New York State Horse Council ...NYSHC

Creating an Emergency Plan Amidst the COVID19 Pandemic

Sarah E.J. Collier, JD

Establishing an Emergency Plan

As COVID-19 continues to create challenges in our daily lives, having an emergency plan is more important than ever. Whether you own your own horse or have a boarding facility (small or large), we urge you to have a plan in place in the event you (and/or your staff) become ill. Things to keep in mind when creating a plan are:

1) Who will care for the horses if I fall ill and am unable to care for them?  

If an individual or two do not come to mind, there are many emergency care taker groups being formed (Long Island being one of them). Connecting with a group like this or reaching out to your local equine community could help you create a safety net to ensure your horses are cared for in the event you become ill. Also, make sure you name at least one person who is not part of your immediate household. Covid-19 is highly contagious and if you contract COVID-19, there is a strong likelihood others in your household will either contract it or they will need to self-quarantine.

2) What feed and supplements are my horses getting?

If someone does need to step in and care for your horse, it's important to have the horse's feed schedule laid out for that individual. This should be in a spot easily accessible to others such as in the feed room, office, tack room or cabinet in the barn. If you have multiple horses, be sure to include pasture/stall location, photos and descriptive markings so the individual can easily identify the horses.

3) Do I have enough feed, supplements and hay to last me 30 days?

We are still uncertain how COVID-19 will affect horse owners and boarding facilities from getting the feed and supply they need. For that reason, it's important NOT TO PANIC, but to have supplies on hand that can help you weather a shortage and limit your exposure to public spaces (as per state and municipal recommendations). If your storage is limited, keep in contact with your suppliers and keep their contact information readily available.

4) Do I have an emergency fund & cash available?

During this pandemic many have been faced with financial instability thereby creating a general awareness of the importance of having a financial reserve for emergency situations. It is generally recommended that an emergency fund should include three to six months of expenses. Incorporated into the emergency fund should be emergency cash that is kept readily available.
Other considerations for an emergency plan include a compilation of information such as:

Contact information for:
  • Horse owner & barn owner's emergency contact
  • Business/barn emergency contact-caretaker
  • Veterinarian, farrier & other equine health professionals
  • Barn staff
  • Hay, feed and supplement suppliers
  • Power of attorney (depending on the circumstances)

Information on your horses:
  • Horse's barn name & registered name
  • Stall/pasture location
  • Age & breed
  • Horse's photo & descriptive markings
  • Tattoo, branding and/or microchip information
  • Equine health issues, noteworthy equine behavior & vices
  • Location of veterinarian records & other equine health routine care information
  • Feed schedule

Keep in mind that every horse and barn situation is different and therefore this is not an exhaustive list of what could be included into an emergency plan.

After compiling all the necessary information and creating your emergency plan, be sure to keep essential information and documents in an easily accessible location that makes logical sense based on the information compiled.

Additional resources for establishing an emergency plan:

Horse & Barn Owner Emergency Planning Checklist

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