MJC issues COVID-19 backstretch protocols

The Maryland Jockey Club has issued the following backstretch protocols in regard to coronavirus (COVID-19). It is requested that everyone follow the protocols for the health and safety of our backstretch community.


We ask that trainers designate only one person from your barn to interact with veterinarians and farriers to limit the human to human exposure.

Please do your best to keep as much distance between you and your veterinarians as possible—for all our safety. We realize that leaving the horse on a loose shank is not going to be possible with every horse, but try to stand on the other side of the horse from the veterinarian and create as much distance as possible.

We recommend that all private veterinarians and farriers consider enforcing similar measures as they move from barn to barn during this time.


Currently, there is no evidence to indicate that horses or other pets such as cats and dogs can become ill with COVID-19 or spread it to other animals or people per the most current American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.

It is important to limit human to human contact. Consider whether you can limit the number of staff in the barn to essential staff or stagger shifts to ensure that there are as few people as possible in the barn at any one time. While this may not be convenient or how things are usually done, decreasing the number of people in an area is crucial to decrease the spread of this virus. It is advisable for each trainer to have one or two designated individuals to work with veterinarians, farriers, and other outside individuals to minimize contact with as few of your staff as possible.

Limit the number of individuals allowed in the tack room or office at any one time. Six feet is the minimum recommended distance between people. If your staff can touch one another with fully extended arms, they are too close.

Consider assigning equipment to specific barn personnel. For example, each hot walker should have their own shank with their name on it. When stored, it should not be stored with other equipment until it is cleaned and sanitized. Other examples of equipment that should be limited to being touched by one person or as few people as possible:

  • Each horse's water and feed buckets
  • Cross ties and stall ties
  • Grooming supplies
  • Tack: Wipe down or soak bridles, girths, etc., before and after use
  • Halters
  • Wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes and brooms

Additionally, each of the above should be sprayed, soaked, or wiped daily. Also have the following areas cleaned often throughout the day:

  • Doorknobs
  • Stall clips and gates
  • Barn door handles 
  • Light switches
  • Counters and desks

COVID-19 is easily killed in the environment with most disinfectants—if we use them. Consider using the following:

  • Lysol spray or a similar spray
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Diluted nolvasan, povidone-iodine, bleach or chlorhexidine
  • Soap and water: A bucket of soap and water continuously available for hand-washing or rinsing is convenient and effective but it must be changed regularly if dirt or manure gets into it

The MJC has placed multiple hand-washing stations throughout the stable area. Trainers are encouraged to set up one or more sanitizing stations for your barn. The easier it is for people to keep things clean and disinfected, the more likely they are to do so.

Reminder: If you or any of your staff feel unwell, please do not come to work.

Purse Release