Horse health after the show

Traveling and showing horses is a lot of fun but nobody wants to be around a horse that might be sick and contagious. It’s important to practice good biosecurity by not sharing tack, using your own watering buckets and feeders, and keeping a clean trailer. Despite your best efforts, some diseases are very contagious and can show up long after you get home. 

Dr. Jeff Bissett with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture says when the show is over, have a return strategy. Keep the horse in a separate stall or paddock away from other horses for two or three weeks so you can monitor its health.

"You’re looking for things like temperature, appetite, demeanor. Appetite and demeanor usually you’ll see first. Head carriage, any changes in their stool. Anything that’s abnormal to you may be worth exploring because it may be the signs of one of those diseases that takes a little while to manifest itself," says Bissett. "If you keep them away from the other horses it prevents a big, big problem for your barn. It’s kind of a pain in the butt, but it can prevent a lot of issues."

If you board the horse in someone else’s barn, there is a question you should be asking. Is there a biosecurity plan and agreement?

"When you come and go, is there something that you need to follow? If there’s not something like that, should you have something in place with your barn? Should you have that discussion? The answer is yes but it can be tricky sometimes when there are lots personalities in barns," he says. "The idea is to develop a checklist of things that you’re doing, do them consistently, and be vigilant."

Know your own travel history and be picky when choosing shows you attend to reduce the risk of any problems that could develop when you get home.