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The owner of the biggest equestrian centre in the north of Scotland has told H&H she is “devastated” after being forced to cancel all events in April following a strangles outbreak.

A case of strangles — which is highly contagious and effects the respiratory system — was confirmed at The Cabin Equestrian Centre, near Inveruie, last week (25 March).

The Aberdeenshire centre immediately called off all of its April shows — which included dressage and showjumping events.

“We had one case of strangles confirmed (not pictured) and immediately afterwards put the yard into temporary shut down. We have taken veterinary advice and can assure everyone we will not reopen until we are clear,” said Fiona Quennell, who owns The Cabin with her husband, Morgan.

Mrs Quennell has shared the news on the centre’s Facebook page and has reassured riders who have booked a show stable that they will be reimbursed.

“We are absolutely devastated, it’s our life’s work and our livelihood,” she told H&H.

The Cabin was a run as a riding school before the Quennells opened it in 2009 as the largest combined equestrian facility in the north of Scotland.

The centre has two outdoor and two indoor arenas and runs a year-round programme of British Showjumping (BS), British Dressage (BD), arena eventing and unaffiliated shows. It has 30 horses on site.

April is one of the busiest months for the centre. There was a BS and BD show scheduled and a two-day showing extravaganza with national qualifiers.

The centre has not confirmed whether the shows will be rescheduled.

Mrs Quennell said there have been other strangles outbreaks in Aberdeenshire.

Following concerns there has been a temporary halt to all clinics held at cross-country courses and equestrian training centres in the area.

“Everything has stopped and we are really worried but realise everyone is taking precautions and being upfront and transparent about it,” said one local rider, who preferred not to be named.

Bristol-based event rider Dani Evans has also been forced to place her yard into quarantine following a confirmed case on 27 February.

Symptoms of strangles

> A horse suffering from strangles will typically have a temperature (above 38.5°C), depression with a loss of appetite and thick, yellow mucus draining from both nostrils. Hot, painful abscesses may develop on the sides of the head and throat, which may burst and discharge pus. The horse may experience difficulty eating or extending his head, due to the discomfort in its throat, hence the name strangles.

Strangles can sometimes produce more subtle signs in a healthy adult horse, who may only display a slight short-term increase in temperature, a brief loss of appetite and a clear nasal discharge. But if you suspect your horse may have strangles, it should be immediately isolated and veterinary advice sought.