Officials Remind Horse Owners to Practice Biosecurity

Officials Remind Horse Owners to Practice Biosecurity

Use your own water and feed buckets when traveling, and avoid letting your horse drink from a communal water trough.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) is reminding owners to take steps to keep their horses healthy by practicing simple biosecurity measures.

Such measures are designed to reduce the risk of introduction and transmission of an infectious disease agent, such as equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1). Although Texas horses have not been implicated, EHV-1 has recently been found in other states.

Any time horses congregate at events, their chances of being exposed to an infectious disease agent increase. Potentially dangerous pathogens can be brought to and spread at an event by horses, people, domestic animals other than horses (such as dogs), vehicles, equipment, feed, waste, water, and more.

The TAHC recommends owners follow some simple guidelines to help minimize your horse's risk of contracting a disease:

  • Consult your veterinarian to establish an appropriate vaccination program for your horse, which might include inoculations for ailments such as EHV-1 and equine influenza.
  • If using a stall, clean, disinfect, and rebed it before allowing your horse access.
  • Do not allow your horse direct contact with unknown horses, especially nose to nose contact.
  • Use your own water and feed buckets, avoid letting your horse drink from a communal water trough, and fill water buckets from a faucet.
  • Do not share grooming equipment or tack.
  • Avoid petting and touching other horses in order to minimize the risk of transferring a disease back to your horse. If you must handle other horses, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before touching your horse again.
  • Avoid letting strangers pet your horse, especially if they have horses of their own.
  • Clean and disinfect your equipment (boots, tack, grooming supplies, buckets, etc.) before returning it to your barn to help reduce the risk of transporting an infectious agent back home. Consider washing and disinfecting your trailer when you return home.
  • When possible, isolate your returning horses for two weeks. If that's not feasible, at least prevent nose-to-nose contact with other horses for about two weeks.

Additionally, consult your veterinarian concerning these and other steps you can follow which could help reduce your horse's risk of acquiring an infectious disease while traveling.

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