the stall your horse will be using should be a priority. Then, remove all communal objects like water and feed buckets and replace them with your own. 

Throughout the course of the event, check your horse’s temperature periodically to make sure he or she is staying healthy while also monitoring their appetite and water intake.

After the event, segregate returning horses from others for at least five to seven days. Even if the returning horse is not sick, this will prevent the spread of any germs he or she may be carrying. Also, be sure to care for your other horses before handling those that traveled.

Essentially, to keep your horse healthy while travelling, take all the steps you would normally take to keep yourself from getting sick. Keep all surfaces clean and disinfected and segregate your horse from others while at the event. Once you arrive back home, keep your horse away from your other horses for at least a week to stop the spread of any diseases your traveled horse may be carrying. Follow these tips while traveling for your next event and your horse will stay strong and healthy for the duration of your trip and for many years to come.

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