Disease can be a real threat to any horse, pony or donkey (or their hybrid) and can seriously impact their health and welfare. Disease outbreaks can be costly, especially if it affects a business such as a riding school and the whole yard can be on ‘lock down’ for weeks, or even months.
The British Horse Society urge all horse owners, riders, carers and managers to take simple steps to help prevent the spread of disease at home and when out and about.
Additional steps to help prevent the spread of disease at events
- If your horse or another horse on your yard is showing any signs of not being well, they should not be taken to any events. It is bitterly disappointing if this happens, but the welfare of the horse must always come first
- Vaccinate, as a minimum against equine influenza and tetanus, and keep them up to date. Check the latest vaccination and hygiene requirements with the venue/member body you’re competing with. Don’t attend if you do not feel comfortable about the measures the organisers have put in place to reduce the risk of disease
- Take your own water supply - don’t allow your horse to drink from communal water sources as strangles bacteria can remain in water for weeks
- Avoid sharing equipment
- Only handle your own horse, or wash hands after touching other horses
- Don’t allow your horse to make direct contact with another horse
- Avoid grazing your horse at the venue as a diseased horse may have grazed there beforehand
- Clean and disinfect transport and equipment when you return home
- Make the event organiser aware if your horse becomes unwell at, or 21 days after, an event so they can warn other competitors
- Monitor your horse closely for 21 days after the event, including daily temperature checking to spot problems early
Additional steps to help prevent disease being brought onto your yard
- Quarantine new arrivals to your yard for ideally a minimum of 21 days
- Quarantine means no direct or indirect contact between a new horse and other animals or their equipment. Monitor the horse closely and take their temperature daily to help spot problems early
- A strangles carrier looks healthy on the outside but carries bacteria with the potential to infect others. To help prevent a strangles carrier from entering your yard, speak with your vet to screen all new arrivals. This can usually be done by blood test. Further investigation and testing may be required depending on the result
IN THE EVENT OF AN OUTBREAK
If you are concerned that a horse may be ill, isolate them immediately and contact your vet.
Set up a designated, isolated area so people know not to go near or touch the horse.
Closely monitor the horse and how much they are drinking and eating.
Implement the traffic light system to colour code horses on the yard into the following groups:
Red – Isolate suspected or confirmed cases in a group away from other horses on the yard
Amber – Isolate horses that may have had contact with suspected or confirmed cases in the past three weeks
Green – Group horses that have had no known contact with suspected or confirmed cases for at least three weeks.
Isolate those horses in the red and amber groups. Although this could potentially involve a larger number of horses, it is much better to be safe than sorry.
Colour coordinate their equipment, so everything is kept within the relevant colour zone.
For further information use our guide in Strategy to Eradicate and Prevent Strangles
It’s important that horses are not moved from the affected premises, they may be harbouring a disease but not yet showing any signs.
Work closely with your vet and ensure that no horse is moved out of isolation until they are confirmed as being completely disease free.
Speak out to help prevent further disease spread. Warn other yards in your area and any visitors to your yard, for example a farrier. We should commend and support those yards who take this action.
Remember, every step you take will help decrease the risk of disease spread. Prevention is better than cure.
To request your free A4 or A5 disease prevention poster/flyer or advisory leaflets contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02476 840517