The National Equine Health Survey (NEHS) is run by Blue Cross, in partnership with the British Equine Veterinary Association. Introduced in 2010 and now an annual fixture, it is a quick and easy online snapshot survey that is helping to discover more about common health issues in horses, directly from horse owners themselves. Everyone who takes part will have the chance to win some amazing prizes including Olympia tickets or SPILLERS feed vouchers.
The NEHS data collected between 2010 and 2012 has revealed crucial information about common diseases such as. It has been interpreted by Professor Josh Slater, Professor of Equine Clinical Studies at The Royal Veterinary College and is shared across the sector to help establish benchmarks for equine health and disease in the UK and define priorities for future research, training and education
The top five survey findings so far are:
- 1. Skin disease: Skin problems such as melanoma, sweet itch, sarcoid, mud fever and cracked heels were recorded in 15.2% of horses and ponies - suggesting a need for raising awareness of skin disease management and prevention amongst the veterinary industry and owners.
- 2. Lameness: This was recorded in 13.8% of horses and ponies, but while foot lameness is generally perceived to be the most prevalent cause, it was recorded less frequently in this survey (4.5%) with lameness in the proximal limb recorded as the most prevalent cause of lameness.
- 3. Weight issues: 7.5% of returns recorded animals as overweight. This it is much lower than estimates from other resources and does rely on owner perception and is an area worthy of further investigation.
- 4. Colic: This was recorded 5.6% of returns with a ratio of medical to surgical colic of 7:1, broadly in line with previously published estimates from veterinary practices and referral centres.
- 5. Respiratory disease: 5% of returns recorded respiratory disease with allergic respiratory disease being the most frequently noted. This reinforces the importance of hypersensitive respiratory disease in the UK and also the generally low prevalence of clinically apparent infectious respiratory disease.
Gemma Taylor, Blue Cross education officer said: "Our aim is to reach a level of endemic disease surveillance not currently achieved in any European country, but we still have some way to go and urge you help us. We are appealing to every horse owner to spare just five minutes every year to complete the survey so we can continue to build valuable knowledge to help improve the future health of our nation's horses."
Supporters of NEHS include the British Horse Society, British Riding Clubs, the Pony Club, the Household Cavalry, and Olympic three day event rider Mary King. Zoetis UK Ltd is supporting the initiative by helping Blue Cross cover the costs of running the scheme.
Everyone who takes part will be entered into a competition to win some fabulous prizes including tickets for a family of four to Olympia, three lots of SPILLERS feed vouchers worth £100 each, a Northants jump, an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Equine Referral Hospital at the Royal Veterinary College, London and six pairs of Ariat Mudbuster boots.
The next census week is planned for 5 - 11 May 2013 and visitors to Badminton Horse Trials will be able to submit information on the Blue Cross stand. It takes only five minutes to complete the survey and details will remain anonymous.
To take part in the survey, please click here
For more information and to register direct, please visit: www.bluecross.org.uk/NEHS or email: NEHS@bluecross.org.uk
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