BY DANI SCHNEIDER
Everyone is feeling some sort of ramification from COVID-19, whether you’re an equestrian industry worker, healthcare provider, store employee, first responder, lawyer or a small business owner—the Coronavirus impacts everyone. With uncertainty looming around us, it is becoming difficult to stick to our old routines when our lives are being so drastically changed.
With even more regulations being implemented as the week progresses, how are we supposed to have a sense of normalcy? Barns are being closed to the public and clients, horse shows are still suspended until May 3, 2020, and some cities are on stay at home orders. Horses and the barn is a second home to many, an escape from reality, and the highlight of one’s day. How do equestrians continue their routine when everything is so different now?
Luckily in this sport, there are ways to minimize social contact and still continue to care for your horse and follow government and barn protocol for safety. Keeping your horse in shape and up to date with their healthcare is crucial throughout the next few months.
Even still, vets are experiencing a decline or cancellation of appointments for elective procedures in the midst of COVID-19. “We have about 1/10th the number of appointments right now than we normally do,” Amy Hassinger of Hassinger Equine Sports Medicine, Imaging and Rehabilitation Clinic commented. Hassinger Equine Sports Medicine is typically at shows with their mobile hospitals, but with the suspension of horse shows they are back to their farm in North Carolina to work on horses. “We are speaking to clients and a lot of cancellations are financially related,” Hassinger shared.
To keep their practice safe for their clients and their employees, both Amy Hassinger and her husband, Dr. Jim Hassinger were both tested for the Coronavirus when they began experiencing flu like symptoms but tested negative. “We only have essential people working to prevent staff from getting sick,” Hassinger shared. “When people come with their horse, we are asking that only one person joins the horse and they stay in their vehicle or walk around the 70-acre farm so practice social distancing.”
With the unknown security of job and financials, it can be dismaying to invest in vet work that is non-essential such as injections or therapeutic services. But with shows being suspended, now is a better time than ever to continue routine maintenance work on your horse to keep them in top shape and ready for when the season begins again.
“This downtime is a great time to do elective work or maintenance on your horse,” Hassinger mentioned, “there has never been a time in this country when everybody is on a level playing field where none of us can horse show.”
“Now is the time to get your horse injected, have that lameness exam, other therapeutic work because everyone is on the same level, no one can get ahead,” Hassinger said. Hassinger Equine Sports Medicine is offering discounts for some elective procedures to encourage people to take advantage of the down time and to keep their business moving.
In California, Dr. Marta Grandstedt DVM, is also experiencing the effects of COVID-19. “Most of the work I am doing is emergency work,” Grandstedt commented, “people just aren’t making elective appointments since the outbreak.”
To keep herself, her staff, and her clients safe, Dr. Grandstedt is working on the horses she knows she doesn’t need extra assistance with in order to follow social distancing. “I have an upcoming appointment that must be completed, and I told the owner, who is a breast cancer survivor, to stay at home and be safe and we will get the horse’s work done.” Granstedt said. “For all my clients, I am getting done what we can, and whatever we can’t do, that I don’t feel comfortable with, we just say no.”
“If you can manage to put all the ducks in a row, now is a great time to do treatments on your horse but you have to be able to make it all work and respect people and their safety concerns and precautions,” Grandstedt commented.