Biosecurity During Horse Events

Biosecurity During Horse Events

Photo: Megan Arszman

With the equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) myeloencephalopathy outbreak in May and June, biosecurity among show horses has been front page news. Summer months are prime time for large organized trail rides, horse shows, sales, parades, and other events where horses congregate. The one show in Utah from which horses returned to multiple states and spread the EHV-1 virus illustrates very well how rapidly horses travel and can spread disease.

Following are biosecurity measures to implement when horses are congregated at events:

  • Minimize nose-to-nose contact between horses. Do not allow another horse to sniff your horse's nose "to get acquainted";
  • Do not share equipment for use with other people's horses. Alternatively, if you loan out any of you equipment, keep it away from your horses until it is properly disinfected;
  • Do not use common water troughs. Bring your own water and feed buckets;
  • Avoid common-use areas such as tack stalls used to groom and tack multiple horses. If these common areas must be used, use cross-tie horses instead of tying them to a post, wall, or other nose-to-nose contact areas;
  • Halters, lead shanks, and face grooming towels should be used on and restricted to one animal only;
  • Wash your hands or use a 62% ethyl alcohol hand gel before and after handling or riding other people's horses;
  • Early disease detection is paramount, especially contagious infectious diseases. Take horses' temperatures twice daily (morning and night) during the event and for two weeks after returning to the stable;
  • Quarantine horses when they return to the barn or training facility after an event; and
  • Clean and disinfect horse trailers before they're used by other horses.

These precautions involve more work, more time, and more awareness on owner’s parts; however, they will help reduce the risk of horses contracting multiple viral and bacterial diseases while on the road.

CONTACT: Roberta Dwyer, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVPM, (859) 218-1122,, Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky

This is an excerpt from Equine Disease Quarterly, funded by underwriters at Lloyd's, London, brokers, and their Kentucky agents.

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More information on Gluck Equine Research Center and UK's Equine Initiative.

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Equine Disease Quarterly

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