OSU Extension warning horse owners to have plan in place in case of COVID-19 illness

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STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many Oklahomans to stay at home, officials with Oklahoma State University Extension say that horse owners should have plans in place to ensure the proper care of their animals in case they become ill.

“Create a short list of people who can feed, water and keep the horse’s stall and environment clean, and work with them to ensure these basic animal needs are met daily,” said Kris Hiney, OSU Extension equine specialist.

Officials say that you should not wait until the last moment to make arrangements and you need to have plans written down so nothing is forgotten.

“Horses should be easily identifiable by a name on a halter or a stall, or have other identifying features written down as part of instructions detailing expected care,” Hiney said. “Write the instructions down on paper, in a text or email, or provide them in a voice message and send them to those who will be looking after the horses. Better yet, do them all. Redundancy is a good risk management tool.”

Equine owners are encouraged to have enough feed on hand to last a horse two weeks. Also, you should create a back-up plan if grain isn’t available.

“Don’t hesitate to go into detail,” Hiney said. “For example, feed instructions for grain and concentrate should include information about how much, how often and the location from where the horse will access the feed. Don’t forget to tell where the grain and concentrate are located if it is not obvious. Only stalled horses with no option for turnout truly need to be exercised. Be sure to share which horses go out together and which must go out individually.”

OSU Extension Veterinarian Dr. Barry Whitworth said that while instructions for all aspects of horse management are vital, those about medications that will need to be administered are especially so.

“Remember, the person volunteering to help may not have the same level of knowledge as the regular horse manager,” he said. “Most horses are not performing at this time, so owners should stress giving only essential medications. The focus is on maintaining animal health while the horse owner protects his or her own.”

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