The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting stay-at-home directives, adopted out of necessity to protect human health, introduced significant challenges for horse owners and small equine businesses. Restricted access, and in many cases closure of barns, resulted in a multitude of questions and concerns within the equine community which needed to be addressed rapidly. Extension Horses, Inc. (EH) coordinated the development and delivery of a variety of educational resources utilizing a combination of online formats and dissemination through social media and EH member contact lists. A series of infographics, webinars, and podcasts (three in each category) were created to provide guidance on essential care of horses, emergency preparedness, financial assistance, legal concerns, and biosecurity during the crucial, initial weeks of the pandemic (March to April 2020). Web conferencing technology (Zoom) was used to facilitate discussion and task delegation among EH members and to conduct and record webinars and podcasts. Podcasts were hosted on Buzzsprout and infographics were created using Adobe InDesign. Live webinar participants were invited to participate in several polls during the webinar and were sent a brief survey to complete at the end of the webinar series. Analytics for all educational resources combined demonstrated a 32-d total direct reach of 135,563. Most live webinar participants identified themselves as horse owners and small equine business owners (55%). The majority of live webinar participants indicated the information was useful (99%), and they would utilize the resources they had learned about (80%). Survey respondents reported that Facebook, email, and word of mouth were key ways in which they learned about the webinars. The same survey found that the web-platform was an effective method to receive information (85% high satisfaction) and respondents were highly likely to recommend future EH webinars to others (88%). The three infographics had a total Facebook reach of 131,765, the webinars had 3,522 total views, and the three podcasts had 276 total downloads. The rapid response of EH and quick turnaround of products allowed a large online audience to receive vital information for coping with COVID-19. Having the established EH network, already familiar with virtual education, was a big asset in this effort. This can serve as a model for cooperative extension to utilize in future collaborative responses to industry issues.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology