Dear Maryland Horse Community,
First and foremost, we sincerely hope you, your families, and your beloved horses are safe and healthy as we face some of the most unprecedented times in modern history. The COVID-19 crisis has affected every aspect of our local horse community and it is our responsibility as the Maryland Horse Council to provide you with the most relevant and up-to-date information. You can easily find all official information from our governor and the state here. We will continue to update this page with new information and guidance as it is received:
March 24, 2020
On behalf of the Governor, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has released a statement clarifying essential business operations for the horse industry. We remind you that Governor Hogan requested at his press conference yesterday that “unless you have an essential reason to leave your house, you need to stay home.”
This statement deems care of horses the sole essential activity of a horse farm and allows self-care boarders to continue to provide care during this time.
The full statement is pasted and linked below. If you think your business should be considered essential, please use this link to make a request:
Statement to Horse Industry in Response to Executive Order on Non-Essential Businesses
Governor Larry Hogan ordered all non-essential businesses to close by 5 p.m. March 23, 2020. While farms and the agriculture and food supply chains are considered essential, commercial and recreational riding centers and stables should prepare to suspend their operations to the public. Horse care, boarding facilities and other operations that provide self-care boarding for privately-owned horses are considered essential and should continue operations while implementing safety measures that promote social distancing and other best practices.
See the Maryland Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information. Any questions related to specific businesses can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you think your business should be considered essential, please use this link to make a request:
March 23, 2020
WE ARE WORKING WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO GET ANSWERS TO YOUR SPECIFIC QUESTIONS, SPECIFICALLY ABOUT WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVITIES ARE ALLOWED AT BOARDING FACILITIES BY NON-CARE GIVING STAFF, INCLUDING VISITATION OF HORSES, RIDING WHILE ON-SITE, AND ACCOMPANYING FARM OPERATORS/CARE GIVING STAFF DURING VETERINARY AND FARRIER APPOINTMENTS, ETC. WE WILL PUSH OUT THOSE ANSWERS TO YOU AS SOON AS WE HAVE THEM.
Governor Larry Hogan held another press conference this morning to issue a new Executive Order closing all non-essential Maryland businesses, organizations, establishments, and facilities at 5pm on Monday, March 23rd. This new order closes all other businesses not defined by federal guidelines as critical infrastructure sectors. Agriculture is considered a critical infrastructure sector. We are awaiting additional insight from the Maryland Department of Agriculture, expected later this afternoon, on the specifics of equine related operations permissible at this time. Care of your equines is considered an essential activity per guidance received from the Maryland Department of Agriculture on Sunday, March 22nd.
We are fielding a number of questions specifically related to the permissible activities at boarding operations. At this time, lesson programs, camps, clinics, horse shows, and other social and sporting activities and events are deemed non-essential. Additional guidance specific to the number and permissible activities of people allowed on the property of a facility strictly used for boarding horses is forthcoming.
Governor Hogan also stated that at this time, he is not ordering a “shelter-in-place” mandate but said, “unless you have an essential reason to leave your house, you need to stay home.”
Governor Hogan, in conjunction with Commerce Secretary Schulz and Labor Secretary Robinson, announced several business relief programs including the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund and the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund. Information on these programs can be found here: https://govstatus.egov.com/md-coronavirus-business.
Additional information on how Marylanders can help during the COVID-19 crisis can be found at: https://governor.maryland.gov/marylandunites/.
At this time, it is highly recommended for all Marylanders, including horse owners, to follow Governor Hogan’s request to stay home. We will update the horse community as soon as more specifics are released by MDA.
Please click here for more COVID-19 information that includes useful links to federal guidelines and previous communications from the Maryland Horse Council. https://mdhorsecouncil.org/mhc-news/item/335-essential-covid-19-information-for-maryland-s-horse-community
March 21, 2020
We have been receiving a number of questions during this time about animal care and if there would be restrictions during a potential lockdown. Here is some guidance from Homeland Security that we have pulled together:
There is specific recognition that animal care, including suppliers of feed and bedding, are considered essential on a federal level. But states can make additional rules.
"• FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
• Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies and other retail that sells food and beverage products
• Restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations - Carry-out and delivery food employees
• Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing
(packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging
• Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labor needed to produce our food supply domestically
• Farm workers and support service workers to include those who field crops; commodity inspection; fuel ethanol facilities; storage facilities; and other agricultural inputs
• Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor- managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers
• Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail
• Company cafeterias - in-plant cafeterias used to feed employees
• Workers in food testing labs in private industries and in institutions of higher education
• Workers essential for assistance programs and government payments
• Employees of companies engaged in the production of chemicals, medicines, vaccines, and other substances used by the food and agriculture industry, including pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, minerals, enrichments, and other agricultural production aids
• Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc.; transportation of live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; raising of animals for food; animal production operations; slaughter and packing plants and associated regulatory and government workforce
• Workers who support the manufacture and distribution of forest products, including, but not limited to timber, paper, and other wood products
• Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution."
Please see these additional government resources:
1. IDENTIFYING CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE DURING COVID-19
2. MEMORANDUM ON IDENTIFICATION OF ESSENTIAL CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORKERS DURING COVID-19 RESPONSE
3. Homeland Security Recognizes Agriculture as Critical Industry
March 18, 2020
Illegal Activities - Fines & Jail Time
As of today, March 18th, the ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people remains in effect. This means that any event larger than 10 people (e.g. horse shows, clinics, larger trail rides, conferences, etc.) is illegal under current Maryland law. Willful violation of the ban could result in fines up to $5000 and imprisonment of up to one year.Equine Related Injuries - ERs & Hospitals
During this time, please exercise extreme caution in your own equine activities. Think twice about doing anything that might increase your risk of injury. The state continues to face shortages in the medical community including reduced inpatient beds, availability of doctors, and sterile medical environments free of possible COVID-19 contamination. Trips to the ER increase your risk of contracting disease, and you may also be taking up medical resources that are needed by very sick people.
Social Distancing for Stables - Best Practices
The CDC and WHO also suggest the practice of social distancing. This should apply to all activities including equestrian activities at your farms, barns, and other agricultural buildings. Please ensure:
1. A minimum space barrier of 6 feet between yourself and other people at all times. (e.g. no giving leg ups, no riding side by side, etc.)
2. No more than 10 people in an area or present at an activity at one time.
3. Sanitization of all common surfaces, supplies, and other items.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A person CAN contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it. The virus can survive from several hours up to a week or more on surfaces, depending on the type of surface, and the temperature and humidity. https://www.prevention.com/health/a31405079/how-long-does-coronavirus-live-on-surfaces/
These objects found in and around your farms include but are not limited to:
1. Tack and Apparel- Bridles, Saddles, Girths, Saddle Pads, Wraps, Helmets, Boots, and all other Leather and Cloth items.
2. Communal Barn Supplies- Pitch forks, Wheelbarrows, Hoses, Grooming equipment, etc.
3. Rest room, tack room, feed room door knobs, light switches, etc.
We strongly advise you consider this when making decisions to continue your lesson programs and invite individuals including boarders to your facilities. You can find a list of disinfectant products that are effective in killing the COVID-19 virus here: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-03/documents/sars-cov-2-list_03-03-2020.pdf
Business Insurance - Loss of Income Clauses
If you own a business and are or expect to suffer a significant loss of revenue, we encourage you to check your business insurance policy for loss of income clauses and any recourse during a declared national or state of emergency.
Horse Care & Welfare - Available Resources
Finally, all members of the Maryland equestrian community should start thinking about how we can be prepared to help our fellow equestrians and their horses as the economic impact of the pandemic widens and is felt locally. If owners can no longer afford to care for their horses, the Maryland Horse Council, METS, and The Equiery along with the Maryland Fund for Horses can help with suggestions and options, before horses become abandoned or go without hay or feed.
We are your source for all Maryland horse information and we are your voice in Annapolis. Stay safe, be communicative on our social media pages, and keep us informed of any news in your communities! We will continue to closely monitor the information regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and relay relevant new information in a timely manner.
Neil Agate Carrie Hull
President Executive Director
Maryland Horse Council Maryland Horse Council