How to Quarantine a New Horse

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When you’re trying out horses for sale, you’re probably not thinking too much about whether that horse could be potentially sick. You’ve had a veterinarian perform a pre-purchase exam on the horse, and he appears healthy – nothing wrong, right? Not necessarily. It is important to quarantine a new horse whenever you bring him into a new agistment until you are sure of that horse’s health. Here’s why and how to do it properly.

Why Quarantine?

Despite having passed a pre-purchase exam and appearing healthy, some contagious equine diseases may be present in a horse without you yet being aware of it. Diseases like strangles are highly contagious, yet they take some time to develop in a horse’s body before they will present symptoms. If you were to bring a new horse home to a stable full of horses and that horse turned out to be sick, he could quickly pass the disease to all of the other horses.

When you quarantine a horse, you separate him from the other horses in the stable to prevent the spread of disease until you are certain that the horse is well. A typical quarantine period is about two weeks, though some owners prefer to quarantine for longer periods of time. During a quarantine the horse must be kept away from the other horses, and tools need to be designated for his care only to prevent cross-contamination.

How to Quarantine a Horse

The location of the quarantined horse is highly important. If at all possible, stable the horse in a different building entirely than the one which is housing other horses. If the new horse is turned out, he needs to be kept in a pasture that is far away from the other pastures. He cannot have contact with the other horses.

Designate certain tools to be used only for the care of the new horse. This includes muck buckets, pitchforks, brushes, feed tubs, water buckets, and even hoses. Highly infectious diseases can be spread through tools, so mark each of the tools to be used for the new horse with a brightly colored tape or other identifying mark. Keep his feed and hay in a separate area from where the rest of your feed is stored, and if at all possible, use a single faucet to fill and clean only his water buckets.

Ideally have one person care for the new horse. That person should not care for any other horses. If people must care for both the new horse and others, they should leave the new horse’s care until the end of their chores, then immediately wash their hands and change their clothes before entering the main stable again. The new horse’s manure and bedding should be dumped in a separate area from where the rest of the horses’ bedding is dumped.

Quarantining a new horse properly can be a challenge, but it is part of buying a horse and is essential to the health of all of the horses on the property. TOPHORSE–browse horses for sale or place an ad to sell horses

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