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Survey to glean horse health overview in Britain

Equine infectious diseases and the questions on ragwort are among the topics that are the focus of the upcoming National Equine Health Survey in Britain.

Leading equestrian organisations have pledged their support for the survey, from May 18 to 24, which is organised by pet charity Blue Cross, in partnership with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) and supported by Zoetis and Spillers.

This year, with support from the Equine Disease Coalition, the survey contains new questions on equine infectious diseases, the surveillance measures of which are currently under government scrutiny. It also contains new questions on ragwort, which is causing growing alarm amongst equine health and welfare organisations.

Ragwort causes liver damage in horses.

Questions on ragwort are among the topics in the upcoming National Equine Health Survey in Britain.

The quick, easy and anonymous online snapshot survey records common health issues in horses, directly from horse owners themselves. Results help build a picture of the health and disease in the UK and define priorities for future research, training and education. Major equestrian organisations have committed their support for the survey this year, including the British Equestrian Federation, The Horse Trust, Redwings, and the RSPCA.

Blue Cross has recently had first hand experience of infectious disease management. By following rigorous biosecurity procedures the charity successfully minimised two outbreaks of strangles when infected horses had to be urgently admitted to the charity last year. The new survey questions have been devised with the help of BEVA and the Equine Disease Coalition to help to find out more about yard biosecurity measures and the potential risks associated with horses coming from Europe.

David Mountford, Chief Executive of BEVA, said: “In the face of Defra’s plans to downgrade the disease status of Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM) and Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) it is more important than ever that the UK equine industry can demonstrate that it is taking its share of responsibility for equine health. Your time in completing the survey is tangible evidence of the industry’s willingness to work together and will lend weight to the efforts being made to force the Government to change tack on the status of CEM and EVA.”

The other two additional questions cover ragwort control in the face of the proliferation of this toxic plant in the UK and the potentially fatal health hazard that it presents.

Gemma Taylor, Education Officer at Blue Cross urged horse owners to spare just five minutes to compete the survey.

“This year the NEHS is more even important than ever, which is reflected by the fact that so many of our major equestrian bodies and charities have already signed up to take part. It’s only with help from all of you that we can make NEHS bigger and more valuable than ever.”

Those taking part will be entered in a draw to win prizes including a Jefferies Bridle, Olympia Tickets, an Arthur Carter Hay steamer and many other items.

All owners and keepers of horses are being urged to participate in the NEHS when it runs from May 18 – 24.

To register, go to www.bluecross.org.uk/NEHS or email NEHS@bluecross.org.uk to find out more.

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