Horse boarding operations during COVID-19 pandemic

horse in stable

As an owner or manager of an equine facility with public exposure, it is imperative to take necessary precautions to protect everyone from the potential impact of COVID-19 and prevent its spread. Taking these precautions will involve a change of routine. As you initiate these precautions some of the things to consider pursuant to CDC guidelines:

Incorporate social-distancing techniques
  • Limit the number of personnel at your facility at any one time to ensure physical distancing and implement a schedule to limit the number of individuals at the barn at any one time.
  • Limit access to essential personnel such as veterinarians, equine caretakers, trainers and horse owners.
  • Limit non-essential persons such as, friends, and family members from using your facility.
  • Do not allow access to your facility to anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19, or who has been exposed to a person with symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, or fever). View the CDC’s COVID-19 symptoms at
  • All individuals must stay six feet apart and you may want to require everyone to wear face masks.
  • Instruct riders to maintain a minimum space barrier of at least six feet from others at all times.
Adopt biosecurity practices
  • Require washing stations or hand sanitizer for all entering and leaving your premises.
  • To reduce the chances of spread, all individuals should wear a cloth face covering while on your premises.
  • Individuals should touch only the equipment and supplies necessary for completing the tasks of caring for and exercising the specific horse(s).
  • Disinfect all surfaces and frequently touched items such as gate latches, stall door handles, light switches, feed scoops, hose ends, and spray nozzles, cross tie snaps, pitchforks, and wheelbarrows. Also do this after any contact with personnel.
  • Clean any communal leather tack daily with tack cleaner.
  • Prohibit the shared use of helmets, grooming supplies, tack and other equipment between individuals. Any equipment that must be shared should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
  • Utilize the CDC COVID-19 disinfecting guidelines to minimize virus spread.
  • Provide hand sanitizing stations and washing and sanitizing stations throughout your facility such as arena entrance, wash racks, and tack room entrance.
  • Although there is no evidence that horses can contract or become ill from COVID-19, practice good hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or using a >60% alcohol hand sanitizer after touching a horse, communal areas, or communal equipment to prevent environmental spread of the virus. Hand sanitizer is not as effective as soap and water, so only use when there is no soap and water available and hands are not visibly soiled.
  • Any shared barn items such as pitchforks, wheelbarrows, hoses and the like should be off limits to the public.
  • Promote fresh air circulation by opening doors to barns and arenas.
  • Even after restrictions are lifted, sanitizing protocols should be kept in place.
Veterinary care, communication and equine health
  • With the shortage of personal protective equipment across the country, veterinarians and veterinary clinics may be reducing nonessential visits.
  • Communicate proactively with veterinarians to determine how to handle a veterinary emergency under current physical distancing guidelines. Discuss what urgent veterinary health care issues might come up during the emergency response period and how to address (or postpone) them while adhering to current physical distancing guidelines.
  • Be proactive with individual animal health and nutrition to prevent disease occurrence.
  • Segregate new animals entering the farm and any animals showing signs of illness such as a fever, nasal discharge, cough, or diarrhea.
Managing staff, students, volunteers and boarders
  • Utilize signage / poster to communicate important COVID-19 information to boarders and staff. The CDC has several free posters (links to them are included at the end of this document) that can be download.
  • Utilize this downloadable Covid-19 Barn Safety poster from the American Association of Equine Practitioners to heighten awareness.
  • Display these posters at conspicuous places such as gate entrances and other prominent areas throughout your facility.
  • Require monitoring of health.
    • Not come to work or visit your facility if they are feeling ill or experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, coughing, or unusual shortness of breath.
    • Do not visit the facility if any of the following situations apply:
      • Are immune compromised
      • Are ill
      • Have been exposed to someone with a respiratory illness in the last 14 days
  • Continually monitor the COVID-19 situation and be able to make adjustments so that you can provide a safe environment for your staff, volunteers, students and boarders.

This information is intended to only provide guidance related to lessoning the risk of spreading COVID-19 and not aimed at providing any suggestions for horse boarding operations per se.

CDC COVID-19 Posters


horse in stable
This "document” is intended for general information purposes and should not be construed as advice or opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. The content of this document is made available on an “as is” basis, without warranty of any kind. This document cannot be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedure or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. Markel does not guarantee that this information is or can be relied on for compliance with any law or regulation, assurance against preventable losses, or freedom from legal liability. This publication is not intended to be legal, underwriting, or any other type of professional or technical advice. Persons requiring advice should consult an independent adviser or trained professional. Markel does not guarantee any particular outcome and makes no commitment to update any information herein, or remove any items that are no longer accurate or complete. Furthermore, Markel does not assume any liability to any person or organization for loss or damage caused by or resulting from any reliance placed on this content.  
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