With the summer show season in full swing, many owners are traveling with their American Quarter Horses to events across the country. Keeping horses healthy when traveling presents some challenges, but careful management and simple biosecurity precautions can help protect horses from exposure to disease.
Travel stress due to trailering and being in an unfamiliar environment is always a concern for horse owners. To help combat this stress, trailer horses with a familiar companion whenever possible. Owners may also choose to supplement feed with electrolytes or feed hay soaked in water to aid hydration. Consult with your veterinarian for more information on how to minimize the effects of travel stress on your horse, including immunomodulators. A properly administered immunomodulator can help a horse’s immune system function more efficiently against certain pathogens.
An example of an immunomodulator is ZYLEXIS?, an inactivated (killed) parapox ovis virus that stimulates the horse’s immune system to aid in the reduction of equine upper respiratory disease associated with equine herpesvirus (EHV) Type 1 and Type 4 infections. When administered prior to exposure to stressful situations, ZYLEXIS? can help stimulate a horse’s immune system to function more efficiently against EHV-1 and EHV-4 pathogens. The use of ZYLEXIS? to help reduce the severity and duration of upper respiratory symptoms in exposed horses has been demonstrated in a contact challenge study.? Practitioners in Germany have been using it in patients for more than a decade.
When on the road, be sure to maintain an up-to-date Coggins test for all your horses and carry it with you when you travel, along with a list of all current vaccinations and any medications needed. Travel to some states or regions may require health certificates or proof of certain vaccinations, so be sure to research any requirements beforehand. Your veterinarian is a good source of up-to-date regulations for travel.
Practice good barn hygiene when you arrive at the destination facility. Disinfect stalls prior to moving your horses in and do not use common water buckets or feed areas at event grounds. Other items that should not be shared include twitches, lip chains, halters or other items that may touch a horse’s eyes, nose or mouth. Keep daily temperature logs for your horses, particularly if they seem lethargic or go off their feed. Isolate sick animals immediately when signs are recognized.
For any shared items or stalls, be sure to follow proper sanitation and disinfection techniques first. There are a number of commercially available disinfectants such as ROCCAL? D Plus or NOLVASAN? Solution that are effective for killing bacteria. Before disinfecting, remove all excess debris or dirt from the item and wash with a detergent such as laundry or dish soap. Follow this washing by dipping the item in disinfectant. Disinfection can be completed on items such as nylon halters, bits, lip chains, grooming equipment, shovels, pitchforks and even shoes. Be sure to rinse the disinfectant off completely, using clean water two to three times before using the item.
Any time a large number of horses reside at a show ground or training facility, there is a risk of disease exposure. Good management practices and biosecurity measures can help reduce these risks so that owners can enjoy a full season of everything from competitive events to recreational trail riding.