It’s official. The most common veterinary problem afflicting British horses is lameness, according to research for the country’s first National Equine Health Survey.

Some 3,120 horseowners completed a survey via the Blue Cross charity’s website last winter as part of the National Equine Welfare Council’s 10-year strategy to improve horse welfare in the UK.

The results were revealed at the horse industry’s annual National Equine Forum, on Tuesday (8 March).

Lameness was the most common problem, affecting 11% of horses, with weight the next biggest issue, with 9% of horses recorded as overweight and 8% underweight.

Though these figures are at odds with other recent research by the University of Nottingham, which suggested that 50% of horses are overweight (news, 3 February), the Blue Cross pointed out that the information was supplied by owners themselves and thus subjective.

Skin disease and wounds — at 5% and 4% respectively — are also common issues, as is colic (2%), with a 6:1 ratio between medical and surgical cases. But laminitis (3%) was less prevalent than believed.

“This data has never been collected before,” said Professor Josh Slater, of the Royal Veterinary College, who worked with the Blue Cross on the survey.

Following the success of the survey, the Blue Cross will collect data twice a year and is urging horse owners to sign up for the next survey, from 9-15 May.

To register online, visit www.bluecross.org.uk/NEHS