Horse Owners Banned from Seeing Their Own Animals Need YOUR HELP NOW!!!
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Since the State of Emergency was declared in Ontario, horse owners were lumped into the “indoor recreation sports/areas” sector. Horse owners have been prevented from having access to their animals; neither seeing them nor doing all or the required maintenance to maintain health. We are requesting a modification to the rules to allow safe owner access only. This can be accomplished with a biosecurity plan. We are not looking for “business as usual” in the equine industry. No riding schools, camps, public-facing and non essential activities, which are indeed indoor recreation sports, simply put: just owner access to their horses outside.
As background to the need for this access, these creatures are part of our family and provide us with mental and physical health while we provide them with the physical and mental support that they need on a regular basis. Many horses become depressed or emotionally upset or hard to handle/dangerous when their owner does not work with them. Similarly, many of their owners are in mental anguish being separated from their pets, on top of the mental health issues that can arise from this Covid situation.
Minimum standards of care that horse owners look after on the daily basis and barn owners are limited or are unable to do in our absence include:
Grooming away winter coats
Checking for ticks and other fungal or bacterial skin problems such as mud fever, rain rot, scratches and thrush
Checking and cleaning hooves
Monitoring and managing spring dangers such as founder and colic, which come with access to spring grass - which can result in pain, lameness and death
Cleaning the sheath in geldings - failure to do so can result in infection and death
Grooming of very young horses is crucial for them to learn proper behaviour and to allow foot care from a farrier
Putting sunscreen on white faces and muzzles
Putting bug repellent on horses
Administering parasite control medications and necessary dietary supplements
Tending to previous injuries and maintaining physiotherapy programs
Doing equine stretching and massage routines
Maintaining flexibility and mobility in older horses
Horses need the mental stimulation and physical fitness required by working with their owners in ground work exercises and through riding. Again, failure to work some horses with access to spring grass can even result in the horse’s death through colic and laminitis. In other cases, their respiratory system can be severely compromised by not being worked. Older horses need consistent work to maintain proper health.
Horses are not material items that can be set aside for weeks and months and only fed and watered for their health. Managing horses requires a great deal of time and individual attention which is not possible for barn owners to provide on behalf of all the horse owners paying to board their horse at the facility.
All levels of government in Canada have publicly and repeatedly communicated that everyone in the country should be practicing social distancing and the nature of horse ownership can very easily lend itself to social distancing with other humans and eliminates the use of commonly touched surfaces. All of the activities that owners do can be done outside in a field or outdoor riding area. Tack and tools used by the owners can be kept in their vehicle and not shared with other people. Google calendars can be set up and shared with horse owners so that meeting with their horse can be done at a time when others are not scheduled to be there. Touched surfaces such as gate or door handles can be disinfected by everyone directly after touching. (Technically the gate is the only surface that needs to be touched by an owner.) Owners with horse trailers can move their horse off property and ride on trails or country roads without involving any other people. There can be easily established rules about no visitors, and not touching anyone else’s animals or materials. If barn owners are in the vicinity, generous social distancing will be used and masks and gloves can be used as needed.
Provided proper social and physical distancing measures are put into place, we are seeking your support in gaining visitation rights to our horses. This will help barn owners, horse owners and the horses themselves. In the name of mental and physical health of the owners and the horses, and the barn owners, we respectfully request your help in modifying the rules and thereby allowing owners safe access to their horses as soon as possible. We are simply requesting that we can resume operating under the minimum standards of care outlined in the National Farm Animal Care Council Code of Practice to ensure the feeding, care and movement of equines. It’s the latter that isn’t being addressed by facility owners and they simply cannot exercise other people’s horses as they don’t necessarily have the physical qualifications to do so safely. We can adhere to all government recommendations and implement the biosecurity plan across the province with your support.
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