Launching today (Friday 9th November), owners and livery yard managers can make an online pledge, showing their commitment to help prevent the devastating and highly infectious disease, which can cause misery not just for horses but the wider equestrian community.
As “Pledgers”, horse owners will be agreeing to champion good biosecurity practices, to communicate openly if their horse may have been in contact with strangles and to clear their horse of being a strangles carrier if they become infected.
Meanwhile yard managers will be pledging to reduce the strangles risk at their businesses through screening new arrivals, producing a yard protocol for their clients and responding immediately if a strangles case is suspected.
The Pledge is part of a brand-new Stamp Out Strangles online hub created by the charity, full of free information and advice on spotting the signs of the disease and preventing or managing an outbreak. And with strangles being a topic of continuous scientific research, all Pledgers will receive regular campaign updates so they can keep informed of the latest guidance and stay one step ahead of the disease.
Horse owners can also access a map of livery yards who have signed up to the Pledge so they can see which businesses are committed to helping protect their horse from strangles.
Strangles is a prevalent disease with more than 600 outbreaks recorded on average in the UK each year, according to the Animal Health Trust.
Redwings’ Education and Campaigns Manager, Andie Vilela, said: “As well as being a miserable experience for the horse, an outbreak on a yard, riding school or other equestrian business can bring activities to a standstill for several weeks and be financially devastating.
“We understand it can be hard to make changes to hygiene practices, especially while fitting busy lives around caring for horses. However, we know the appetite to improve biosecurity standards is out there. Over 90% of more than 2,000 horse owners we surveyed in 2016* said strangles should be more of a priority, and 80% said they would choose a livery yard that screens new arrivals for the disease.
“With the launch of the Pledge and our brand new online hub, we hope this will give horse owners and yard managers the impetus and support to make meaningful changes – whether it’s the introduction of routine temperature checking or formulating a yard screening protocol with a vet – so together we can stay one step ahead of strangles and stamp out this disease for good.”
The Pledge has been endorsed by LiveryList, the UK’s largest livery yard directory. Cheryl Johns, Founder, added: “There is an increased demand from horse owners for yards and their staff to have an active part in ensuring the health and welfare of their clients’ horses. This has now evolved into many yards insisting on screening and isolation for new arrivals, which gives confidence to horse owners.
“LiveryList encourages both horse owners and yard managers to take the Pledge so they can receive the support they need to better their infectious disease prevention and help raise further awareness of this critical issue.”
Redwings’ campaign was inspired by its own experience of strangles. In 2015, the charity recorded its first outbreak in 25 years of using an infectious disease screening protocol. However, prompt and decisive action by the charity’s vets and equine care teams meant that just 30 horses (2% of all its rescued residents) were infected.
In November 2017, the campaign was honoured at the Animal Health Trust’s UK Equestrian Awards for the bold work it had already undertaken to remove the stigma associated with strangles and raise awareness of its prevention.
To make the pledge and access the new Stamp Out Strangles online hub, visit www.redwings.org.uk/strangles