Horse owners unite to fight infectious disease

Hundreds of horse owners and yard managers have vowed to fight infectious equine disease across the UK by pledging support to Redwings’ Stamp Out Strangles campaign.

The charity launched its pledge on strangles last November, asking the horse world to join forces to promote best biosecurity practice to help rid the country of strangles for good.

Since then, more than 370 owners have signed up, agreeing to champion better biosecurity measures, communicate openly if their horse could have been in contact with strangles and clear horses of being carriers if they become infected.

The 99 yard managers who have pledged their support have promised to reduce the risk of strangles by screening new arrivals, creating yard protocols for clients and responding immediately if strangles is suspected.

Redwings is “thrilled” by the response, as those who have signed up show a “clear appetite for change”, especially in the wake of this year’s equine flu outbreaks.

The charity’s education and campaigns manager Andie Vilela said: “We’re thrilled not just by the level of support but also the conversations about biosecurity that have arisen from it. So many people have shared stories of their experiences with strangles and the stigma they’ve faced – some particularly heartbreaking – demonstrating a clear desire for meaningful change to happen.

“A recent survey we conducted of livery yards showed 68% have some form of screening process, which is really encouraging. But just 13% of horse owners said they take measures to protect their horses so we know there’s a lot more to be done.”

The campaign aims to provide accessible, practical advice, information and resources, to “make it as simple as possible for yard managers and horse owners to work together to proactively improve hygiene practices”.

“With equine flu hitting the headlines, more people are talking about the importance of good biosecurity so don’t get left behind,” Ms Vilela added.

All those who sign up get regular updates and tips, while the charity is also planning a year of events and activities highlighting the importance of good biosecurity, including veterinary seminars and a national day of action.

Horse owners can also access a map of yards which have signed up to the pledge so they can see which businesses are committed to helping protect their horse from strangles.

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Rob Richardson, owner of Whiterails Livery in Norfolk, signed up to the pledge.

Mr Richardson said: “With new housing, we’re getting lots of new people moving into the area and bringing their horses. I went along to one of Redwings’ strangles seminars and realised we should be doing more about our biosecurity. Our former yard manager had already put measures in place but the campaign has helped us look at what we were doing and build on it.

“Good biosecurity is so important. If we had strangles, it would close us down for a long time – you can’t be too careful. I hope this campaign goes on to inspire others to do more.”

For more information, visit the Redwings website.

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