Police horses lead the way for National Equine Health Survey

The Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch based in Hyde Park lined up to take part in the leading national survey on equine health.

From checking teeth, hooves and eyes, to clambering up stepladders to take the vital statistics of the majestic horses, pet charity Blue Cross joined forces with the celebrated Police Mounted Branch to encourage horse owners to take part in the charity’s National Equine Health Survey this week.

The National Equine Health Survey is an online snapshot survey that uncovers common health issues in horses, directly from horse owners themselves.

Results of the survey help build a picture of the health and disease in the UK and define priorities for future research, training and education. 

Over the past six years the survey, in partnership with the British Equine Veterinary Association, has developed to become one of the UK’s most important endemic disease monitoring initiative.

The results are referenced in leading veterinary and equestrian publications and papers and are regarded as valuable benchmarks for our general knowledge of horse health.

Blue Cross Education Officer Gemma Taylor said: “These majestic police horses have taken part in our survey and we hope that they will encourage others to follow suit and be ambassadors for horse welfare.

"The more data we can collect from the National Equine Health Survey the more robust our results will be, helping us to steer equine awareness, education and research to keep our nation’s horses healthier.”

Last year survey records were returned for almost 17,000 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules and the six most notable disease syndromes identified.

1. Lameness 32.9% including laminitis (compared to 24.4% in 2015, 21% in 2014, 19.2% in 2013 and 12.9% in 2010-12).

2. Skin diseases (sweet itch, mud fever, rainscald, external parasites, skin tumours and wounds) 25.5% compared to 17.2% in 2015 (18.3% in 2014, 14.6% in 2013 and 15.2% in 2010-12).

3. Laminitis 6.8% compared to 6.4% in 2015 (7.1% in 2014, 4.4% in 2013 and 3.6% in 2010-12).

4. PPID (‘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 programmes as opposed to true increases in prevalence from the pre-2014 surveys.

5. Recurrent Airway Obstruction 5.6% compared to 6.7% in 2015 (6.9% in 2014, 4.2% in 2013 and 3.6% in 2010-12).

6. Back problems 5.5% compared to 7% in 2015 (7.7% in 2014, 5% in 2013 and 3% in 2010-12).

This year's survey takes place between 22 – 29 May 2017

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