The Stable Secretary Blog

Tips to Remain Safe at the Barn During COVID-19

While most horse farms have settled into a “new normal” for rider safety in a pandemic-filled world, after a year of precaution it’s easy to slowly start letting things slip. Strict protocol is easy to maintain when the outbreak is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but as some states remove mask mandates and the vaccine slowly makes its way to the population, keeping on top of enforcing safety rules around the barn is important.

You’ve heard it a million times, but keeping a safe distance is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19, a virus primarily spread through respiratory droplets. Encourage clients to maintain at least 6 feet between each other and your staff. Consider creating a schedule to keep the number of people in the barn to a minimum while spring weather has your riders flocking to the farm.

If your facility operates on a self-care system, having every owner appoint a backup caregiver (or taking on this role yourself) can help to keep owners feeling under the weather safely at home. Some barns provide full-care boarding, but owners have horses in regular work and may feel tempted to come out and ride even when they aren’t feeling their best. Communicating the importance of staying home when sick, and having a backup plan to keep the horse on schedule with its training, will help encourage riders to stay home when necessary.

While research has shown that the virus has a low risk of surface transmission, it never hurts to keep things a little extra clean. Areas that have a high number of people touching them such as light switches, brooms, etc. should be wiped down periodically. Disinfectants are meant to kill germs on clean surfaces, so scrub commonly touched places with soap and water to remove dirt and grime before disinfecting.

There’s been a lot of debate about the need to wear a mask while riding or working outdoors, but to be the safest you can be, consider wearing a mask at all times when in proximity to others – even in well-ventilated barns.

For individuals like vets or farriers who are responsible for caring for horses across multiple barns daily, the risk of contamination is higher. Try to schedule vet and farrier visits for quieter times at the barn so owners or riders aren’t adding to the list of people the vet or farrier has to come into contact with. Consider having one individual hold horses for the vet or farrier to minimize contact and require both parties to wear a mask and keep their distance (as much as safely possible).

While 2020 saw most shows shutting down for safety, the 2021 season is in full swing in some parts of the country. Travel and busy show-grounds can increase the risk of transmission, so do your research before planning your show schedule and follow all safety precautions required by the show management.

With technology at our fingertips, the horse industry has rapidly adapted over the past year. Virtual shows provide competitors the opportunity to gain experience and receive judge feedback from the safety of their home facility. Barn management apps, such as Stable Secretary, have provided farm owners with a tool to help create schedules for clients visiting the property, manage vet and farrier visits, and keep communication open between staff members.

While the pandemic is still a major concern for those involved in the horse industry, these tips should help you keep your facility operating safely!

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