Let’s Discuss: What Do Shelter in Place/Stay at Home Orders Mean for Boarders?

We want to hear from you! What are the implications of the shelter in place and stay at home directives for those who board their horses?


Shelter in place and stay at home orders have been issued in states and counties across the nation. Although these directives differ from place to place, the gist is that residents need to remain at home unless they are venturing out for essentials (such as groceries, medicine or medical emergencies) or going to work, if their place of employment is deemed life-sustaining.

So what does that mean for those of us who board our horses? That’s a question on the minds of many and a rather hot button issue for some. Some states and counties allow for exercise and getting outside in their mandates — as long as you’re maintaining your social distance, of course. And nearly every directive deems agriculture/animal care as essential. So where does this leave horse owners? Especially those of us who board? Caring for our horses is necessary. Does this care go beyond simply providing food and shelter? What are our rights as horse owners and how do these translate to us as boarders?

One of our readers wrote to us, bringing up these very points:

“In my area, the department of agriculture has indicated horse owners should have a level of access to their horses as it is in the best interest of the horses. That said, [some] barn owners seem angry about this policy and I see many have taken to social media to shame and humiliate horse owners that show up during this time, deeming us ‘non essential.’   

While I understand stress and fear can create a mob-like atmosphere, this is a time when horse and barn owners should be working together for the good of the horses. These attitudes expose deep-seated beliefs regarding horse care and the role of owners. I believe good horse care goes beyond food and water (assuming you believe that will be faithfully done!). Horses require interaction, watching for behavioral changes, identifying wounds, an abscess etc.. early before they become potentially life-threatening or debilitating. Good owners play an important role in the care of horses. [Some] have implemented policies to keep owners outside the barn, accessing horses and tack from outside the barn and practicing social distancing, etc.”

These are uncharted waters we’re navigating and answers are hard to find. So we’re putting it back to our community: chime in with your thoughts and experiences in the comments section on our Facebook post. As boarders, should we be able to visit our horses, aid in their care during this time of uncertainty and possibly ride?

Please remember that we are a community, unified by our passion for horses. Let’s treat one another with respect as we try to have an open and frank conversation.