What determines an outbreak?

So a pretty big reason why I am worried about showing this year is because I am worried. I take the health, safety and well being of my horses very seriously. Like very seriously. I think one of the reasons that I have been so lucky with finding horses to lease is because I am so attentive to the care and well being of every horse that I ride. I would much rather be known as a good horse person than a good rider (good thing too right :P). So what has me so worried??


There have been 3 reported cases of EVH1 in my state already this year. It is really, really early for any cases to be reported, but to have 3…that is just not a good sign. The rumor mill is also going full tilt and word on the street is that one of those horses was actually at a show. So now my area is in a full blown panic, which makes me want to panic as well. EVH1 is no joke. Horses can die from it. Even horses who are vaccinated can still get sick.


Many shows are now putting bio-security measures in place. One of the top hunter shows by me is requiring clearance by a vet 3 days or less prior to the show. I know a lot of the dressage shows are requiring health certificates as well as documentation that your horse got the EVH1 vaccine 7days-6 weeks prior to the show. The local show grounds is requiring a signed form stating that your has no signs of illness and that you took their temperature the day of the show before you left and it was normal.


This makes me not want to show, or even leave the property this year. I know that is not exactly a realistic way to avoid it this year though. You see, the girl who boards at Lucky’s loves to show and will be showing 2-3 weekends a month this year, so even if Lucky and I do nothing, it is not a guarantee we will not be exposed. I am trying not to live in fear, but it is not easy.


There were a lot of concerns last year (or was it 2 years ago already) but never before have I seen such wide spread panic. Being the paranoid person that I am I already take a lot of precautions when I go out to a show. Lucky has never been allowed to graze when we are out and about, and I not only bring my own buckets, but I also bring water from the barn so that I don’t have to worry about that being a point of contamination. I also don’t let Lucky meet other horses, nor do I ever go over and pet other horses myself.  Even with all that, there are still plenty of ways to get it. What if I pick up a pen at the secretary’s stand after a person whose horse sneezed on them touched it? Or if a ring steward or friend touches Lucky after touching a sick horse?


My biggest fear is going to a show, which we can all admit is not a necessity of life, having Lucky get sick and then passing it on to Gennyral. That is truly a terrifying thought.
Terrifying enough that I haven’t actually sent my entry in yet. The closing date is approaching, I need to do it soon. I am still planning on showing, but that little voice in the back of my head has me hesitating. I have already decided that if it really does go to a full outbreak status I will take a break from showing. I also plan on doing twice weekly temperature checks on Lucky from now on just to be safe. Gen is such a drama King that I would know it if he didn’t feel well. Lucky on the other hand is a very stoic horse.  I really hope that the rumors someone brought an obviously sick horse to a show are not true. We horse people need to stick together and do the right thing so as not to put other horses in danger.


6 thoughts on “What determines an outbreak?

  1. Many of the barns that participate in our little dressage chapter’s shows are BIG BUCKS places with very expensive horses–with international clinicians who come several times a year to teach “invitation only” riders and horses. For them it is “Better Safe than Sorry.” Two years ago we canceled two of our four shows, making our final show (schooling) a recognized show. We also had to change our year-end award requirements because most all of them require showing in “three of the four shows” we offered. And we didn’t OFFER that many.

    One barn did not allow horses onto the property. If you trained there and took your horse to another facility, you could not come back until the outbreak was declared over.

    You are completely correct with your last sentence: “We … need … to … do the right thing so as not to put other horses in danger.” Shows can be canceled. Lessons can be rescheduled. Horses’ health and well-being should NEVER be compromised.

  2. It would help if people would use common sense for one thing. For example my horse will not eat any grass what so ever, They will have there own hay water bucket, and there is no contact with other horse ( Nose to nose)I have my own hose even. Just be careful you’ll be fine.

  3. Im sure it will be fine. Talk to your vet and ask about the potential for a booster. I think it isn’t uncommon to provide a booster if there is a current outbreak. Also, just carry some hand sanitizer with you at the show so you can avoid carrying it back to your own horse.

  4. There is so much mid-information out there. For example: The booster may or may not help your horse; medical opinions differ, and some experts believe it will make a horse *more* susceptible. There is a thought that a normal EHV vaccine will reduce shedding of nasal lining and reduce the possibility of an infected horse passing it on, rather than helping a horse who is protected. So far I have gone the route of having the booster, but there is definite conflicting evidence there. Hand sanitizer does not help. I think hoses stuck in water buckets to fill them could be a big danger – not something you think about as a danger, but if the buckets themselves are… of course the hoses must be, too!

    We had months of no shows and self-quarantine in barns a couple years ago when EHV-1 was pretty bad out here (AZ) – and I don’t understand why the same isn’t being done in other areas with outbreaks. If it’s under control after a certain number of weeks (I don’t remember how long it takes to show up after exposure at the longest) you can start shows again – but if it still shows up, think of the equine lives it’s saving!

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