Biosecurity for Trail Riders
from Friends of Shimek State Forest Equestrian Trails
Each year we face yet another equine disease threat. Currently EHM is moving about in adjoining states and in Iowa, making us all uneasy about keeping our horses safe when out on the trails. The following Biosecurity Guidelines have been prepared to help you avoid infecting your horse with a serious disease while out trail riding.
• Prepare before you go. Identify problematic infectious diseases in your area and in the area where you will be traveling and discuss preparation with your veterinarian, including obtaining vaccinations your horse should have, worming, Health Certificate and Coggins test. Do not take your horse to Shimek or anywhere there are other horses if he has a fever, shows any signs of illness or if you know he has been exposed to any horse with a contagious disease.
•Watch out for means of indirect contamination. If camping, BEFORE unloading your horse, be sure to remove all manure/bedding left at your site or in the horse stall you will be using. Disinfect the tie rail and any surfaces your horse may touch. If day riding, tie to your own trailer. (Bleach – water solution is good for this.)
• Don't share equipment. If you must lend tack or grooming tools, be sure to disinfect them before using again.
• Keep individual alcohol wipes handy in your trailer and in a pocket. Remember, something as simple as petting a dog that has just rolled in manure or used bedding can contaminate your hands.
• Horse trailers hauling horses from different locations should be cleaned out and disinfected after each transport. Once all organic material is removed from the trailer, a solution of two percent bleach and water is effective against most equine disease organisms. Disinfect the tires too.
• Restrict horse-horse contact: Keep your horse two horse-lengths away from any other horse even when stopped along the trail to assure the horses cannot touch. Viruses such as EHV-1 can be spread by airborne transmission as well as direct contact. (Note: There is no way to prevent nose to nose horse contact if using the horse stalls at Shimek and others are also using them)
• When tying your horse to a hitching rail or tie line, put enough space between horses from different farms that they don’t touch, share food or bedding.
•Control what your horse ingests. Many organisms can be ingested. Use your own bucket for watering your horse only and take the water from a faucet. Do not use a hose that has been lying on the ground or used by others.
• If you must water on the trail, water the horse upstream but be aware that some organism such as the Potomac Horse Fever fluke may be transmitted in open water.
•Bring plenty of clean hay for your horse as grazing around a campground could expose your horse to disease organisms. (EPM, for example, can be transmitted via grazing when the horse ingests infective sporocysts left by a possum. Organisms such as EHV-1 can be in the saliva of infected horses that may have eaten grass earlier. ) Do not feed the horse on the ground.
•Limit vector exposure. Ticks, mosquitoes and flies can transmit serious diseases as well as pester horses and riders. Insect repellants, appropriate use of fly sheets, rump rugs, and other horse apparel can all help reduce vector exposure. Check your horse and yourself carefully for ticks each day you ride.( The bite of infected mosquitoes is the source of West Nile Virus in both horses and humans.) Note rump rug and ear covers to reduce insect problems for the horse and helmet for rider safety in the photo.
• Restrict horse-human-horse contact. Don't touch another horse unless you need to do so. Be sure to disinfect your hands both BEFORE touching another horse and BEFORE touching your horse later. (Alcohol wipes are useful for this.)
• Disinfect your hands, clothes and boots before entering another horse stall or trailer and after returning home BEFORE entering your barn area.
• Before you leave the campground, clean up your campsite and stall. Please remove all bedding, manure, and left over hay that you and your horse have generated and dump it in the manure bunkers placed at each campground. This will allow drying and the sun to begin killing off any organisms and thus help protect the next camper and horse as most organisms survive much much longer in dark, damp environments.
(References and for more information see:
“Biosecurity on the Trail” from Equine Canada , http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/ahfss/Animal_Health/Equine_Biosecurity.htmland
USDA's “Biosecurity: The Key to Keeping Your Horses Healthy”)