With horse show season in sight, chances are that you and your horse will be traveling off-farm to at least a few shows. And while much of your focus will be on putting in a successful day at each competition, there’s one other very important aspect you need to think about: Biosecurity.
Each year we hear about serious contagious equine diseases making the rounds through the United States. These diseases can leave your horse’s health compromised, and busy showgrounds – especially those where your horse is staying overnight in a barn – are prime situations where your horse may be at risk of picking up a disease.
While you can’t eliminate the risk, you can reduce it with these biosecurity tips for horse shows.
Vaccinate Your Horse
Before show season begins, have your vet out for a wellness exam. During that time, get your Coggins done, and have a discussion with your vet about your showing plans, where in the country your horse will be traveling, and which vaccines he should receive to keep him protected. This is also a good time to take record your horse’s baseline vitals, including his average temperature, his resting heart rate, and his resting respiration rate.
Bring Your Own Supplies
When you’ll be stabling your horse overnight, be sure to bring along all of your own supplies, including water buckets and feed tubs. Using your own supplies helps to minimize the chances of your horse accessing nasal secretions from other horses. Plus, you can disinfect your buckets before and after shows to help prevent the spread of disease.
When it comes time to fill your horse’s water buckets, always hold the hose up out of the bucket. Dropping the hose into the bucker can contaminate the water, since other riders before you may have done the same thing.
Disinfect Your Stall
Once you arrive at the showgrounds, your first task should be to disinfect the stalls where your horse will be staying. Remove any old bedding, then wash the entire stall with dish detergent. Rinse the stall thoroughly, then pour concentrated Lysol plus water disinfectant into a sprayer, like the type you would use in a garden. Spray the mixture all over the stall, and let it dry.
If you have access to portable stall mats, bringing these along can help to make the stall floor more comfortable for your horse, while also serving as a barrier between your horse and a dirt floor, which is more difficult to disinfect.
Keep Your Horse Separated
When you’re out and about on the show grounds, keep your horse separated from others. Don’t let him socialize by touching noses, and keep him from drinking out of water buckets or tubs, unless you’ve specifically brought and filled them for him.
Monitor Your Horse
During and after your show, keep a close eye on your horse. Take his temperature daily and monitor him for signs of illness – often, a higher temperature is the first indication you’ll see that your horse isn’t well. If you suspect your horse is getting sick, contact your vet right away to stay ahead of the disease.
Horse shows can be lots of fun, and these biosecurity tips can help you to keep your horse safe and healthy through the show season.