Yard hygiene: What to do if your horse’s yard is under quarantine

Chairman of XLVets Equine, Mark Tabachnik, offers some advice on what to do should the horses at your yard fall victim to a disease. 

You'll be doing the right thing for the horse population by taking contagious diseases seriously.

You'll be doing the right thing for the horse population by taking contagious diseases seriously.

If your yard is put under quarantine, you should ask your vet to work with the yard manager and come up with a plan to eradicate the disease that your yard is suffering from.

Hygiene measures involve the movement of people, vehicles, equipment and horses. People can carry infections onto and out of the yard on their clothes and boots, so it’s important to clean and disinfect boots before leaving every time.

Try not to visit another yard without changing your clothes and washing your hands.

If possible, there should only be one entrance and exit to the yard, and a visitors’ book to allow you to keep a record of the comings and goings.

Vehicles should not be brought onto the yard and the car park should be moved away from where horses are stabled to help prevent both people and their cars spreading disease.

Stop the spread of equine disease 

A yard in quarantine is a depressing time for any horse owner, especially in the summer when you want to be out and about on your horse.

Ultimately you're doing the right thing for the horse population by taking contagious diseases seriously.

Within the yard itself, it’s best to group horses into separate herds during isolation. Put them into three main groups, based on the traffic light system:

High-risk horses – the red group

Horses who were sick or showing signs of disease should be stabled together, away from the rest of the yard.

These are the ones who will be shedding the disease. They should only be handled by a limited number of people, have their own dedicated equipment and this equipment should not move into the rest of the yard.

Medium-risk horses – the amber group

Horses who’ve been in contact with the red group, but aren’t yet showing signs of disease, are in the amber/medium risk group.

They may have been stabled next to a horse from the red group, shared a field or travelled together.

Because of the disease incubation period, it may be 10 to 14 days before you know whether these horses will be affected or not.

If they do become poorly, they can be moved into the red group.

Low-risk horses – the green group

Horses showing no clinical signs and who’ve not been in contact with any sick horses will be in the green/low-risk group.

Again, they should only be handled by someone who is not visiting the red and amber horses, or handled first before that person visits the higher-risk horses.

They should have their own equipment, feed and water to prevent cross-contamination. As horses recover, your vet will be able to run tests to demonstrate that the horse is no longer affected by disease, and make sure they don’t become a disease carrier. 

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