One of Britain’s leading event riders Piggy March has given her support to this year’s Strangles Awareness Week and is encouraging all owners to take part in the ‘Temperature Check Challenge’ in a new video.
The British Horse Society has joined forces with leading equine welfare charities, vets, researchers and higher education institutions from around the world*, to organise the week (2nd – 8th May) - now in its third year – with the aim of educating people about the highly contagious equine disease strangles and helping to prevent an outbreak.
This year, owners are being asked to take the ‘Temperature Check Challenge’ by taking their horse’s resting temperature each day and inputting the reading into a free online checker which will help them get to know their horse’s normal range - something that fluctuates by a fraction of a degree through the day according to a range of factors. A high temperature is an early warning sign that your horse may have been infected with strangles – and will become infectious to other horses - so getting to know what your horse’s ‘normal’** temperature, and variation, is could prevent an outbreak.
Piggy’s video, which aims to give horse owners tips and confidence if taking their horse’s temperature for the first time, and featuring Cooley Lancer aka Swiss Roll, has been launched across the #SAW2022 social media platforms.
Piggy said: “It does take a bit of pre-planning the first time you take your horse’s temperature and owners might be nervous, but it is such an easy, and effective, way to monitor your horse’s health once you’ve done it a few times with attention to making it a positive experience for the horse.
“A lot of horse owners only take their horse’s temperature when their horse is unwell but it’s such an important indicator as to your horse’s health and, whilst fever can indicate ill health for a range of reasons, it is an early warning sign that a horse has a contagious disease like strangles.
“Strangles can be very serious for a horse, and an outbreak can be debilitating for whole yards, so it’s essential that we take every opportunity to limit its transmission and allow activities to continue while responding promptly and responsibly to ill horses.
“That’s why I wanted to lend my support. I have some great people who usually do this for me in my yard, so it was the first time I’d taken one of my horse’s temperatures myself for a long time and never with Swiss Roll! I hope it gives others confidence to do the same and use the temp check challenge to hone a new habit.”
People taking the challenge will be entered into a free prize draw and contribute to a database of temperatures that will help to understand what a normal healthy range is in horses.
Strangles is the most commonly diagnosed equine infectious disease worldwide with around 600 cases reported in the UK every year. Symptoms of the contagious respiratory illness range from high fever, thick nasal discharge, depression, cough, painful abscesses, laboured breathing and difficulty eating. In severe cases, strangles can pose a risk to the horse’s life.
Piggy’s video is available to watch now on YouTube.
To find out more about Strangles Awareness Week, the Temperature Check Challenge and other ways to get involved, please follow the SAW Facebook page or go to www.redwings.org.uk/strangles/strangles-awareness-week
For more information on Strangles, how to spot the signs, and actions to take, view The BHS advice at the following link: bhs.org.uk/advice-and-information/horse-health-and-sickness/strangles
*To find out more about the other organisations involved in SAW 2022, please visit:
Keeping Britain’s Horses Healthy
MSD Animal Health
Redwings Horse Sanctuary
Royal GD – Netherlands
Royal Veterinary College
Scotland’s Rural College/Premium Assured Strangles Scheme
Surveillance of Equine Strangles
Statens veterinärmedicinska anstalt (National Veterinary Institute)
University of Edinburgh
World Horse Welfare
** Normal range varies, and we hope the Temperature Check Challenge will contribute to greater consistency in message about healthy normal range.