Tips to keep horses safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

Are you taking all the right steps to keep your horses safe during the COVID-19 pandemic? Check out these tips from the ASPCA to make sure!

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to affect humans across the globe, the ASPCA is encouraging horse caretakers to include their horses and other equines in their emergency plans“The COVID-19 crisis may make some horse owners unable to fulfill their responsibilities due to illness or other emergencies,” says Dr. Emily Weiss, Vice President of ASPCA Equine Welfare. “The steps below will help ensure their horses have strong safety nets if they need them. It will also preserve space and resources at local shelters and rescue organizations for other equines who don’t have safety nets in place and may have nowhere else to go.”

1. Establish your network

  • Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding facilities that are accepting applicants during COVID-19, and check their current availability.
  • Identify the name and contact of a caregiver willing to take in your horse and any other animals in an emergency situation.
  • Team up with other horse caretakers to pool your resources, including sharing trailer space and hay.
  • Set up a phone tree/buddy system with other nearby horse caretakers and local farms for any urgent needs, including feeding in place. If feeding in place, see if that caretaker can also help with your other animals including dogs, cats, and other farmed animals.

2. Create a “COVID-19” emergency kit

Make a portable emergency kit that includes the following:

  • Contact information for both yourself and a confirmed emergency caretaker
  • Feeding and care instructions including food quantity, approved treats and medication dosages, if necessary, along with clearly labeled food and medicine containers, if possible.
  • Tack checklist
  • Paperwork proving your ownership of your horse (branding papers, microchip registration, photos)
  • Vet records, including a current Coggins
  • Equine first aid kit

3. Ready your horses

  • Microchip your horse as a permanent form of identification. In an emergency, you can place an ID clip or braid a luggage tag in his mane or tail or paint your phone number on his side with non-toxic paint.
  • Get horses accustomed to wearing a halter.
  • Ensure your trailer is road ready and practice loading onto a trailer under calm conditions so horses are on autopilot should they need to relocate during an emergency.
  • Stock enough food and supplies including fuel, feed, shavings and medication and check delivery services to ensure needed items will arrive on time.
  • Contact your veterinarian in advance should your animal have an ongoing issue, emergency, or need of a routine checkup. Your veterinarian may not be able to provide some services and/or their availability may be limited during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Schedule your farrier well in advance since they may have limited availability.

Your horses might not be directly affected by COVID-19, but it can’t hurt to have an appropriate plan in place should emergency circumstances arise. A little extra preparation means a lot less stress – for you and your equine companions!