Are Your Horses Ready for You to be Quarantined?

We at The Horse are used to disease outbreaks of the equine variety. We post content continuously about preventing disease spread and how to effectively quarantine sick horses. We have a plan for that. But what about outbreaks of the human variety? I personally hadn’t considered an instance where I could be the quarantined one.

As news about the novel coronavirus affecting humans (SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease now known as COVID-19) started to circulate, it caught my attention. I’ve sat through enough equine epidemiology lectures to know that respiratory diseases spread rapidly and exponentially. My sister, who works as a nurse in public schools, kept me up to date on information she had before the media picked it up and encouraged me to prepare for the worst-case scenario. With my busy work and personal schedules, I didn’t have time to panic about a potential pandemic, but I did text my hay guy to come replenish my inventory, which was running low. With two more tons in the barn, I went about my life.

Then Northern Italy went on lockdown and my husband noted we were almost out of coffee. I considered what a caffeine-free 14-day quarantine would mean and decided we should probably do some prepping. Off to Costco we went (and, yes, our Costco was out of toilet paper, too). Now, as the situation worsens, I’m asking myself: What essentials do my horses need in case my husband and I get quarantined or sick?

  • Ann, my off-track Thoroughbred, is in the middle of treatment for Grade 3 ulcers. She’s still showing (albeit less severe) clinical signs as she nears the end of a 28-day GastroGard (omeprazole) course. I’m pretty sure we will need to extend her treatment, so I stocked up on more just in case.
  • While I have plenty of orchardgrass hay, I’m short on Ann’s alfalfa, which she also needs to keep her tummy happy. Two additional bales should get me through.
  • I’m nearing the end of my last ration balancer bag. One bag lasts my horses 14 days, but I might as well get one or two extra.
  • My horses (all barefoot) are due for trims soon. Fortunately, I’ve been learning to trim and have new nippers and a rasp. If my farrier can’t make it, I’m comfortable doing light maintenance trims.
  • Marathon, my retired gelding, gets tender-footed at times, especially during wet spring weather. I checked to make sure his hoof boots are in working order, and they are good to go if he needs them.
  • Both of my mares are on altrenogest to manage their heat cycles. I have plenty to last through the spring, but I’m low on the protective nitrile gloves I need to administer it to them safely. Add a box to the shopping list.
  • While stall bedding isn’t crucial (I have a cushion mat system and runs built off my stalls, and only two of my four horses come in at night), I should use enough to at least add a little extra cushion. For two weeks, I need six bags.
  • If I can’t get to the vet (or my vet can’t get to me), I have a fully stocked emergency kit, which includes essential prescription medications—oral flunixin meglumine (Banamine), phenylbutazone (bute), and firocoxib (Equioxx)—that I can use at my veterinarian’s direction. I also have full boxes of bandaging materials and poultice pads.
  • The likelihood of me becoming sick and hospitalized is extremely low, but I need to update and post my feed chart in the off chance someone else needs to feed.
  • Water shouldn’t be an issue during this outbreak, but for other types of emergencies it’s important to have an alternative source of clean water for your horses. In case I do get sick and am not up to the extra physical exertion of filling troughs later, I’m keeping them topped off now.

Well, that’s what’s on my list. Those of you who board your horses or run large barns might have other needs if a human quarantine occurs. What are you doing to prepare to keep your horses happy and healthy during this pandemic? Leave your comments below!