Participation Sought in National Equine Health Survey

Participation Sought in National Equine Health Survey

Photo: iStock

British horse owners and keepers are urged to take part in the National Equine Health Survey from May 22-29.

The National Equine Health Survey (NEHS) is a short snapshot survey of general horse health in the United Kingdom that is already helping to make an important difference to the health and welfare of horses and ponies. It is run annually during the month of May by the charity Blue Cross, in partnership with the British Equine Veterinary Association, and with the support of many of the country’s equestrian charities and organizations.

Over the past six years NEHS has become one of the U.K.’s most significant endemic-disease-monitoring initiatives. Veterinary and equestrian publications and papers reference the study’s results, which are regarded as benchmarks for general horse health knowledge.

Last year owners and caretakers of nearly 17,000 horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules returned surveys. The six most notable disease syndromes identified in the 2016 National Equine Health Survey reported as causing equids health problems were:

  • Lameness (including laminitis)—32.9% (compared to 24.4% in 2015, 21% in 2014, 19.2% in 2013, and 12.9% in 2010-12);
  • Skin diseases (sweet itch, mud fever, rainscald, external parasites, skin tumors, and wounds)—25.5% (compared to 17.2% in 2015, 18.3% in 2014, 14.6% in 2013, and 15.2% in 2010-12);
  • Laminitis—6.8% (compared to 6.4% in 2015, 7.1% in 2014, 4.4% in 2013, and 3.6% in 2010-12);
  • Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID, or equine Cushing’s disease)—6.6% (this is similar to the high prevalence of PPID reported in 2015 [6.4%] and 2014 [5.6%] and possibly reflects increased surveillance through sponsored testing programs as opposed to true increases in prevalence from the pre-2014 surveys);
  • Recurrent airway obstruction (heaves or equine asthma)—5.6% (compared to 6.7% in 2015, 6.9% in 2014, 4.2% in 2013, and 3.6% in 2010-12); and
  • Back problems—5.5% (compared to 7% in 2015, 7.7% in 2014, 5% in 2013, and 3% in 2010-12).

“NEHS is helping us to steer equine awareness, education, and research with the sole purpose of safeguarding the future healthcare of our horses,” said Blue Cross Education Officer Gemma Taylor. “By giving five minutes of your time to complete the survey you can help to make a lifetime of difference.”

NEHS supporters include the British Horse Society, Horse Trust, Redwings, and the Pony Club. Zoetis UK Ltd and Dodson and Horrell are kindly supporting the initiative by helping Blue Cross cover associated costs.

The next survey is planned for May 22-29. Visit or e-mail to register. Participants will have the chance to win prizes including a pair of Ariat Burford Wellington boots and a pair of Lister Star Clippers.

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