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New Barn Ideas for Surviving in a Covid Environment

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  • New Barn Ideas for Surviving in a Covid Environment

    This is meant to be the Covid-19 Barn Protocol/Policy/Procedures Thread.

    Barns may be re-opening soon, or continuing operations, but whatever format it is, governments and some customers are going to be expecting certain standards to be met to keep the barn from becoming a source of covid infection.

    Covid-19 is not going away and eventually it will penetrate every corner of every country. We will be fighting this fight for months, even years. A vaccine will help, but will not be the magic bullet, because there will be people who are unable or unwilling to use it.

    Let's share ideas, standards, protocols. Social distancing; sanitizing; shared touch points; all the things that could be a risk of Covid-19 passing from one person to another.

    Barns helping other barns; people helping each other. Together we'll get further than if we are each trying to figure it out alone. Some are further along in this process than others, but once people are thinking about it, new ideas will benefit everyone.

    Ideas from barn patrons, staff, students, boarders, parents, and onlookers are most welcome, in addition to barn managers/owners. Those who experience the barn can have extra insight.

    Back of mind should be the thought that, eventually, many barns will be required to meet local government standards. And to demonstrate that whatever protocols the barn is using, they will satisfy a government health agency that the barn is unlikely to be a source of transmission. New and existing customers will also have questions. The more the barn is already doing, the easier it will be to win credibility, and adapt where necessary.

    Thanks to all who contribute!
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Halters/leads - is sanitizing enough? What if people aren't doing the sanitizing as instructed?

    An idea re halters/leads ... ok agreed this may be mad over-engineering, but it would forestall covid transmission if sanitizing isn't performed adequately (it's hard to control staff) ...

    Instead of providing a halter/lead for each horse, provide one for each human who leads horses. (Or as many as the number of horses they lead at one time.) No one touches anyone else's halter(s).

    During horse transfer times, humans keep "their" halter(s) with themselves, not with the horse. Human use "their" halter(s) on all the horses they lead.(An adjustable halter will work for many size horse heads. Some people will of course need to carry a couple of sizes.)

    Each owner keeps one halter/lead for their own use, and no one else touches it. The owner does not touch any halter other than the one they keep with them.

    If staff leads more than one horse at the same time, then they have as many halters as horses they lead at one time. And as many sizes as they need, but try to use adjustable halters to reduce the number needed.

    No halters are hanging on stall hooks where multiple people will inevitably grab them.

    So yes, horses will be walking to and from the barn with halters labeled "Trisha" and "Ashley", rather than the horses' own names. But the horses don't keep them on, and I think that, in time, people will figure out that Ashley is the person, not the horse.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Hand washing -- Everyone who comes to the barn washes their hands thoroughly on arrival, before they do anything else, to get rid of whatever they might unknowingly bring with them.

      And everyone washes again just before they leave, to forestall anything they could have picked up despite precautions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Personally, I avoid all that by doing my own horse care. It’s simpler because my horse lives in a stall unless I turn him out. No one touches any of my tack, either.

        But I agree, every person having their own halter would eliminate a lot of contact.

        How can you facilitate frequent hand washing? Putting in mop sinks in high traffic areas would help with that. I’ve noticed that it’s really difficult not to touch things others have touched, but being able to wash my hands mitigates that.
        A helmet saved my life.

        2017 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!

        Comment


        • #5
          Scheduling is likely to be part of maintaining social distance.

          Banning visitors to a large extent to limit the number of people in the facility, and to maximize available times for riders.

          I am aware that it's not likely to happen in the US, but expecting people to take responsibility for both not passing on the virus and not picking up the virus. Staying home when not feeling well, have symptoms, or have been in contact (work, home) with someone symptomatic in the past 14 days. Not touching their face (which may mean mask and/or gloves as a reminder), washing hands and equipment, keeping hands off other people's stuff, keeping their own stuff as compact and tidy as possible, keeping their distance from others, etc.

          Comment


          • #6
            Wash your hands, don't go out if you are sick, and don't play with your nose in public. How hard is it to learn to stop fiddling with your face, which you shouldn't be doing anyhow?

            Ride outside.

            All the information so far suggests that people are not catching Covid 19 through outdoor activities. You need a certain volume of virus to get infected and it tends to waft away outside.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
              Instead of providing a halter/lead for each horse, provide one for each human who leads horses. (Or as many as the number of horses they lead at one time.) No one touches anyone else's halter(s).
              What a fun way to spread fungus among the whole barn if one horse happens to get something.

              <Cringe>

              How about simply - do not touch things that are not yours.

              The barn staff can wash their hands after they put all the horses out/in.

              Comment


              • #8
                This may sound terrible. However, I really think it is a strong point. Kids are, IMO, going to be a huge factor in contagion and sanitation protocols. Particularly lesson kids. I think protocols for barns that cater more to just boarding or boarding and training for adults will be much easier to manage than barns with a large lesson program.

                Small children are obviously less likely to correctly follow sanitation and social distancing protocols. In the barn, kids are usually accompanied by at least one adult. Children, once school resumes, are going to be at high risk for exposure and of being a symptomatic carriers. Beginner lesson kids, which are the bread and butter of many barns, require supervision and often hands on assistance to groom and tack the horse up. Lesson kids often share the tack and grooming supplies designated for a particular school horse. By nature, the lesson program has more people in and out and more opportunities for cross contamination. Plus group lessons, how would that work? All those parents chatting together in the viewing area won’t be advisable going forward.

                In contrast, my boarding facility doesn’t have a lesson program to speak of. The clients are the horse owners. All adults except one older teenager. I’d say at least half of the clients are retired or otherwise don’t work. Those clients run less chances of exposure since they have less contact with the masses. As adults, we all are taking hand washing etc quite seriously. We all have our own stuff. We aren’t gathering together for lessons. We don’t require an entourage to get to the barn. We are not socializing. When we do chat, it’s with a large distance between us.

                Due to how long the virus lives on different surfaces, I think halters and leads are less of a concern than light switches and door knobs. Fortunately, many barns are highly ventilated to the outdoors. I believe that extra air flow will help lessen the chances of infection.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I know of one boarding barn that reopened to boarders but they sign up for time slots and need to keep all tack/equipment in their cars and tack up outside. Basically, they're not allowed in the barn, but you can come ride your horse if you stay outside.

                  I think as long as people are hand sanitizing/washing fairly frequently and being responsible the risk of transmission from an item that is touched by a few people but that is left outside is pretty low.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    One thing that I haven't tried at the barn is nitrile gloves (or latex). But it seems to me they will be very impractical in a barn. I think that all the rough surfaces would wear through them fairly soon. And women's nails can easily puncture them unless the nails are very short.

                    So assuming the fragile nitrile or latex gloves won't be practical, I think that makes the common touch points a bit more of an issue than they would be otherwise.

                    Although some people are planning to just wear their riding gloves as long as they are at the barn. That could be a recommendation.

                    I'm all about hand-washing. But sinks aren't handy to most spots at the barn where everyone touches the gate latch or the jump cups. Between arrival and leaving, people will be out and around.

                    A virus has time to take hold inside someone's body before they get back to the sink. It's not realistic that everyone is going to spend 45 minutes or an hour, or more, out in the heat but never touching their face. Doubt anyone can achieve that!

                    Thinking maybe people keep some small squeeze bottles of hand sanitizer clipped to a belt loop, or some wipes in a plastic bag in a pocket. Because the virus could take hold inside someone's body before they get back to the sink.

                    Anyway ... for spots that are 'out there' away from the sink, maybe the barn can come up with one general policy for how that is handled. That would make it easier for everyone, rather than having an endless list for every common touch spot on the property.


                    I know many people are not going to want to be so fussy about wiping hands and equipment after moving a jump cup (how about 4 jump cups, or more). It might be easier to designate one person on foot to be a jump adjuster, and no one else touches them that day. And that would keep a spectator jump-adjuster volunteer away from other spectators!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Wearing gloves rubber or riding is absolutely pointless because you can pick up virus on your gloves and transfer it to your face.

                      Honestly not touching your nose mouth or eyes is number one. Not touching mucus membranes.

                      The virus does not transmit well outdoors.


                      Comment


                      • #12
                        [QUOTE=OverandOnward;n10637134]Halters/leads - is sanitizing enough? What if people aren't doing the sanitizing as instructed?



                        Each owner keeps one halter/lead for their own use, and no one else touches it. The owner does not touch any halter other than the one they keep with them.

                        I use my horse's show halter and it is not available for anyone else to use. I tack up in the stall after disinfecting the places I might touch with a solution of bleach and water.

                        Frequent hand washing.

                        I have my own radio and use that as opposed to using my instructor's.

                        I have hand wipes in the car and use those before leaving the premises of anywhere I have been. I wipe down everything.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OverandOnward View Post
                          I'm all about hand-washing. But sinks aren't handy to most spots at the barn where everyone touches the gate latch or the jump cups. Between arrival and leaving, people will be out and around.

                          A virus has time to take hold inside someone's body before they get back to the sink. It's not realistic that everyone is going to spend 45 minutes or an hour, or more, out in the heat but never touching their face. Doubt anyone can achieve that!
                          The virus enters via the respiratory tract, so eyes, nose, mouth. If you touch something with your hands and don't subsequently touch your face, the virus isn't going to enter your body. Now, I could see a scenario where someone was in an area of the barn without available hand sanitation, touched a contaminated surface, and subsequently touched their face before they had a chance to wash their hands. But, once you've touched your face, washing your hands isn't going to help to mitigate that individual exposure. In general, washing your hands is helpful as you might remove any contamination before you touched your face or another surface.

                          I'm no virologist or epidemiologist, but I think the main factor for getting it is sharing confined air space with an infected person, especially for prolonged periods of time. And we don't necessarily know who's infected as they could be asymptomatic. IMHO, this is a bigger issue than the touching of surfaces. So, wear masks (and possibly keep your riding gloves on), keep people separated, don't put too many people (maybe more than one) in an enclosed space like a tack or feed room, limit the number of people at the barn in a given time span, encourage people to wash their hands frequently. Avoid touching other people's stuff to lower the level of paranoia, if nothing else. An open-air environment is your friend here. Breezeway barns are probably a bigger problem than shed rows.
                          The Evil Chem Prof

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I post this because the Province of BC has done better than any comparable urban jurisdiction outside of Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, in shutting down the virus. Despite having a bunch of early infections from travelers from Iran, China and cruise ships. BC never ordered people to stay home, and only explicitly shut beauty salons, bars and sit down restaurants (though most retail has closed for lack of business).

                            Our experience has been that the worst outbreaks continue in nursing homes, prisons, and meat packing plants. There has been no transmission through outdoor activities though of course most people are being fairly good about the 6 foot rule with strangers.

                            Anyhow I think the risk of transmission at a barn is low if riders don't haul themselves in with symptoms. And if riders follow basic hygiene meaning wash your hands on arrival and don't rub your nose and eyes with dirty barn hands. Wearing gloves has no effect.

                            While I understand that an asymptomatic person *can* spread the virus in close quarters, I doubt that an asymptomatic person breathing on a lead shanks will deposit enough virus to infect the next person who uses that lead shank unless they stick the lead shank up their nose.

                            https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5550191

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Scribbler I think I’ll have a very odd visual when I look at a lead rope the next few times.
                              The Evil Chem Prof

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I board at a big barn (think 80 horses). The barn has 6 aisles. Boarders are limited to 3 visits per week, 2 hours at a time. Only 2 people can be in an aisle at a time, and all grooming and tacking must be done outside or in the stall. There is a sign up sheet on Google docs. There are exceptions to the time limit--vet or farrier. Yesterday I signed up for 10am to noon because the vet was comingat 10:30 to remove the 20 stitches from my mare's face. He didn't make it til 11:30. It was o.k. for me to stay til he was done. We wipe down everything we've touched, including halters, stall door handles, etc. We do not hang lead ropes on our stalls or they "walk". Horses wear halters in the stalls (small barn fire earlier this year resulted in one horse dying because it kept running back into the barn). Boarders wear masks (can remove them when riding). We do have an active lesson program which is gradually starting. Trainers are responsible for grooming and tacking their lesson horses.

                                Truthfully, the barn is one place I do not worry about germs.
                                Proud member of Appendix QH clique

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I wear nitrile gloves in the barn regularly in the winter to help prevent hand chapping. Nitrile gloves are very durable-but you need to get the better grade ones. Cheap nitrile gloves are easy to rip.

                                  My plan is to wear nitrile gloves and periodically spray them down with disinfectant as I am handling my horse. I know hand washing is the top precaution, but I think spraying my gloves often *should* help in preventing disease transmission? I put my riding gloves over the nitrile gloves and my riding gloves are washed after each use.

                                  I will be carrying my tack and brush box, halter and leads with me each time I go to the barn.

                                  I will also be spraying down everything I touch periodically as well.

                                  Starting May 1, the barn is opening to 1 two hour slot weekly to each boarder. It is a large barn with lots of boarders.

                                  I hope that as the month progresses, many more time slots will open up.

                                  http://thepitchforkchronicles.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                                    I post this because the Province of BC has done better than any comparable urban jurisdiction outside of Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, in shutting down the virus. Despite having a bunch of early infections from travelers from Iran, China and cruise ships. BC never ordered people to stay home, and only explicitly shut beauty salons, bars and sit down restaurants (though most retail has closed for lack of business).

                                    Our experience has been that the worst outbreaks continue in nursing homes, prisons, and meat packing plants. There has been no transmission through outdoor activities though of course most people are being fairly good about the 6 foot rule with strangers.

                                    Anyhow I think the risk of transmission at a barn is low if riders don't haul themselves in with symptoms. And if riders follow basic hygiene meaning wash your hands on arrival and don't rub your nose and eyes with dirty barn hands. Wearing gloves has no effect.

                                    While I understand that an asymptomatic person *can* spread the virus in close quarters, I doubt that an asymptomatic person breathing on a lead shanks will deposit enough virus to infect the next person who uses that lead shank unless they stick the lead shank up their nose.

                                    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5550191
                                    I stand by Scribbler's response. Risk of transmission is relatively low at a barn, and following basic hygiene practices (that we should have all been following in the first place - prior to COVID) should do the trick. I don't disagree with proper social distancing, time slots, tacking up outside, etc., but I do find a lot of these extra precautions a little excessive (only allowing boarders to touch 4 jump cups...? How would you even begin to regulate this, or ensure they have been sanitized?). I think it comes down to less worrying about disinfecting every surface touchable in the barn, and more to disinfecting ourselves (washing hands, not touching face, wearing a mask if necessary).

                                    This virus isn't going anywhere, and some of these protocols won't be sustainable (tacking up outside in -30C weather, probably not), barns spending a fortune on extra cleaning supplies (not unless you're willing to pitch in). I think people need to accept responsibility for their own hygiene and don't come to the barn if you're showing symptoms.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Think carefully about what you really need to protect yourself FROM:

                                      (1) Close (shared-air) contact with other people in a confined space.

                                      (2) To a lesser degree, contact with indoor surfaces others have touched that can "hold" the virus.

                                      (3) Close contact with people walking around with the virus.

                                      Working as much as possible out in sunlight and air while keeping as much space between you and other people as practical pretty much takes care of (1) and (3). Keeping clients out of the barn (grooms or you prepare and lead out horse for ride) pretty much takes care of (2). What others above have said about scheduling riders apart.

                                      Hang halters in the sunshine and wind, line the tack up on a rail for an hour in same, and you'll have very little need to "disinfect" these things as the virus has a half-life of about a minute and a half if exposed to UV light.
                                      If clients want to wear a mask to "feel safe," fine, but once they're mounted and in motion there is truly no need.
                                      I would close the bathrooms for now to eliminate the cleaning factor, and maybe provide a Porta-Jon instead.

                                      The one "crunch point" I can see where closer contact might be necessary is in mounting, checking girths and adjusting stirrups for beginners or young children. Otherwise, "See you in the arena!" makes this one of the MOST socially distanced sports there could ever be. And non-lesson activities like trail riding are up there with solo kayaking and such as the LEAST likely to expose anyone.

                                      I would urge everyone to arm themselves with links to the known FACTS to back up your practices with clients, and refuse delivery of the hysteria. Right now parents will do ANYTHING to get their kids an activity outside the house, so you'll get busy FAST!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Crashing Boar View Post

                                        Hang halters in the sunshine and wind, line the tack up on a rail for an hour in same, and you'll have very little need to "disinfect" these things as the virus has a half-life of about a minute and a half if exposed to UV light.
                                        do you have a reference for that claim?

                                        According to NAS, Sunlight does not destroy the coronavirus quickly.

                                        UVC light from the sun is blocked by Earth’s atmosphere. When you go outside on a sunny day, the UV light that reaches you is UVA and some UVB. These types of UV light do not destroy viruses quickly.
                                        • Going outside on a sunny day will not quickly break down coronaviruses on skin. But it can give you a sunburn if you are not wearing sunscreen!
                                        • Some viruses are seasonal and spread more slowly in the summer. This is probably due to warmer temperatures, higher humidity, and changes in human behaviors—not because it is sunnier in the summer.
                                        • The best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 are to wash your hands, keep your distance from other people, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
                                        https://sites.nationalacademies.org/...irus/index.htm

                                        Additionally, this recent study on UV-C radiation does indicate it can be efficiently used to sanitize surfaces, but as pointed out above, and in this paper, UV-C radiation is not the same as UV radiation in sunlight (at least on the surface of the earth) and sunlight won't be effective.

                                        https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0414173251.htm

                                        My methods are wearing a mask when near anyone else, but trying to stay as far as practical (easy enough most of the time) and washing my hands or sanitizing.

                                        (also, I have no idea how a Port-a-John would be a better alternative than a bathroom)
                                        "So relax! Let's have some fun out here! This game's fun, OK? Fun goddamnit." Crash Davis; Bull Durham

                                        Comment

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