Keeping your horse healthy – a guide to disease prevention

our horses in the UK are facing a growing threat from disease this growing threat is coming around because also ideas getting more popular over 4 million people ride in the UK every year making it more popular than cricket and fishing our horses are being transported around the country across Europe and indeed around the world more and more often so this threat comes from the diseases that are already with us today but also new exotic diseases these new exotic diseases have been highlighted graphically in January of this year when for the first time in over 30 years we had a case of swamp fever in Wiltshire Swamp fever is called equine infectious anemia the threat of disease and the implications of disease can be quite horrific both for the individual horse owner for a yard and indeed for a whole country so what we want to stress in this short video is what you can do as a horse owner to protect your horses in some ways we are quite fortunate with horses that they suffer from a smaller range of infectious disease than some other species we deal with however some of the infectious diseases they do contract are extremely contagious for instance strangles which can spread very rapidly through the horse population and others are sporadic and rare but are very very serious if an individual horse contracts it for instance tetanus which can easily prove to be fatal and so I think that horse owners as well as having a duty of care to their own individual animal should really consider their duty of care to the wider horse population in terms of trying to minimize transmission of infectious diseases in terms of some fairly basic things you can do which will have some definite positive actions in the event of a disease outbreak and also make your vet job easier or to record perhaps a health diary of your horse and some basic health observations and then if there is an infectious disease problem there will potentially be some useful clues and information in there and in terms of routine health care to try and ensure that your his health is as good as you can make it and that would include measures such as regular worming to ensure that they are not debilitated or depressed by a high worm burden and also vaccination for the commonly occurring diseases that we can vaccinate against for instance equine flu and particularly for tetanus so biosecurity is very much a buzzword and something which is very important the agricultural community in terms of disease prevention but it definitely has relevance and an application to horse owners and horses within yard and for instance a way that horse owners can participate responsibly in that would be to consider a period of isolation when buying a new horse or if a new horse of unknown health status is coming onto a yard and it's not a difficult thing to do to isolate their horse from the others on the yard for a period until its disease status is known whilst at Worlds horse welfare we follow best practice with regards to controlling disease there are simple steps that every horse owner can take to prevent disease and control its spread so here at Hall Farm we have a number of horses coming onto the farm each week so it's absolutely vital that we're in a position to be able to isolate any new arrivals to the farm just really so that we can help to control disease or any contagious diseases that the new animals might be carrying very often the horses that come onto the farm have very little case history with them so we have to be very cautious about how we deal with the horses when they first arrive and also make sure that they are segregated from the existing stock on the farm so this is the isolation unit here at haul farm and this allows all new arrivals when they first come in to us to be kept completely separate from the main stocking level so the isolation unit itself is completely self-sufficient it's equipped with all its own equipment throughout and as you can see this is one of our newest arrivals to to the isolation unit she's in box 25 and she's equally been allocated her own feed buckets and water buckets and hay nets etc and they'll remain with her chirp throughout her stay in the isolation unit they won't be used for any other horse and we do that for each individual horse that comes into the unit and that allows us to control any cross-contamination between horses themselves equally you'll see that the horse is given its own record card when it first arrives and that will monitor everything about the horse throughout a 24-hour period so we'll be monitoring things like general observation how alert and bright the horse is will controller monitor its droppings will also monitor how much it eats and drinks throughout and we'll also do general health checks such as pulse respiration and temperature and we'll also tackle things such as deworming and delousing when they first arrive into the isolation unit okay now obviously we're very fortunate here to have a separate isolation unit from the main yard but that's not always going to be possible in your livery yard or riding school environment but it is still possible to isolate any new arrivals to your yard and some of the simple ways to do that we can demonstrate in here so let's take for example that this this horse is a new arrival to your yard that's fine to have a stable in the main barn with other horses but where possible have at least two or three stables empty between the new arrival and the next horse that will just give you a little bit of space and room to work around in an isolated environment and not have to work too closely to any of existing horses that you have at the farm equally if that's not possible and you do actually have two stable the new arrival next to another horse what you need to do is make sure that you segregate that stable you need to mark that stable off that can either be simply by putting tape on the floor just to mark out an area that's in isolation or you could do something like put lunge lines across to segregate the area or if you're fortunate enough to have barriers you could put those outside the stable door as well but in both of those scenarios the most important thing when you're working with that horse in isolation again is to have separate equipment and tools when dealing with the new arrival so as long as you've got separate feed buckets and water buckets and set put tools for mucking out then that will go a long way to making sure that that horse is isolated and to help prevent cross-contamination of diseases between the numeral and any existing horses you have in your yard one of the other points to consider is if you are responsible for looking after any existing horses as well as the new arrival it's absolutely essential that you treat and look after the new arrival last so if you've got a horse round of two or three to do do the existing stock first and make sure that the new arrival is the last one that you care for that day equally it's vitally important that you put signs up outside the new arrival stable or paddock if that's what you choose to use so you make sure that every member of the public who is using the yard at the time knows that that horse is in isolation and shouldn't be touched and they shouldn't go in with them okay so we've already spoken today a lot about new arrivals to the farm and following an adequate isolation procedure but just bear in mind there may be occasions where you may have to isolate an existing horse at your yard that made it be because it starts to show clinical signs of disease or illness very easy to do follow exactly the same procedure that we've mentioned for any new arrivals and that way again means that you lysa late the horse straight away and you will eliminate the risk of that illness being spread to other horses now my recommendation would be where possible if you're in your own private yard or livery yard to try and follow and adopt some of the procedures that we follow here in the isolation unit hall farm so if possible do buy your horse its own individual water bucket and food bucket and grooming tips etc but if that's not possible and you do find yourself to be in a position where you do have to share the equipment it's absolutely vital that the equipment issue is washed and cleaned thoroughly between horse to horse don't be tempted to use a feed bucket straight after a previous horse has used it equally that can apply to simple items such as grooming kits one of the most commonly spread diseases that we come across is ringworm that simply can be transferred from one horse to another purely through a dirty body brush or dandy brush this can easily be avoided by making sure the equipment is cleaned regularly or as I've already said that you actually buy your own individual equipment for your horse now I've already mentioned how easy it could be for a horse to transmit a disease such as ringworm from one horse to another but equally it's important that as individuals you bear in mind that that's quite possible to happen for you as a handler or a groom or a horse owner as well so your own personal hygiene is equally as important so possible wash your hands regularly if you're doing a dirty or a messy job with your horse it may be an idea to wear overalls or disposable gloves but equally be very very vigilant about making sure everything is cleaned on a regular basis there is a real threat from disease but there is so much we can do to protect our horses together we have a collective responsibility to look after the health and welfare of our horses and all the horses that come under contact with them if you are any doubt at all you must call your vet they are the professionals and they will be able to give you individual advice for your particular situation but there is plenty of advice available through world horse welfare please call our advice line or visit our website please be vigilant take action when required prevention is better than cure spread the word not the disease you


  1. And be sure to have your horses vaccinated!

  2. I agree this is very helpful! A horse in the stable next to one of mine was ill with a infectious skin disease recently and I was shocked at how well the yard and indeed the equine community at the yard coped with the problem. The horse soon got better and all the other horses were fine. Is great that this information is out there!

  3. This has helped me a lot,thank you World Horse Welfare,your are an angel in an unusual form ^_^

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