Ambassadors sought to help raise strangles awareness and end stigma

  • The organisations behind Strangles Awareness Week are looking for ambassadors to help promote awareness of the disease on social media and tackle the stigma attached to outbreaks.

    The annual initiative will take place this year from 3-9 May and aims to provide horse owners, yard managers, vets and equine professionals with a platform to share their own stories and promote support for those affected by the disease.

    The campaign is a combined effort from the British Horse Society, Intervacc, Keeping Britain’s Horses Healthy, Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Scotland’s Rural College’s Premium Assured Strangles Scheme (PASS), Surveillance of Equine Strangles (SES), The (Dick) Royal School of Veterinary Studies and World Horse Welfare.

    People interested in promoting the initiative can join the list of ambassadors by emailing campaigns@redwings.co.uk.

    Strangles is the most prevalent equine disease in Britain but many yard and horse owners are hesitant to discuss cases for fear it may harm their reputation.

    A survey conducted by the Strangles Awareness Week collaborative last year found 75% of respondents believed that talking publicly about the disease could lead people to “suspect an issue”, ultimately damaging their business.

    This perception can lead to yard owners’ having to deal with the emotional and financial consequences of a strangles outbreak in silence, as well as stopping people from seeking help and advice.

    Redwings’ campaign manager Andie McPherson said: “When people hear of a strangles outbreak in their area, we want the first reaction to be one of support, not judgement. Strangles can happen to any horse yet sadly there is still so much stigma attached to it which stops people speaking out and allows the disease to continue to spread.

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    “Using the platform of Strangles Awareness Week, we hope as many people as possible will share our free practical information about strangles and feel empowered to talk about their experiences, so we can then start to shift attitudes and hopefully see less horses, owners and businesses facing the misery of dealing with an outbreak.”

    This year’s campaign will feature a series of podcasts with people from across the equestrian industry sharing their experiences of the disease. There will also be free resources and support for those who may be tackling outbreaks.

    Dave Rendle, British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) junior vice-president and chair of the BEVA health and medicines committee, said: “Strangles should be easy to control. With a little more understanding of the disease, we could make massive strides to protect our horses and prevent the disease spreading. Every horse owner should spare an hour or two to tune into Strangles Awareness Week.”

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