In the light of COVID-19 many barns have shut to all but staff. And there have been a variety of responses to this. As a trainer at a barn that has taken this step here are my thoughts.
Our barn is closed to boarders. Trainers, grooms, farm staff are the only ones allowed. Yes, it seems harsh. But the reality is…
A Trainer’s Perspective
First, t is very difficult to keep social distancing in a barn setting. I’ve numerous times had to wait to get in the barn because another boarder was in front of the tack room. Or been in the locker area only to have someone walk in to that small area. Not everyone has the same respect for this virus and not every barn is setup with wide open spaces and clear sight lines that allow us to practice distancing properly.
And some barns are just too large to have a schedule of who can come when. (Which also requires far more frequent sanitizing between each turnover.)
Second, barn surfaces are very hard to disinfect. We learned this with the EHV-1 outbreak we had in the Woodinville area not too long ago. While metal surfaces can be wiped, wood touch surfaces are almost impossible to disinfect as are cloth halters, lead ropes, and other common equipment.
We are still learning about this virus. We’ve now heard that it can survive on surfaces 17 days after the last person left an infected cruise ship. We’ve also learned it can stay airborne for up to 3 hours. Do you want to be riding and have someone who is a carrier pass in front of you?
For each boarder that comes to the barn staff is exposed exponentially. That one person has to get fuel for their car and groceries for their household. Their spouse may have gotten the mail and didn’t wash their hands. Their child may have sat 3 feet from a friend.
Add to these concerns the fact that a barn worker might be immunocompromised, or have an elderly parent they are taking care of, or a spouse that just had a heart transplant, you get the picture.
Most importantly: in the event that necessary staff do get sick, who will care for the horses? If horses are our primary focus, and their care our highest good then isolating staff from potential exposure should be our first priority.
If one boarder test positive for COVID-19, ALL the boarders who have been at the facility, and staff go under quarantine, and their families. Since not all staff live on property, who will care for the horses?
In the normal course of life we don’t think twice about going on vacation for two weeks and leaving our horses in the hands of barn staff and trainers. The only difference today is the boarders are not 3k miles away on a beach.
Stay home, and stay healthy everyone!
A Chance to Learn
Now is your chance to get some out of the saddle learning and work done! Here are some suggestions for horse owners stuck at home to make you a better student, and a better rider for your horse:
Become a better athlete
Try these at home workouts and exercise suggestions to get fit and become a better athletic partner for your horse:
Study Your Dressage!
Become a curios student, watch and read and listen.