Rabies in horses
Level III: Horse show attire

Horse quarantine: A harsh bargain

Quarantine – it sounds harsh, but good barns do it. As disease rolls across the landscape, the only way to prevent infection in your stable is to implement a quarantine program.

Our health plan includes routine quarantine of new horses for two weeks. Quarantine goes to a month if local disease conditions worsen, and we have been known to go into lockdown of the entire stable.

From a business standpoint, quarantine hurts, even though, as you can see in this photo, it is a pleasant space at our place. Quarantine does take up valuable real estate.

Last spring, our rush of new customers caused a quarantine bottleneck. The clients in quarantine, horses and owners, feel singled-out, and barn morale suffers. I will still pay the price, though.

Long before my boarding stable days, my thoroughly-vaccinated 11-year-old gelding contracted strangles from an infected public water trough. Rivers of greenish-yellow mucous poured out of his nose, the glands under his jaw swelled terribly, he ran a high fever, suffered depression, and could not eat. This went on for two weeks. If that’s not enough of a picture for you, read John Steinbeck’s classic book, The Red Pony. The specters of nursing multiple horses back to health, or perhaps losing a beloved friend, make quarantine a bargain.