It’s no exaggeration to say that 2020 has been a year. Between Covid-19 and the EHV-1 cases in southern Ontario (and protests in the US because BLACK LIVES MATTER), it’s more important than ever to do our part for biosecurity.
Industry professionals who travel barn to barn need to take extra precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to humans, and the potentially fatal threat of EHV-1 to horses.
As a working professional, hygiene is a top priority. I’ve attached a list of must-have items for massage therapists, as well as other industry professionals who must work hands-on with our horses.
- Hand sanitizer: This is a no-brainer at this point, but it is absolutely important to sterilize your hands before even getting back into your car when you are leaving a farm, and before you touch any other belongings (which includes your phone and car keys).
- A change of clothes and footwear: I realize this is not a convenient thing to have to swap in your car, but desperate times call for desperate measures. You should absolutely change your clothes between barns to protect the horses.
- Alcohol in a spray bottle: This makes it SO much easier to sterilize any equipment, like stepping stools, stethoscope, etc. Spritz the item and wipe down with a clean towel… which brings us to:
- Clean towels: And have extras. Small and large for to suit your various pieces (including even your arms).
- Sealable bags: Anything that cannot be easily cleaned goes into a bag and tucked away before the clean stuff comes out of another one. They are also handy to keep things organized.
Having these items on-hand isn’t going to be good enough though if you cross-contaminate with the clean replacements. Below, you’ll see a suggestion of “order of go” to prevent re-contaminating yourself or equipment.
- As soon as I am finished with the horse, I’ll wash my hands (and arms – let’s face it: it’s a dirty job).
- Many stables have a washroom or tackroom where you can change into clean clothes as long as you do not go near another horse or item in the barn. If not, I have a plan B in #6.
- I’ll roll up my dirty clothes and stick them in a bag, then sterilize my hands before pulling out my clean clothes.
- I carry my step stool and any other equipment to my car trunk where I keep my “gear” (ensuring it doesn’t touch my clothes while I carry it) and spray everything down with alcohol, then wipe it down with a clean towel, including the bottoms of the feet. (I save those for last so I can rest the stool sideways on my trunk to clean them.)
- The towel goes into a bag for used towels.
- If I was not able to change my clothes already, I put a towel down on my seat before I get in, and at the next available stop I can change into clean clothes and remove the towel, ensuring I sterilize my hands as mentioned above.
Admittedly, the process can be annoying at first, but when it becomes habit, it’s second nature and protecting our clients and horses is the highest priority.