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New videos show potentially devastating impact of strangles

The collaboration behind the highly successful Strangles Awareness Week (6-12 May 2024) has released new videos, showing both the resilience of two owners whose horses became very unwell with Strangles, and highlighting the experiences of yard and equestrian event venue owners managing the disease.

The videos feature horses and owners from Ivesley Equestrian in County Durham, who experienced a Strangles outbreak in June 2023, and were not given the final all-clear from infection until November. In total, six of the 48 horses stabled there tested positive for the disease, a figure which could have been much higher had it not been for the swift actions and robust biosecurity measures introduced to manage the outbreak.

Owner Kath Bennett shares the experience she went through when her 10-year-old Andalusian, Argento, suffered severe Strangles abscessation and was isolated for four and a half months before he tested negative for the infection. Fellow livery Claire Webster tells how her Oldenburg gelding Otto, who is rising four, was so unwell he was admitted to Rainbow Equine Hospital for treatment.

Claire said: “Strangles is something that we thought would never affect us, but Otto ended up so poorly that he was in hospital for nine days, five of those spent in ICU. His abscesses were impinging on his swallow reflex so he couldn’t eat or drink. He needed to be tube fed and was on IV fluids.

“I think Otto’s story really opened everyone’s eyes as to how quickly Strangles can bring a young and healthy horse to so nearly losing his battle with the illness.”

The Strangles Awareness Week team have also produced a video, and a podcast, featuring Jonathan Cleaver, co-owner of Ivesley Equestrian, in conversation with Abigail Turnbull, co-owner of Richmond Equestrian Centre who experienced their own outbreak in 2018. They share their Strangles experiences, and particularly the critical need for preparation, transparency, and community cooperation to mitigate the impact of equine infectious diseases.

The pair also speak candidly about the financial implications of their outbreak, both on their livery yards and equestrian events businesses. Jonathan said: “The first thing I heard after I found out about our outbreak was someone asking for a refund for their competition entry, only about 15 minutes after Strangles had even been identified. For weeks afterwards it felt like we just haemorrhaged money, and we were very lucky to not be in the position where we faced selling off land or losing our home.

“It is so important to be clued up on biosecurity and the latest Strangles research and management, as you are only ever as strong as your weakest point.”

The Strangles Awareness Week collaboration includes The British Horse Society and other charities, academics as well as industry professionals, and works to raise awareness of the infectious disease and shares the latest practical guidance on preventing and managing a Strangles outbreak. This year they are urging the equestrian community to give their horses the BEST protection from Strangles:

  • Boost immunity by vaccinating against Strangles
  • Educate yourself and others
  • Separate new horses
  • Temperature check routinely

Throughout the week, there will be practical, informative content shared across the BHS’s social media platforms to show horse owners how to implement this into their horse care routine.

Click here for more information about Strangles Awareness Week 2024

Watch Otto's story here. 

Watch Argento's story here.