By: Penn State Extension
Amid the COVID-19 business closings and stay-at-home orders, many horse boarding farms are looking for guidance on how the “Life Sustaining Business” mandate applies to them. At this time, there is no official horse-specific statement from the Department of Agriculture, but when the question arose it was recommended that all farm owners follow the guidance for Farms and On-Farm Delivery to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It is essential to continue caring for the animals, but beyond that, private businesses may decide individually whether to allow boarder visits. It was suggested that businesses seek legal counsel before making a decision.
One equine legal firm has published an opinion, along with reasoning, for why it makes sense to shut down boarding barns during the crisis. Penn State Extension does not endorse this company, but we want to provide our customers with as much information as possible.
It was also encouraged that boarding businesses that do allow boarder visits, offer scheduled appointments for anyone who visits the farm, including boarders, farriers, veterinarians, etc. Some managers are utilizing online scheduling tools to allot time blocks. All visitors must practice social distancing (at least 6 feet between people at all times) and good cleaning measures. This may be a good solution for self-care boarding facilities where closing to boarders is not an option.
The suggestion is that no more than 10 people are present, together, at one time. However, under Stay-at-Home orders, residents are not to go out except for essential tasks such as getting food, medication, medical attention, going to essential work positions, caring for others, or engaging in outdoor activity. While providing daily horse care is considered essential, it is not clear whether riding horses would fall under those categories. Extension Horses, a group of university equine specialists from around the country, suggest keeping up to date on agriculture and state websites regarding COVID-19 and to educate yourself on the latest COVID-19 activities and guidelines. (though this is not law)