March 17, 2020

COVID-19 Preparation for Boarders and Boarding Facilities

There's a lot of uncertainty out there right now surrounding this pandemic.  And I don't know about you guys, but nothing makes me feel better than preparation.  To that end, on the horse front, we need to be prepared to be away from our horses for an extended period of time.  Yes, even in the fully locked down Bay Area the rules state they're still allowed to travel to get to pets, but what if it gets tighter than that?  Or what if you're in the hospital on a ventilator for four weeks?  There are too many unknowns to assume we boarders are going to be able to continue business-as-usual.

To that end, my GP trainer sent out an email last night with her barn's COVID-19 policy, and I thought it was great and wanted to share it with all of you.  She's very thorough and meticulous about these things, and it includes some things I would never have thought of. 

Really can't imagine staying away from here for four weeks

During this 30 day window (rules will be reassessed regularly and possibly modified or extended):
1. Clients and only one immediate family member are permitted on the farm. 
2. [Farm] will not be open to the public, so prospective client farm tours are canceled. 
3. Please follow the CDC guidelines and keep at least six feet between you and other people. Avoid standing around with others talking.
4. Make sure to wash your hands when you visit the restroom or any time it seems like general good hygiene. Use paper towels to turn off the water and also to open the door so that you don't touch handles. 
5. Frequently touched surfaces such as door knobs and hydrant handles will be disinfected daily by staff.
6. If you are sick, please stay home. Follow the guidelines mandated by the CDC and available on the [state CDC] website [link]
7. Have a first aid kit in your locker including at least 1 unexpired tube of Banamine - in case your horse colics. If you have a lock please give the combination to [barn manager]. You can find information on first aid kits online.
8. Prepare at least 30 days of supplements/medications in case you can't come to the farm.
9. Write instructions telling your daily routine with your horse in case staff needs to take it over from you.
10. We recommend COVID-19 high-risk clients avoid working horses on bad weather days when everyone will be confined to the indoor.  
11. Riders under 18 may be accompanied by an adult, but please no lounging around in the lounge, resting in the restroom or bathing in the bathroom ;-) We are removing the chairs to help curtail lounging and resting in common areas.
12. To minimize exposure risks, please ride outside as much as possible. All three arenas will be groomed regularly.
13. Clients, please bring your own gloves, sanitizer, wipes, masks, whatever you feel you need to make sure the barn environment is safe for you. Also, sanitize any surface before and after you touch common areas and tools (like brooms, wheelbarrows, barn and stall doors, handles, etc.). We think it might be best to leave the indoor arena and tack room doors open as much as possible to get maximum air flow and minimize client contact with door handles. 
14. Don't touch anything that is not yours, and remove any of your personal equipment from the indoor to minimize others touching it without your knowledge.
15. [Eventing trainer] lesson clients are only permitted in Barn 2 and are limited to having only one parent or guardian accompany them.
16. Haul-ins are limited to only the lounge restroom. No tacking up in the barns.
17. If any of our staff has to be quarantined, we will immediately advise everyone of the situation and request the same from our clients.
18. Please police each other - if you see someone not following these rules, kindly remind them of our new policies enacted to protect everyone. 
What's your barn doing to prepare?


  1. Things are getting wild! Several barns in my area have closed to the public as well - only boarders are allowed on-site and if you leave (for a show - even though now they're all cancelled, or go home, etc) you aren't allowed back until its been lifted. Wild!

  2. I just got the call today that I am not allowed to come for a week; we visited family out of state over the weekend for a very brief visit that fell right in the window of "it's still okay to do some limited stuff." I was feeling a touch uneasy about the visit before we left, and regretting it by the end of the weekend, but here we are. Then the phone call this morning that they don't want me there until the weekend assuming I am not ill (I am not, I have moved into the personal anxiety phase of checking temp regularly).

    It feels both smart and fair and also crushingly personal. Like so many things right now that are moving SO fast, it also feels really hard to make good choices. You can make a choice that feels reasonable in the moment and then four hours later it's a bad one. So I am kind of demoralized right now.

    1. Wow! You really shouldn't feel demoralized, like you said the situation is changing so quickly, and no one really knows what the right thing to do is. Five days away seems reasonable.

    2. Kind of feel like the two main pillars of my mental health got knocked out at once. At least there's still books & tea.

    3. I IG'd you too, but hit me up if you need an at-home CF workout accountability buddy!

  3. We are on mandatory shelter in place as of today, I still plan on riding my own horse and teaching private lessons, though that could change of course. Several of the bigger lesson programs in our area are shut down already, one including boarders. My barn owner says he's not planning to shut the barn down at all, but again, things keep changing. I've got a week of grain/supplements set up and am going to do more today. My issue now is that I'm going to run out of grain! But that's okay, I'm going to give the barn instructions to add an additional flake of hay when we run out, he can survive without it for sure. This is absolute insanity, hope everyone stays safe and healthy.

    1. That would be really stressful to run out of grain! I can only cross my fingers and hope my trainer has stocked up (I think she has, she's on top of those things generally). Either way it's out of our hands isn't it.

  4. I talked to Irene last night they are at a 10 people at the barn rule at her new boarding facility.

    We just have a "Don't come if you are sick policy" and have the world's smallest groups of boarders right now but I am a little uncertain about the whole barn closing and needing to move bit...

    1. Yeahhhhhhhh barn shopping right now would be exceptionally difficult. Maybe they'll allow you to push back moving out? If more barns adopt my GP trainer's stance of no facility tours, it would be really hard.

  5. Thankful to have my horse on my own property at a time like this (and no boarders), although it does require extra mindfulness on making sure there is an adequate supply of feed, bedding, med supplies, etc. in case we are unable to get out. I am hopeful that forced work from home and limited leaving = a lot of extra saddle and outdoor time! Trying to see the positive and take advantage of the change in weather and extra daylight.

    1. It would definitely be better although slightly more stressful to have them at home, as you say. No one lives on my barn's property and I worry about a full lockdown happening. I guess worst case scenario someone would sleep in the office!

      When I started WFH and lost the commute, I finally had time to workout and ride both every day, it was great! So hopefully you do get to take advantage of the extra time.

  6. Good for them for being proactive & thorough! It just makes sense at a boarding facility where you have a mix of clients who also have a mix of contacts/family outside the barn.

    I really feel for everyone boarding right now, I would hate not to see the horses. Hoping more & more people will quickly get on the train of being so proactive, so spread can be slowed down, which will make the process shorter!

    1. I hope so too. I'm taking the "Expect it go to on until Labor Day, and be unsurprised if it does, but happy if it ends more quickly than that" tactic.

  7. My barn isn’t closed, yet, but it’s a small, gated, private barn without a lesson program. I 100% trust my barn owner to make a good call because her she and her children ride and work at the barn and she’s always made solid decisions for horses and the barn community. I’m making an effort to go when there is less barn traffic than normal and we’re all trying to keep 6’ from each other. I’m trying to take advantage of some of these video lessons being offered because that’s an incredible opportunity!

  8. These are excellent and very sound rules.

  9. They really covered all of the bases. I really don't think you can be too careful right now.

    These are our barn's current policies:
    1) If you don't feel well, please stay home
    2) If you normally visit my trainer's grandpa and grandma, please keep your distance.
    3) 6 ft person space bubble at all times
    4) No guests. Only boarders and lesson students.

  10. My barn is tiny so I'm lucky. Just me, one other boarder with 2 horses, and the barn owner who has a mini. We all have our own paddocks and our own individual tack and hay/feed storage. I feel pretty OK with going there as the only potential 'conflict' where we might touch the same door or gate is that the barn owner feeds hay and fills water for me in the morning. I feed my two dinner and muck out with my own fork/wheelbarrow at night. Otherwise, no one is anywhere near anyone else's space or gear and I rarely see another person there. I'm still bringing disinfectant and wiping down gate handles, etc just in case after I use them - the owner is elderly and I'd feel horrible if she got sick.
    I'm worried about my hay supply, though. It's really difficult to get hay here at the best of times. I have just about a month left and currently the supplier is working limited hours and not delivering to our area. I'm hoping it's just a situation of people panicking and hoarding, rather than there actually not being any left to bring me when things settle down.

  11. I'm grateful to have my ponies at home and a very full hay barn for them right now. I bought about 4-6 weeks worth of grain too just in case. Currently our state is still fairly low-risk (only 9 confirmed cases here so far) but I'm preparing for the worst just in case.
    The barn I trailer in to for lessons hasn't gone into much lockdown yet, just encouraging people to stay home if sick and 6ft between people on the property. We will see how much worse it gets regarding quarantine/social distancing policies.

  12. Sounds like a solid protocol for the barn. I'm lucky that mine are at home (so am I now) and that I have lots of hay stocked. Our provincial equine association is pushing for stables to cut lesson programs now (we have a state of emergency activated) but I'm not sure if boarders can still go out. Strange times for all...