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Equestrian centres in Hampshire are cancelling Easter competitions following a case of strangles at a riding school earlier this month.

Sparsholt College has closed its equine centre to external traffic for two weeks and cancelled its unaffiliated dressage show on 26-27 March.

“We are pleased to say there are no reported cases of strangles at the college, however, in keeping with good practice within the industry and in line with our own policies, we have decided to limit movement into the centre for two weeks.  As an Ofsted-rated ‘outstanding’ centre, we take equine health and management very seriously,” said Sparsholt’s head of equine, Kathy Bamber.

The College intends to reopen the equine centre on Tuesday 29 March “once the situation has been reviewed”.

Mayhill Stud is also cancelling its unaffiliated dressage competition planned for this Sunday (20 March) following news of the outbreak.

Crofton Manor Equestrian Centre cancelled its dressage shows last weekend (12-13 March), but is planning to go ahead with its other competitions later this month.

Sole strangles case confirmed

The strangles case was confirmed in one horse at Shedfield Riding School near Southampton on 8 March.

Head girl Alice Lawrence’s 15.1hh New Forest grey gelding, Blue had been coughing for five days but his temperature was normal on Saturday 5 March.

strangles outbreak article 2

“By Sunday his temperature had shot up to 39.5 degrees, so I rang the vet and she came out and took some swabs. He had a bit of clear mucus, but it wasn’t streaming. The vet gave him some anti-inflammatories and said try some antibiotics, but by Tuesday strangles had been confirmed,” said Ms Lawrence.

“Blue is 15, has been in most of the winter and not been out competing since before Christmas. He is not a typical strangles case,” she added.

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All riding lessons and competitions at the riding school have been stopped and the hygiene measures have been implemented. Livery owner’s cars are being parked in the bottom carpark and everyone uses foot dips and hand gels before coming onto and leaving the yard.

Staff are taking the temperatures of all 59 horses twice a day and a decision over whether to take bloods from all the horses to eliminate any possible carriers is expected shortly.

“All the livery yard owners have been really supportive,” said Ms Lawrence.

Blue was kept in isolation and there have been no other cases at the riding school.

strangles outbreak article 3

Unfortunately his condition has deteriorated and the horse was taken to Liphook Equine Hospital yesterday (16 March) for further blood tests.

“He’s on a drip at the moment because he’s not eating or drinking. The vets think it is his immune system reacting to the strangles’ bacteria,” said Ms Lawrence.