Protect your horse from infectious disease at events

From showing to dressage, gymkhana to fun rides, events are part of life for many horse owners, but they can also be a chance for infectious disease to spread.

Redwings knows that many owners worry about the risk of picking up disease at an event. In our 2016 strangles survey, many people told us they felt unable to control risk when mixing with other horses and people:

“I attend events so feel ‘at risk’ as I am exposing my horse to people who I cannot control”

“I’m not sure how to prevent spread at events”

“At home you can mostly control things, however this changes when you attend events as you are not in control of other people’s actions”

“Taking my horse to events worries me”

But reducing risk might be easier than you think, and as part of our Stamp Out Strangles campaign, Redwings has produced a handy poster to help you Steer Clear of Strangles at Events.

Download your copy of the poster here.

There are just five simple steps that anyone taking their horse to an event can use to help significantly reduce the risk of picking up strangles or another infectious disease.

As strangles is a disease that spreads through contact, taking steps to prevent bacteria being passed from horse to horse is more straightforward than with an airborne virus such as equine flu (please see our separate blog on flu for more advice on this particular disease by clicking here). Strangles can spread through direct contact between horses, but also from contaminated hands, clothes, water, equipment, tack, housing, transport or grazing.

Strangles is a respiratory infection, so sick horses shed bacteria through their nose and mouth, but it is important to remember that not all infectious horses look unwell. Horses can be contagious before they show signs of illness and remain infectious for up to six weeks after symptoms have disappeared.

Equally invisible are strangles carriers, who can have live bacteria hidden in their respiratory system months or years after recovering from the disease. Carriers can shed disease intermittently and trigger a strangles outbreak at any time without showing any sign that they are the source of infection. Owners are usually completely unaware that their horse is infected:

“I owned my pony from three years old, competed him all over the UK and Ireland… sold him as a nine year old and only recently heard that he was a strangles carrier!” (respondent to Redwings’ strangles survey)

Redwings’ award-winning Stamp Out Strangles campaign is helping to protect all horses from the UK’s most common infectious disease by:

  • Encouraging better biosecurity – often just using simple steps like those on our poster!
  • Asking horse owners to help prevent strangles carriers developing, as part of our Horse Owner Pledge
  • Helping yards to screen new horses to help identify and treat existing strangles carriers through our Yard Manager Pledge

For more information about the Stamp Out Strangles campaign, lots more advice on how to protect horses from infectious disease just head to the Redwings Strangles Hub.

Do you want to help raise biosecurity standards and protect horses from infectious disease? You really can make a difference by taking the Stamp Out Strangles pledge and sharing it on social media with your horsey friends and neighbours to get everyone working together for better horse health.