View Full Version : Caring for horses when sick.

Nov. 7, 2009, 11:53 AM
My daughter has swine flu and she is very, very sick. I am worried about her and I am trying to get things set up in the barn in case the rest of my family gets this, so I can make horse care as easy as possible if I get sick. This is one of those things I always forget to mention when people ask what it's like to have your horses at home. It's 99.9% great, but if I get sick, I will still be out there taking care of the horses no matter how sick I feel and it will be rough. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my daughter will rally soon and the rest of us will be ok.

Nov. 7, 2009, 12:04 PM
My husband and I have talked about having a horse property instead of boarding and it always comes down to vacations & possible emergencies... I feel like we'd have to have a barn manager. With boarding it's nice to be able to take a vacation and know that our horses are fed, exercised, and groomed. On the other hand, I'd sure love to have my sweeties in my backyard! Kinda jealous here.
I am so sorry to hear about your daughter ~ from the folks I know who have had H1N1, the worst of it is only 3-4 days. Handwash like crazy, disinfect doorknobs & whatever else you can think of, and do whatever you can to avoid catching it. You just might be able to emerge unscathed. Good luck!!

Nov. 7, 2009, 12:19 PM
Vacation? What's that? Seriously, we have lots of neighbors and friends we can go to in an emergency which is wonderful. Maybe, if you do get sick, you could turn them all out and ask a friend/neighbor to throw hay over the fence. They won't starve in a couple of days and you certainly don't want to make yourself sicker, if you have the flu. That's the road to nasty complications.

Come Shine
Nov. 7, 2009, 12:34 PM
As someone getting over the flu, I feel for your daughter. Be prepared that she may start feeling better after a week and then relapse. My doctor said they are seeing that quite a bit.

My doctor recommended that my family have the H1N1 vaccine and get a prescription for Tamiflu to take as a preventative or to have if they became ill. Touch wood but, so far, it's only me that is sick.

I wish your daughter the best. It's sure a nasty bug. I have barely been near the barn in almost 3 weeks.

Nov. 7, 2009, 12:37 PM
It's a great idea to make local connections even if you have your horses at home. Get in touch with people at local stables or those you trust and KNOW are reputable horse people. There are oftentimes many people who would love to make some extra money horsesitting while you're sick.

Nov. 7, 2009, 01:13 PM
have all instructions ready to print out and laminate to put in the barn.

Make connections (should have that anyhow) and be prepared to look the other way when cleaning isn't all that thorough.

While turning them out and throwing hay sounds sensible, there are too many situations where that just does not work.

And biggest getting well wished to DD. it's been a while since I was so really disgustingly sick, and it was only for one day...don't like the idea of flu season one bit.

Nov. 7, 2009, 01:15 PM
If there's only one horse to care for, just leave the stall door open, if an easy access type barn, or as another poster said. just leave him out. Feed outside if possible, in a flat tub. If possible measure and "bag" meals and label if supps are added. For a few days it probably won't matter if you add the supps to the feed. Have hay easy access for the feeder and be sure water is topped off. A neat horse is a blessing and if you have to leave the stalls for a few days, not a big deal. Hope your daughter feels better soon and doesn't pass it on to the rest of you! Rest is very important, so do as little as possible while under the weather.

Sing Mia Song
Nov. 7, 2009, 03:02 PM
I'm just getting over the flu, too, and taking care of horses when you're sick sucks the big wazoo. DH is not a horse person, but can feed and water in a pinch.
One of the things I did when we built our property was to set it up for the times when we're hurt, sick or otherwise incapacitated. We built the house so that we live on the first floor, and the doorways are big enough for a wheelchair. The barn is set up so that the horses can come in and out at will, and someone can dump feed without having to separate horses or turn in/out. Most of the time, they choose to poop outdoors, so mucking is minimal.
I do have feed instructions and emergency numbers posted as well, and I have a couple frineds who will cover for me in case I really need it.

Nov. 7, 2009, 03:46 PM
As much as your barn layout permits, move heavy stuff like hay bales as close to its final destination as possible. You don't want to be climbing up into the hay loft to push down bales when you are weak and dizzy; put two outside each stall door if you have the room. That way you (or a helper) can just grab and throw if you have to.

Written instructions for helpers is a really good idea. However, make sure there's some clear way to identify the animals and the feed. It drives me crazy to get a set of instructions saying that "Ginger gets 2 quarts senior feed; Champ gets one 1 quart performance pellets; Dutch gets 2 quarts performance pellets," and then have to figure out which unmarked bin is the senior feed and which horse is Ginger, Dutch, or Champ.

Nov. 7, 2009, 05:26 PM
too bad that the 'putting feed in baggies' and the 'place hay by the stall' only works when you have a heads up about being laid up.

I do believe stuff like the flu can hit you hard in a hurry. So having things organized and maybe marked and labeled is a good idea. You just can't have a lot of hay in the barn for 'just in case'

Nov. 7, 2009, 06:29 PM
Well, wash your hands constantly, bleach down the bathroom and kitchen constantly, DON'T TOUCH YOUR FACE, gargle with salt water, flush out your nose with salt water if you can, blow your nose alot, wash your hands, use the alcohol stuff on your hands, shower all the time, shampooing hair, hot showers, you and your daughter when she can, hot sterilze as hot as possible your dishes in the dishwasher, not washed in the sink, bleach your linens, don't share pillows or bedding, wash in hot water and bleach yoru bedding, and you probably WON'T get the flu from your daughter. If you don't dothis, you probably will. We had two people in the house with swine flu, and the other 5 didnt get it because of the above. The two brought it home from two different places, and didn't give it to each other. the above precautions make all the difference.

USE BLEACH, its better than lysol or any other anitmicrobial product at killing bacteria or viruses.

There is about a two day incubation period between when its given to you and when you start to come down with it, and it incubates, or sits, or resides, in your nares and throat, so the gargling with salt water and blowing your nose and rinsing your nasal passages or swabbing out your nose can kill it.


Nov. 7, 2009, 06:36 PM
too bad that the 'putting feed in baggies' and the 'place hay by the stall' only works when you have a heads up about being laid up.

Ehr, she does have a heads up about being laid up. Her daughter is down with the swine flu. There is swine flu in her house. She has been in contact with an infected person. That's about as much forshadowing as you could ask for.:rolleyes:

Nov. 7, 2009, 08:59 PM
Thanks for all the encouragement and suggestions. So far so good. Thanks, Another Round, for such excellent advice. I have printed it to share with my family. I am the queen of hand sanitizer and Lysol, but I will now use Bleach around the house! Thanks so much. I'm glad you were able to avoid such a terrible illness.
Before we knew what this was, my daughter was so chilly and miserable, I let her snuggle in with me in my big, warm bed with the dogs and kitties. Who could say no to a sick child, but I think this thing has me in its sights. The barn is set up for easy care for the next few days and I do have people to call on in a worst case scenario thank goodness.

Nov. 7, 2009, 10:40 PM
Oh, of course you did, you can't not attend a sick child, and you have to hold and soothe them. I just think that the diligent attention to what does make the virus hard to get a hold on you makes a huge difference. Also, teaching the kids to cough into their sleeve is good. Then they don't get it on their hands, because hands transmit so much so many places. One more thing, heh heh heh.

Nov. 7, 2009, 11:13 PM
I had swine flu in June and my daughter didn't get it. I was super diligent about staying away from her, wiping things down with Clorox wipes whenever I touched them, bleach down the drains, etc.

Fortunately my barn is set up to be pretty user friendly, and I managed to drag myself outside once a day to feed, and my daughter did the other feeding when she got home from work.

It was much easier, too, because it was good weather. I feel for people who will get sick in the middle of winter. Going out in a blizzard when you feel like death is no fun at all.

Nov. 8, 2009, 12:40 AM
Just been through this.

"barn chores" consisted of staggering out the back door with coat over jammies, throwing food and hay, turning the hose on and off, then crawling back to bed.

The boys survived a few days of squalor.

In the past if I have been bed-ridden or hospitalized, I have called on my neighbors to come help--and they have done the same to me.

There are three of us up here with horses and sufficient horse experience that we feel comfortable about doing this. We have a little network who can step up to the plate if needed. We also feed each other's horses when we go out of town, so we know the routine. They might not do things exactly the way I do, and no doubt vice-versa, but it's OK and no-one starves of goes thirsty.

Nov. 8, 2009, 04:45 PM
The horses are doing fine but I feel like something the cat dragged in. I actually cleaned stalls in slow motion this morning, resting in between. To all of you who have been through this while juggling jobs, kids, horses, and came out the other side, you give me hope. Yuck, though, this is not fun.

Nov. 8, 2009, 06:20 PM
Oh no Chai,
I hope your not getting it, but unfortunately it sounds like you are....:no:

Nov. 8, 2009, 08:01 PM
Oh YUCK! Sending healing thoughts and jingles your way that you will bounce back soon. This might be a good time if you haven't found anyone local to help out, that you hit up your COTH friends. I'm in central NC and would be more than willing to pitch in if you're in the area.

Nov. 8, 2009, 08:20 PM
The horses are doing fine but I feel like something the cat dragged in. I actually cleaned stalls in slow motion this morning, resting in between. To all of you who have been through this while juggling jobs, kids, horses, and came out the other side, you give me hope. Yuck, though, this is not fun.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO :eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:

It got you?!

Virtual hugs!

Hope you get to feeling better soon!

Nov. 8, 2009, 08:25 PM
Fortunately, I have a good friend around the corner and she has feed for me on numerous occasions - out of town, late meeting, working late, etc.

When I ended up in the hospital in July with a double fracture of my pelvis, I had a friend who was trained and ready. Just gave her my credit card and she took over for the two months that I was incapacitated.

I could not have made it without her. Be prepared!! You never know when you'll need serious help.

On the bright side, I can't imagine having my horses in a boarding barn. I have three and board two others and I so love that they are at the end of my drive way.


Nov. 8, 2009, 08:58 PM
I just battled through the flu all last week. Canceled all lessons. Luckally I have a small farm and a bunch of low maintenance horses/ponies. Turned everyone out as much as possible. Stumbled downstairs in sweats with a mouth full of cough drops twice a day to feed them and check for any illnesses and injuries and than right back to the couch. I was very thankful to be fully stocked on hay and my fantastic feed store delivered everything I needed for the week. I had a few friends offer to take care of the horses for me, but with no voice it would have been harder to explain what to do rather than just bear it for the 15 minutes twice a day. So definitely keep an updated list of barn chores for all weather conditions and your feed chart updated.

Feel better Chai! And if you don't lose your voice or at least have your chores list written up give your friends a call... thats what friends are for!

Nov. 9, 2009, 03:49 PM
1) Keep feed charts up to date.
2) If you dump feed from the bags into other containers, label the containers! A well-meaning but non-horsey helper might have no clue what various feeds look like.
3) Cultivate local contacts. My sister, who lives just down the road, has been of inestimable help when I've been out of commission.
4) Keep feed supplies topped up. This means cat and dog food, too.
5) For yourself, have a supply of soda crackers, pudding cups, soup, microwave meals, etc. on hand, just in case.

Nov. 10, 2009, 10:45 AM
Call your vet. Daughter was hospitalized for a month for a very serious illness when we first moved here. The vet techs took care of everything and were very reasonable about their fee. I walked into the vets office sobbing (didn't know if daughter was going to make it) and they told me to go back to the hospital and don't worry about a thing.

Wonderful feed store delivered feed and bedding and said not to worry about paying until we got around to it! Gotta love Kentucky.

Daughter is fine now.

Nov. 10, 2009, 11:04 AM
Maybe I am just lucky or maybe my horses all have a bit of redneck in them. But if I am so sick I can't get out the door to feed normally, they survive fine for a day or so on just lots of hay, turned out. I realize with winter nearly here and blankets being an issue that might not be as easy for someone living north. My horses have never been hot house flowers and live outside pretty much 24/7, so they always have pasture to graze on, plenty of water, and can miss a grain feed or two if i am that sick or have an out of town emergency.
It does help to have someone available to stop in if you REALLY can't function. That was a top priority for us and we are lucky to have two or three folks we can call on if we leave town for a weekend. THANK GOD I have not yet been so sick I couldn't make it out there once a day to throw hay. I know you must be miserable!

red squirrel ridge
Nov. 10, 2009, 05:16 PM
Hang in there ! I've been down with the flu for the last few days. Thankfully my DH has be caring for my assorted animals. I am just having him do hay, water and hay pellets, I didn't have the energy to explain about vitamins. A few days won't matter, plus DH has to also take care of the dogs, rabbit and chickens too... and cook and clean :)

Chai I hope your daughter feels better and you and your family stay healthy !