An annual assessment of non-infectious diseases that affect UK horses is planned after a successful two-year pilot scheme.
Under the 10-year Equine Health and Welfare Strategy (EHWS) to improve welfare, the UK’s five main equine charities set out to ascertain whether data on problems like parasites, colic and lameness could be collected.
The results were processed by the Blue Cross.
Rosie Mogford of the Blue Cross told H&H: “For two years we have looked at the diseases affecting horses in UK rescue centres. And we can already see trends and changes.
“A survey of 1,755 horses is not going to give a 100 per cent accurate picture, but is a start.”
Professor Josh Slater, who heads the EHWS, said: “This is one of the most exciting projects around.
He hopes that the annual report can be used to target research and veterinary training.
The charities monitored the health of their horses during May, June and July, from foals to 40-year-olds, new rescues to the fully recovered looking for rehoming.
“This could be linked to the increasing numbers of neglected horses being taken in by charities under the powers of the new Animal Welfare Act,” said Blue Cross spokesman Laura Dobson.
Lee Hackett, welfare spokesman for the British Horse Society, said: “This information could be particularly useful in targeting disease prevention and education. We really want to see this idea develop.”
• If your yard would like to take part in the 2010 survey, tel: 01993 825607
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (1 October, ’09)