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Horse biosecurity tips for peak riding season

Quick facts

  • Biosecurity measures are key to keeping your horse healthy while traveling during the show and trail season.
  • Vaccinating your horse, keeping equipment and facilities clean and avoiding contact with other horses are all good biosecurity practices.

What is biosecurity?

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, you’re increasing their risk of disease exposure. Conversely, you can increase the risk of disease exposure to other horses at your barn when returning your horse from a trip.

Preparing and following a biosecurity plan is key to preventing disease in your horse and other horses at your barn.

Practicing biosecurity

Horse trailer
Clean and disinfect your trailer after traveling to and from different horse facilities.

There are many biosecurity practices you can take on your farm or when you’re traveling with your horse. Remember, an ounce of prevention can help keep your horse healthy throughout the trail and show season. The following are a few biosecurity tips for before you leave, while you’re 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.
    • 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.

When you return

  • 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.
  • Clean and disinfect your horse trailer.

Authors: Krishona Martinson, Extension horse specialist, and Abby Neu Schuft, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2021

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