The owner of a livery yard and her clients have spoken about their experience of the devastating equine disease strangles in the hope they can prevent other people from going through the same ordeal.

In a video released today by the organisations behind Strangles Awareness Week – which takes place between 1-7 May – Lisa, who runs High Moor Farm Livery Yard, and clients Alisha, Lorna, Beth and Kate are encouraging others to do the ‘Temp Check Challenge’.

The Temp Check Challenge is the key feature of the campaign – now in its fourth year – which aims to make regular temperature checking a habit to minimise the scale and impact of a strangles outbreak, which can be financially and emotionally costly.

A high temperature is commonly an early warning sign of ill health and, in the case of Strangles, typically comes two to three days before horses shed the disease and can infect other horses. Getting to know your horse’s ‘normal’ temperature and checking regularly – especially if they move and mix with others – could give owners and yards the chance to prevent disease spreading and be the difference between one infected horse and many.

The challenge encourages owners to take their horse’s resting temperature each day during the week and input it into a free online checker. Those who input the reading three or more times during the week will be entered into a prize draw where they could win behind the scenes yard tours with either five-star Eventer Piggy March or top Dressage Rider and Showjumper Richard and Joe Davison.

‘Not all of them made it through’

High Moor Farm Livery Yard was hit by the contagious disease last year. It was home to 64 equines at the time. Livery yard owner Lisa said: “It turned out it wasn’t just one pony. It was one pony in one field, a horse and a pony in another field, so then we’d got two fields that had been hit.

“Everybody immediately had to go out and buy a thermometer to take their horse’s temperature because 99% of the yard didn’t own one.

“Through the Strangles outbreak we ended up with 27 horses all becoming infected with Strangles. Unfortunately, not all of these made it through.”

Strangles is the most diagnosed equine disease worldwide. Symptoms of the contagious respiratory illness range, but include a high fever, laboured breathing, difficulty eating, depression, thick nasal discharge and painful abscesses. In severe cases strangles can pose a risk to the horse’s life. There are complications in approximately 30% of cases and it is impossible to know which horses will require extra care and treatment. The low cost, low impact habit of checking temperatures can really make a difference and is even more valuable in these economic times.

Alisha’s daughter’s pony Fifi was the first on the yard to come down with Strangles, and tragically died due to the disease. Alisha said: “Familiarise yourself with the disease and know what can happen. Learn how to temperature check properly, what signs and symptoms to look out for and how to prevent the spread of the disease because it’s such an awful thing to hit your yard. We’d like to try to prevent other people from having to go through the same journey we have.”

Free Strangles Awareness Week packs – including ten thermometers – are available for horse and yard owners to order now to help them get behind this year’s event. Artwork and post text for websites and social media, bunting, flyers and a poster are also in the pack to help encourage clients to get involved. Sign up for your pack and follow the Strangles Awareness Week Facebook page, by clicking here.

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