How to Care for Your Equines During Governor Walz’s Stay Home Executive Order and COVID-19 Restrictions

 Note: Information regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. These guidelines were compiled on March 27, 2020 and will be updated as conditions warrant. The following organizations and their representatives contributed to these guidelines:

  • University of Minnesota Extension (Krishona Martinson)
  • Minnesota Board of Animal Health (Courtney Wheeler and Brian Hoefs)
  • Minnesota Horse Council (Allison Eklund and Tom Tweeten)
  • Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition (Stacy Bettison)
  • Horse service providers (Kim Otterson)

 The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of our equine industry. In Minnesota, several organizations have united to bring clarification to equine-related activities in Minnesota while under the Governor’s “Stay at Home” order. The unification of these organizations and the equine industry is critical as we collectively work to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 while providing essential care for Minnesota’s equines, as well as the physical and mental health and wellbeing to equine owners.

 A.        What is not permissible during Minnesota’s “Stay-at-Home” Restrictions?

Livestock exhibitions, fairs, camps, clinics, shows, and group lessons are prohibited during a “Stay at Home” order. 

B.        What is permissible during Minnesota’s “Stay-at-Home” Restrictions?

  1. Equine owners, barn managers and service providers are permitted to engage in activity that supports equine health and maintenance:
  • feeding
  • stall cleaning and manure management
  • turn-out
  • riding and training
  • breeding and reproduction
  • veterinary care
  • farrier care 
  1. Industries that support agriculture and the equine industry are also allowed to operate, including, but not limited to:
  • hay suppliers
  • feed stores
  • fuel providers

 C.        All equine-related activities should be conducted while following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, including:

  • stay at home when sick
  • frequent handwashing
  • not touching your face
  • clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment
  • maintaining a 6’ distance between others (i.e. social distancing)
  • 14-day quarantine if diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. 

D.        Considerations horse facilities may implement to effectively follow CDC guidelines.

  • scheduling and staggered individual riding lessons and appointments to avoid person to person contact
  • limiting time at facilities
  • sanitation of commonly touched surfaces and shared equipment between uses
  • allowing only owners/students at public facilities 

If facilities cannot effectively follow CDC guidelines, facilities may choose to close to all but “essential employees” who are responsible for daily care and maintenance of horses. Owners should respect and follow guidelines set forth by private facilities. 

E.        Obligation to care for equines is unchanged during “Stay-at-Home” restrictions.

Owners and caretakers are obligated to provide basic care for all livestock and horses including feed, water, shelter, veterinary and related care, and turn-out during the “Stay-at-Home” restrictions. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Can I go see my horse and ride?ANSWER: Under the Governor’s Executive Order, animal husbandry is an essential service. Individual outdoor activities are permitted and encouraged if social distancing guidelines are followed. However, individuals are encouraged to stay close to home and not travel great distances to enjoy the outdoors. Please respect stable owners’ policies intended to limit human exposure to COVID-19, even if that means recreational barn visits are not permitted. 
  1. Can I move or transport my horse?ANSWER: If necessary to ensure adequate care, you should be permitted to move or transport your horse. Social distancing and sanitation guidelines should be followed at all times. 
  1. Are farriers considered essential workers?ANSWER: Yes. Animal husbandry is an essential service. However, social distancing and sanitation guidelines should be followed. 
  1. I’m a trainer. May I continue training horses and giving lessons?ANSWER: Animal husbandry is an essential service, but group riding lessons are not permitted at this time. If private, single-person lessons are possible, they may be continued. However, trainers working at multiple stables risk transmitting COVID-19 from one location to another. Social distancing and sanitation guidelines must be followed. Stable owners’ rules intended to limit exposure of COVID-19 should be respected and followed. 
  1. I’m a boarding stable owner. What rules should I adopt to balance the interests of horse care with preventing human transmission of COVID-19? ANSWER: Stable owners may adopt rules intended to limit human exposure to COVID-19 while ensuring continued animal husbandry activities and services. Stable owners should follow CDC guidelines.  
  1. I am facing economic hardship. What resources are available to help me care for my horses or support my equine business? ANSWER: The Minnesota Horse Welfare Coalition provides assistance to horse owners experiencing hardships. To apply for assistance visit their website. Additionally, the Minnesota Horse Council has both the Temporary Emergency Feed Aid and Disaster Relief programs. Contact Dave Fleischhaker (cell: 651-402-5512 and e-mail: Superflei@yahoo.com) for assistance. It is possible some equine businesses and employees may qualify for state and federal assistance due to COVID-19. 
  1. My livelihood depends on horse breeding. Can I transport a mare across state lines?ANSWER: If necessary to support animal production, you should be permitted to move or transport your horse; however, contact the state of your final destination to ensure it is allowed. Social distancing and sanitation guidelines should be followed at all times. 
  1. I understand emergency veterinary and farrier care are essential, but what about routine appointments?ANSWER: If necessary to ensure adequate care, you should be allowed to continue with routine appointments. However, some service providers may choose to only see emergency appointments to limit human exposure to COVID-19 while ensuring animal health. Please respect service owners’ policies intended to limit human exposure to COVID-19, even if that means restricted appointments. 
  1. How do I care for my horse(s) if I become sick with COVID-19?ANSWER: Horse owners should have plans in place to provide care for their animals if they become sick or hospitalized. At a minimum this should include a description of horse(s); location; specific care and feeding instructions; name and contact information of service providers (e.g. veterinarian, farrier); inventory of feed, supplies, and medications; and a list of individuals (and their contact information) willing to provide care.    
  1. Can COVID-19 be transferred between horse and owner/caretaker? ANSWER: There is no evidence that horses can become sick with COVID-19 or transfer it to humans. However, human caretakers remain at risk and should follow CDC guidelines when caring for horses. 
  2. Will Certificates of Veterinary Inspections (CVI) and Equine Infectious Anemia (Coggins) testing requirement be waived or extended during the executive order?ANSWER: No. While there may not be an immediate need for CVI and Coggins tests, Minnesota’s animal health regulations remain the same.

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