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Is shoeing an essential service amid COVID-19?

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  • Is shoeing an essential service amid COVID-19?

    Hi Everyone - horses still need to be shod/trimmed, but I’m wondering if anyone knows if it’s being deemed an “essential service” for us states with stay at home mandates. My husband is a farrier, I am immunocompromised and we have a newborn at home so we are going back and forth with how to handle this. Thoughts? He’s pushed some clients back while we get it figured out, but we can’t risk him losing his whole book.

  • #2
    Considering how important hooves are for horses, I would say yes. They can become crippled without adequate hoof care.
    But, I think it's completely appropriate to push out a few weeks for those that can handle the wait, and only do those that are absolutely needed (those rehabbing something like laminitis, those with really poor feet, those that are already at eight weeks right now, etc.).

    Consider mandating all payments be sent through something like PayPal and Venmo, so that he does not have to touch things like checks and cash. Require the horse/barn owners to wear gloves and masks, and make sure he touches nothing but the horse's legs; he should carry soap with him and wash his hands and arms after every barn, whether he uses a hose or a sink.

    If you don't have somewhere at home he can quarantine himself away from you, have him strip in the garage and shower before coming anywhere near either of you, no touching anything including door handles. He should wash his clothes when he gets home every night. Maybe he even wears a mask at home, if you can find one.
    Last edited by mmeqcenter; Mar. 21, 2020, 06:00 PM.
    Custom tack racks!
    www.mmeqcenter.com/tacklove.html

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    • #3
      The question you should ask is if it's right for your family, and only you can answer that. Are you comfortable with the risk, if all reasonable precautions are taken?
      My shoer doesn't require me (or anyone) to be here when he comes, he just gets my horse from his stall.
      http://trainingcupid.blogspot.com/

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      • #4
        I wouldn't stop farrier services. If your husband takes precautions and washes his hands , wipes down the vehicle etc.. and limits his contact with people at the barn I don't see why you would be at above average risk.

        We can't live in a bubble. No matter what you have some contact with the outside world no matter what you do.

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        • #5
          Yes, our barn considers it essential.
          Savor those rides where you feel like a million bucks, because there will be those where you feel like a cheap date...

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          • #6
            According to Equestrian Canada, farriers and vets are included in those needed to provide essential care, so that answers that part of the question.

            You need him to take extra precautions to protect your family - the poster above did a great job outlining what to do

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            • #7
              I could push 3 of my horses to a longer schedule if need be but my old Cushings mare with founder issues- she needs done every 4 weeks min- usually we do her every 3
              Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

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              • #8
                It's an essential service in that it's permitted under lockdown.

                It's an essential service from horse care angle.

                Any individual farrier is of course free to quit the trade whenever it compromises his health whether that's COVID 19 or a slipped disc or arthritis. But then you have no income.

                It's not essential in the way that emergency services are: no one can force you to do the job bit of course you will lose clients

                It's a dilemma for sure. I think reasonable precautions can keep you safe.

                On the bright side, he is able to work through the crisis unlike many jobs.

                Have people pay in advance by e transfer and work on the horses without the owner there.

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                • #9
                  My farrier is coming this week. I would offer him hand sanitizer but I haven't been able to find any. Maybe he will bring his own.

                  That said, I don't know what my farrier would touch other than my horse's legs, except his own equipment. I plan to hold for him, but if he would rather I put them on cross-ties and step back I can do that. My farrier tends not to work in backyard barns without someone present though (for his own safety, which is smart.)

                  Of course it's up to everyone to determine their own risk. I think my farrier would feel bad not doing the horses that need it. And, obviously, it's his main source of income.

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                  • #10
                    I am hoping my Ferrier will come can you to shoe my horse. I am contemplating whether to try him barefoot for a while.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      It's is always good to be as cautious as possible, but yes, I would consider farrier work essential. I would agree that many clients can probably push things out a week or 2, but there will be some that should not.

                      To provide a little comfort, recent research found that this virus has a lipid shell. These are easily destroyed by essentially any cleaning product, including basic hand or dish soap. This means it's much easier to disinfect any surface & protect yourself than it would be from something with a protein shell (like that past norovirus thing). It doesn't require a medical grade product to kill it.

                      Good biosecurity practices will cover your bases. Providing advance directions to clients of what they are expected to do would be really helpful.

                      Many farriers wear gloves anyway - even cheap fabric gloves can provide a barrier that you could change between clients & then dump in the washer at the end of the day. If you can't find an alcohol based cleaner, dish or hand soap squirted in a bag with some kind of paper towels or whatever, is also on option for "field" hand cleaning & hopefully water is available at most barns.

                      Many horse owners also have betadine (which usually comes in huge jugs) & chlorhexadine, both of which can kill viruses. A quick Google showed me that both were effective at killing HIV (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2465403; concentrations included), so you can follow up with more reading but I expect they would then kill this coronavirus no problem. Any immunologists, please correct me if there is some strange reason this is not the case.

                      Biosecurity is a normal part of my job (rare species biological research & propagation), so these facts give me a great deal of confidence that I can protect myself & not spread this (I live alone in a rural area & don't go anywhere usually except work, I hate shopping). I'm happy to answer any questions & have a close friend who DOES work in immunology, so I can also ask her if there is anything I can't answer.

                      Be safe, but you don't have to live in terror, we can get through this together.
                      Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                      Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                      We Are Flying Solo

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thank you everyone! I wish I was better at using this forum, but Wildlifer - that information is incredibly helpful! My hope was that it wasn’t considered essential so he could stay home the two weeks until things have slowed and not risk losing clients to other farriers, then reassess, but that’s not the case. He’s starting back to work tomorrow and taking major precautions. It’s a scary time to have a newborn, even though it seems to be mild for children, as a first-time mom, my anxiety is high. Thank you for the reassurance. We are grateful to have jobs (I work from home), but it’s a confusing time paired with the already high level of anxiety for any new parent. Hope you all stay healthy! 💕

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Things aren't going to be slowed down in just a 2 week period, if anything the positive cases will ramp up exponentially.

                          You need to plan for months ahead, not weeks. Like someone else said your husband may need to stay/sleep separate

                          from you and the baby for a while. That's the only safe way to handle it if he continues to work in the public.
                          "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Horsecare101 View Post
                            Thank you everyone! I wish I was better at using this forum, but Wildlifer - that information is incredibly helpful! My hope was that it wasn’t considered essential so he could stay home the two weeks until things have slowed and not risk losing clients to other farriers, then reassess, but that’s not the case. He’s starting back to work tomorrow and taking major precautions. It’s a scary time to have a newborn, even though it seems to be mild for children, as a first-time mom, my anxiety is high. Thank you for the reassurance. We are grateful to have jobs (I work from home), but it’s a confusing time paired with the already high level of anxiety for any new parent. Hope you all stay healthy! 💕
                            He can stay home if he chooses. But horses need to get their feet done, so people will go elsewhere if needed. He will probably get most of his clients back when this is over, if he was a good farrier.
                            Having an official say it is essential or nonessential shouldnt be what he uses as a determination for your safety.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Horsecare101 View Post
                              Thank you everyone! I wish I was better at using this forum, but Wildlifer - that information is incredibly helpful! My hope was that it wasn’t considered essential so he could stay home the two weeks until things have slowed and not risk losing clients to other farriers, then reassess, but that’s not the case.
                              You are most welcome.

                              ​​​​​​As a client, I definitely wouldn't have a problem with a farrier reducing contacts for a week or two to "only horses who will suffer actual detrimental issues" due to having high risk family members. Especially if you are somewhere where grass isn't in yet, most hooves aren't growing at full speed yet. I like to keep my horses on a very tight schedule & I get twitchy when it gets stretched, but I know that most of the time, an occasional extra week or two will not actually injure or damage a healthy horse.

                              Exceptions for medical emergencies or other intensive management case, like acute laminitis or other such issues.

                              If things get really uncomfortable for you, there may also be the option of temporarily referring another farrier if there are others available who may be lower risk. My farrier has done this, for example, if he is out of town for an extended time & we have an emergency. It is no threat to his business as he's very good at what he does & works hard to do his best for the horses.

                              The key is good communication & keeping it flowing, that is what will keep the clients worth keeping. I can deal with almost anything as long as you communicate with me openly like a professional adult.
                              Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                              Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                              We Are Flying Solo

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Marla 100 View Post
                                Things aren't going to be slowed down in just a 2 week period, if anything the positive cases will ramp up exponentially.

                                You need to plan for months ahead, not weeks. Like someone else said your husband may need to stay/sleep separate

                                from you and the baby for a while. That's the only safe way to handle it if he continues to work in the public.
                                This. Things are going to get worse for weeks to months before things get better. Developing clear protocols with his barns is one of the biggest things he can do to keep everyone healthy.

                                Some things to consider:
                                - Mandatory paperless payment (paypal, venmo, etc.), no cash or checks
                                - Horses must be in the crossties at the start of the appointment - keeps him from handling stall doors and other surfaces
                                - One person per barn brings horses in and out for service - while that one person could be positive but asymptomatic it is safer than interacting with half a dozen clients
                                - Load tools into the back and then hand sanitize to minimize germs traveling into the cab

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Is there a fellow farrier that could take over for him for a while? One of mine once did this for another farrier who had sustained a broken leg when he was kicked by a client's horse.

                                  If not, I concur with wildlifer's recommendations. I farmed so I'm used to maintaining strict biosecurity protocols to prevent the spread of disease across livestock herds/flocks. Some of it doesn't translate to preventing the spread of human diseases, of course. But some does. Disposable gloves and protective clothing, Nolvasan and bleach baths for shoes and truck tires, clorox wipes in the truck and various buildings, etc. Minimal phone use and put it in a plastic bag. Personally, I would nix barns that don't have some means for hand washing. Even if it's just a hydrant and hand soap. But I'll freely admit that I'm not an expert and could be wrong on that last point.

                                  Can he at least get disposable gloves? I was able to pick up a box of single-use nitrile gloves at the hardware store because the hoarders forget that they carry them. (Caveat: Nitrile offers similar levels of protection against viruses as latex but not bacteria. But COVID-19 is a virus, so... ) The CDC was advising medical professionals to at least tie a bandana or something over their faces if they can't get proper PPE equipment. Not ideal, but would at least keep him from unconsciously touching his face. Maybe a plastic face shield like loggers use? Again, not going to screen the virus out but will help limit accidentally touching his face. Maybe all hand tools go straight into a container of disinfectant on the truck before leaving a farm.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Question - how does one go about sterilizing things like leadropes/blanket straps/etc? Fabric type stuff, thicker than average.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post
                                      Question - how does one go about sterilizing things like leadropes/blanket straps/etc? Fabric type stuff, thicker than average.
                                      Don't bother. The virus isn't going to live more than 36 hours on any surface....max.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by endlessclimb View Post
                                        Question - how does one go about sterilizing things like leadropes/blanket straps/etc? Fabric type stuff, thicker than average.
                                        Immerse in bleach solution.

                                        Here is the current list of disinfectants approved by the EPA to sterilize surfaces against COVID-19, including the active time and a reference for the dilution rate (by reference to directions for other viruses.) Note that this is intended for hard surfaces, not fabrics. However, generally speaking, viruses are less likely to survive on porous surfaces like fabric, so transmission between these items is less likely. Based on that, I would conclude that in the absence of further information the EPA's recommendation for hard surfaces is likely to generalize to soft ones and would probably be overkill- but better safe than sorry.

                                        Originally posted by S1969 View Post

                                        Don't bother. The virus isn't going to live more than 36 hours on any surface....max.
                                        That's not accurate. Up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel in ideal environmental conditions (ideal from the virus's perspective, anyway.)
                                        "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

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