Protecting horses from disease

Protecting horses from disease

There is an ever present and increasing threat of disease affecting our horses globally.

There is an ever present and increasing threat of disease affecting our horses globally.

Horses should be protected from disease and for owners/keepers, transporters, premises, events and nations to do their utmost to follow good biosecurity practices.

Contagious disease is one of the greatest threats to horse health – and we are working to help people, governments and sport regulators to help prevent its spread. 

It has never been so important to minimise the risk of serious and infectious diseases from entering or spreading across borders. An outbreak of disease could be catastrophic for the equestrian industry as well as threatening the welfare of horses in general. 

Government and Regulators

We have been leading a coalition of organisations to advise the UK government, prepare for an equine disease outbreak, and provide equine facilities with the guidance they need to help ensure disease-free premises. We are also pressing for greater traceability of horses in the UK to help manage an outbreak should it occur.  

As demonstrated by previous outbreaks of Equine Infectious Anaemia, one of the main routes of infectious disease into the UK is through the free movement of lower value horses and ponies into and out of Britain from the continent. We were therefore pleased that we successfully helped to persuade governments to restrict the Tripartite Agreement, which allowed movement without health certification between Ireland, Britain and France, so that from 2014 only Registered horses (for competition) and Thoroughbreds (for racing) are allowed such movement to and from France.   

We also advise sport regulators on their disease control protocols. 

Horse owners and keepers 

To help horse owners protect their horses against the ever-present and increasing threat from a number of infectious diseases, we produce a free disease prevention information pack. ‘Keep Your Horse Healthy’ aims to highlight the need for every horse owner to be aware of diseases such as EIA, strangles and flu, and offers simple steps to help protect against their entry and spread. The pack has been created to give horse owners and keepers practical advice as to how they can minimise the incursion and spread of disease. Simple, everyday actions such as good hygiene, avoiding mixing with unfamiliar horses, and maintaining good routine health care are essential in the fight against disease.  

You can do your part too. Find out more and request your copy of Keep Your Horse Healthy

You can also download and print this ‘Checklist for Equine Health‘, which we developed along with equine veterinary specialists, other welfare charities, and Defra. 

The ‘Checklist for Equine Health‘ sets out the practical essentials of good horse care including nutrition, safety, vaccination, parasite control, disease prevention, and transport. Download a copy for your yard today. 

Equine Disease Coalition 

The Equine Disease Coalition was formed in 2011 to advance awareness and prevention of equine disease in the UK. 

The Equine Disease Coalition comprises veterinary representatives from across the equine sector, is currently chaired by Roly Owers from World Horse Welfare, and works closely with Defra, the devolved administrations and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Key documents

Notes of 4 November 2020 meeting

Notes of 6 May 2020 meeting

Equine Disease Coalition Terms of Reference

Draft notes of 12 May 2021 meeting

Download leaflets

Keeping your horses healthy
Keeping your horses healthy

Follow our simple steps to help horses stay fit and healthy

A checklist for equine health
A checklist for equine health

This guide should be used to ensure responsible horse management.

Read more

Advice on horse disease prevention

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