A study by the University of Bristol has identified characteristics associated with an increased risk of falls in eventing.
Researchers found that horses competing at higher levels, horses competing over longer courses, more starters at the cross-country phase and less experienced athletes are all factors that might contribute to a fall.
Writing in the Equine Veterinary Journal, the team recommends ways to reduce the chances of a fall, such as adjusting minimum eligibility requirements (MERs) to ensure horses and riders always compete at an appropriate level.
Bristol Veterinary School’s Dr Euan Bennet, explains: “Eventing is an exciting equestrian sport, but horses and riders sometimes get injured during competitions.
“We have gained a detailed understanding of the risk factors that make horses more likely to fall so that we can provide actionable advice to governing bodies on how to reduce the number of horse falls, and therefore injuries and fatalities among horses and riders.”
The study is the first of its kind in more than 20 years. Other factors highlighted by the paper as contributing factors to a fall include:
- horses that had previously made fewer starts at the level of their current event
- male human athletes are at increased odds of experiencing a fall compared with female athletes
- Younger athletes are at increased odds compared with older athletes.
The Saddle Research Trust has confirmed that gait analysis will be discussed at its 4th International Conference.
Led by Dr Filipe Serra Bragança, from the University of Utrecht Faculty of Veterinary Science, the second session of the day will discuss the current position of objective gait analysis, and its future role in assessing performance horses.
Several different aspects of gait analysis will be discussed, including kinetic, kinematic and surface electromyography, as well as applications and consequences of gait analysis for equine athletes, focusing on welfare and quantifying performance.
Using sensor technology for gait analysis to regularly monitor horses will also be explored, alongside the pros and cons of different types of gait analysis systems, and future development goals in the field.
Dr Bragança commented: “The introduction of modern technology into equine sports medicine has started a revolution.
“We have now the tools and knowledge to better quantify many aspects of our field that will ultimately lead to better performance and welfare of the equine athlete.”
The conference, which is exploring the 'Welfare and Performance of the Ridden Horse: The Future' will be held virtually on Saturday 11 December 2021, and tickets are available here.
An 'Ethical Framework for the Use of Horses in Sport' was unveiled at an industry workshop, where over 90 leaders from equine sport, the veterinary profession, academia and the media contributed their ideas on the topic of ethical issues.
Developed by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), in collaboration with World Horse Welfare, the framework has been designed to deliver an agreed and transparent method of approaching ethical issues across equestrian disciplines.
Attended by representatives from across horse sport disciplines, the workshop explore ethical issues across each discipline, and considered how the framework could be most usefully applied to address them.
Ethical challenges identified in the workshop included fatalities and catastrophic injuries, care and management of equine athletes throughout their life, rider/driver weight and competence, and the use of equipment such as whips, spurs, bitted bridles and nosebands.
Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, said: “We hope this framework will be a pivotal step forward to help equestrian sport make decisions affecting horse welfare that are underpinned by an ethical basis.
“The next challenge is adapting this framework to become an accessible and easily applied go-to tool consistently across equine sport.
“Having a consistent, logical approach to making ethical decisions will help to make better decisions, and make it easier to communicate them to the sport and the public.”
A new horse-riding simulator will be revealed at the Saddle Research Trust's 4th International Conference. The state-of-the-art simulator will improve horse welfare, with beginners able to learn basic gaits before starting to ride.
The simulator, creating using the latest approaches in engineering sciences, has a freely programmable motion capability, and has been designed to provide the necessary motion capabilities for the simulator in all gaits, with jumping included. The technology makes it possible to replicate the motion of real individual horses.
At the conference, Professor Heikki Handroos PhD will give a comprehensive session on the most important outcomes of the Horzim Project, to demonstrate how the engineering science has been utilised to develop the new horse-riding simulator.
Professor Handroos, from the Department of Mechnical Engineering at the Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology, said: “This realistic horseback riding simulator can benefit riders with different skills in many ways.
“Beginners can learn how to sit on the saddle during the basic gaits before starting to ride a real horse, which reduces injury risk and improves the horse welfare.
“The simulator can also carry heavier riders to help them to access the hobby with reduced welfare risks. For more advanced riders the technology will enable them to practice and enhance their skills as often as they wish.”
Not only does the simulator have the potential to improve the welfare of ridden horses, but it also has potential as a hippotherapy tool.
Professor Handroos explains: “It has the potential to enable the ideal gait pattern to be programmed for each patient.
“We should also be able to use sensors to monitor the rider, while the simulator is performing different gait patterns.
“The same sensor technology could also be used in riding schools to monitor the learning curves of riding students.
“Our next project is going to be on sensing the rider’s bio-signals when riding the simulator and intelligent processing of sensor data to assess the progress of riding school students or hippotherapy patients.”
Taking place on Saturday 11 December, the Saddle Research Trust Conference will focus on the 'Welfare and Performance of the Ridden Horse: The Future'. Tickers are available here.
The RVC has published its new study analysing the laboratory diagnoses strangles in the veterinary journal, The Veterinary Record.
Strangles is a contagious upper respiratory tract infections caused by Streptococcus equi, and affects horses, ponies and donkeys. The RVC's study aims to improve understanding of the spread and control of strangles, in order reduce its impact.
Funded by The Horse Trust, the study saw researchers analyse data from seven UK diagnostic laboratories between January 2015 and December 2019.
Over the period studied, there were 1,617 laboratory diagnoses of strangles, with a higher number estimated when the number of potentially undiagnosed horses is taken into account.
Findings of the study could help guide veterinary surgeons in the UK in their approach to disease diagnosis, including not ruling out a diagnosis of strangles when a horse or pony presents with more general signs of nasal discharge. The study also discovered that the description of 'classical' and 'atypical' clinical signs should be revised.
Abigail McGlennon, PhD student at the RVC, said: “Prior to the development of the Surveillance of Equine Strangles network in 2018, there was limited information available about strangles diagnoses in the UK.
“This publication highlights the prevalence of strangles in the UK and the variation in signs that infected horses show.
“The results of this five year surveillance study enable the continued development of evidence-based recommendations within the equine industry to help reduce the spread of strangles and keep our horses healthy and happy.”
Director of research and policy at The Horse Trust, Jan Rogers, added: “The Horse Trust is delighted to have enabled this research, carried out by the combined expertise of the scientists involved, which has enabled the foundation of a surveillance network and highlighted key factors which can quickly be acted on by owners in order to be able to identify strangles and reduce the spread of this horrible disease.
“The work of these scientists fundamentally underpins the need for equine identification to become digitally based to enable accurate disease surveillance in the interests of horse wellbeing.”
Alongside the insights into the diagnosis and clinical features of strangles in UK horses, the study has also provided a resource for horse owners – an online tool which identifies in strangles outbreaks have occurred in a certain area or region, encouraging owners to stay informed and increase their biosecurity and hygiene protocols, helping to reduce the spread of strangles.
Horse owners are reminded to be careful this autumn and take steps to prevent ingestion of toxins.
The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has provided advice to horse owners, reminding to be vigilant and take action to minimise the risks of atypical myopathy this autumn.
Atypical myopathy is caused by the toxin hypoglyxin A, found most commonly in sycamore seeds in the UK, it causes muscle breakdown, and can be fatal.
BEVA has provided a series of steps for horse owners to take in order to protects their horse from the disease, these are:
Identify trees both around grazed fields as well as those in close proximity. Trees are often easiest to identify in the summer when in full leaf, rather than in the autumn, when leaves have largely fallen. The characteristic maple leaf shape is easy to spot, although if in doubt a test is available from the Royal Veterinary College as a result of work funded by The Horse Trust.
Collect seeds or exclude horses from affected areas
Use electric fencing or stabling.
Feed supplementary hay
Feed supplementary hay to try and prevent horses from excessive foraging for short blades of grass and inadvertent ingestion of seeds. But ensure that hay does not become contaminated by seeds.
Don’t rashly fell trees when laden with seeds
This can cause a sudden and massive contamination of the pasture. Consider local regulations, tree protection orders and tree ownership if felling is the only option.
Monitor horses carefully
Monitor horses closely even after they have been moved from affected pasture as disease can occur up to four days after exposure
Horse owners are also being reminded of the signs of atypical myopathy, including the passing of dark brown urine as a result of muscle breakdown, weakness and reluctance to move, but usually have a normal or increased appetite, and in severe cases, colic-like symptoms will be displayed owing to significant pain.
Huw Griffiths, BEVA President, said: “It’s imperative to contact your vet as a matter of urgency if you are concerned your horse may be suffering from Atypical Myopathy.
“We can use a special blood test, thanks to research funding from The Horse Trust, to diagnose and measure exposure to the toxin. The earlier we are able to intervene the more likely a favourable outcome for the horse.”
Horse owners are being encouraged to celebrate with their vet.
The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has shared its plans for the celebration of its 60th anniversary.
In the build up to the anniversary on 18 November, BEVA will be highlighting 60 individuals who have had an impact on the equine veterinary sector.
BEVA is also encouraging horse owners to join in with the festivities, and celebrate by sharing birthday cakes with their veterinary professionals and practice.
The 60 people highlighted have been nominated by BEVA members, and the project showcases people from 16th Century humanist Thomas Blundeville to 21st Century media entrepreneur Ebony Escalona.
Huw Griffiths, BEVA president, commented on the celebrations: “Our 60 faces initiative celebrates some of the many outstanding people who have left an indelible mark on the profession and whose actions complement BEVA’s work in championing progress and/or diversity.
“It was a really tough challenge to whittle the list down to 60 people as all of the nominees were exceptional individuals.
“The list showcases some of the best-known names in the industry as well as some heroes whose stories are less well known or who have been consigned to history.
“It’s not a “Top 60”, nor are all the faces vets, but it does highlight the breadth of people who have impacted what we do.”
Each day for a month, BEVA will release two faces on its social media channels, as part of the build up to 18 November. The faces will also be published on the BEVA website.
Huw added: “We hope you will enjoy reading about them and we hope our lovely clients will join in the celebrations during the week starting 18 November by sharing a celebratory piece of birthday cake with their cherished horse vet!”
In collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim and equestrian influencers.
The FEI, with Boehringer Ingelheim, has launched a campaign entitled #HealthforHorses, aimed at improving the daily care and wellbeing of horses.
Running for six weeks, the campaign will use the hashtag to share practical tips on topics including stable management and cleaning, post-exercise cooling, and first aid kits for horses.
These tips will be promoted on FEI's social media platforms, where over three million followers will have the opportunity to view them.
Online influencers in the equestrian world, Lucy Robinson (@footluceeventing), Ashley Harrison (@ashleyharrisoneventing) and Lauren Allport (@laurenallport) will work with experts to create online content for the campaign, reaching even more people.
FEI commercial director Ralph Straus commented on the initiative: “We are pleased to be partnering with Boehringer Ingelheim to deliver the #HealthforHorses campaign, to highlight not just the benefits of horse care for equines but also the therapeutic value that many people gain from daily contact with horses.
“If the pandemic situation has shown the world anything, it is that we need to value our relationships and this also holds true for our relationships with the horse.
“This campaign is about turning the knowledge and expertise that exists within our respective organisations into helpful resources, tips and pointers on horse care for professional, amateur and leisure riders around the world.
“The content, produced by our equestrian influencers, will speak directly to the younger generation of riders and up-and-coming athletes who will play an important role in keeping our community alive and growing.”
Horse owners past and present are being urged to take part in a survey gathering experiences of taking on a horse or pony for the first time.
Becoming a first-time horse or pony owner is a landmark occasion, and Redwings Horse Sanctuary are keen to learn why, when and how individuals make the switch from riding lessons or helping out with friends’ horses to shouldering the responsibility of their own.
Launched on World Mental health Day (10 October), the survey also considers the considerable impact horses can have on a person's physical and mental health.
Explaining the project, Andie McPherson, Redwings’ campaigns manager, said: “We have a lot to learn about the thought processes and preparations involved when someone takes on their first horse.
“We know that horses can have a hugely positive impact in people’s lives, but there’s a concern that not getting the right horse for you, or not having support as a new owner, could increase risks to the wellbeing of both horse and human.
“We’re keen to find out more so we can help support people at this exciting, but sometimes daunting, stage of their equestrian journey.”
The questionnaire, entitled ‘My First Horse’, will remain open until 18 November. Participants who complete the survey can also choose to enter a grand prize draw to win a bundle of equine goodies.
Clinics provide education and advice to support vulnerable horse owners.
HRH The Princess Royal has visited a British Horse Society (BHS) Healthcare and Education clinic in Kent to see first-hand how the equine charity supports horse owners.
The visit formed part of the clinic's equine welfare education campaign, which provides advice and support to horse owners whose animals are vulnerable or at-risk of breeding indiscriminately.
Central to the campaign is the aim of trying to prevent horses from needing to be rescued. With equine rescue centres at capacity, the BHS Healthcare Clinics play an important part in breaking the cycle of neglect and improving horse welfare.
Gemma Stanford, BHS director of welfare, said: “We are thrilled that our Vice-Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, could join us at this Healthcare Clinic to see first-hand how we are able to support horse owners.
“With a growing number of horses in rescue centres and being abandoned, this is a proactive approach to the problem. All horses received a health check on the day, with many of them having never been seen by a vet before. The BHS believe prevention is better than cure and we promote horse welfare by educating, advising, and supporting horse owners and carers, to prevent welfare issues.
“Horses are suffering because we do not have enough knowledgeable and experienced owners to look after them,” she said.
Hosted by Ashford Cattle Market, BHA's Kent clinic runs in collaboration with British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), with support from Zoetis and several other equine charities.
The clinics provide education, advice, and support on various issues and allow BHS experts to engage with and build relationships with people in local communities, many of whom would not have previously communicated with authorities or equine charities.
With thanks to BEVA Trust volunteer vets and an extensive list of supportive organisations, the clinics offer horse owners: general health checks, castration, hoof care, worming and dentistry, at a reduced cost.
Julian Samuelson, chair of BEVA Trust said: “Our BEVA Trust volunteers show a real passion for horse welfare with their support for these clinics and their willingness to donate their time is very admirable. By providing health checks, castrations, passports and micro-chipping, and also dental health checks and farriery when possible, we are able to make a real, practical difference for horses identified to be in need.
“We are immensely proud that HRH The Princess Royal has shown such an interest in our work and her level of engagement and understanding is truly impressive. We thank her for taking the time to visit our clinic today.”
Image © BHS/Jon Stroud Photography.
The CPD course is the first of its kind for UK equine vets.
The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) has introduced a new CPD post-mortem course. Named 'Finding answers after life', the course will be held at the University of Surrey on Wednesday 20 October 2021.
Worth seven CPD hours, the course is hands-on, and will combine lectures, practical sessions, and a Q&A session. Organised by Dr Nicola M Parry, the event will see delegates learn from speakers Dr Fabio Del Piero from the Louisiana State University, and Dr Marvin J Firth from the University of Surrey.
The course aims to equip delegates with the knowledge and confidence to carry out an equine post-mortem, identify common and uncommon pathologies, and draw conclusions as to the cause of death.
In the morning, delegates will attend lectures providing an overview of techniques that focus on how to approach the post-mortem examination of the adult horse and foetus/foal, alongside how to examine the placenta. Pitfalls to avoid during the examination, how to optimise sample submission, and potential findings will also be discussed.
Delegates will then spend the afternoon in the post-mortem room, and will have the chance to examine macroscopic specimens and learn practical approaches to a post-mortem examination in the field, alongside the collection of key specimens.
Closing with a Q&A session, the day promises to be a unique experience, as the first course of its kind in the UK's equine veterinary sector.
Learning manager at BEVA, Sarah Gaspar, commented: “If you have ever been called out to a dead horse to find a distraught owner and not been sure how to identify the cause, this course is for you.
“We can’t remember any course ever having been run on this topic in the UK before; it is likely to be very popular so be quick to book.”
The course costs £445 for BEVA members and £890 for non members.
More information about the event and booking details can be found here.
Researchers and veterinary surgeons from around the world will discuss the future of the ridden horse at the Saddle Research Trust (SRT) Conference.
Taking place virtually on 11 December 2021, the research trust's fourth international conference will centre around the theme 'Welfare and Performance of the Ridden Horse: The Future.'
The conference will explore the increasing importance of science in providing an evidence base for best practice in ridden horse management. Scientists, veterinary surgeons and equine specialists will discuss the advances in welfare and performance of the ridden horse using the latest knowledge and research.
Split into four sessions, the conference will consider four topics; 'Applying the science', 'Through the lens', 'The horse as a stakeholder', and 'Hot topics'.
Dr Anne Bondi, SRT director, commented on the upcoming event: “At this our 4th International Conference we are proud to demonstrate our continued commitment to research, education and dissemination of knowledge.
“With our virtual format we intend to build on the huge online viewing figures of our 2018 conference which reached 52 countries worldwide. Our mission is to make our conference content easily accessible and understandable for as many people as possible.”
The event is also eligible for CPD points for delegates whose professional bodies are registered with the SRT.
SRT chief executive officer Dr Jan Birch, added: “Over recent months the SRT has undertaken extensive developments to enhance our ability to deliver our key missions. This includes the appointment of some additional, highly experienced Trustees.
“With their support our 4th International Conference is already shaping up to surpass all expectations to deliver ground-breaking science, knowledge transfer and networking to support the future health and welfare of the horse.”
Early bird tickets for the event are available until the end of October at the 25 per cent discounted price of £60 per person, plus booking fee.
Tickets are available here.
Image © Chris Lax Event Photography
Tool will provide consistent ethical basis for the participation of equines in sport.
Representatives from the world of equestrian sport are today (4 October) convening an online workshop to test a new ethical framework developed by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and World Horse Welfare.
The workshop will help inform the second phase of the project, which aims to provide sporting disciplines with a consistent ethical basis for the participation of equines in sport and support the highest welfare standards.
The first phase of the project, which covered the theory and function of the ethical framework, was led by Dr Madeleine Campbell, senior lecturer in Human-Animal Interactions & Ethics at the RVC.
Today’s meeting will see Dr Campbell present the initial findings of the ethical framework and how it functions as a tool.
Bluebell Brown, the World Horse Welfare-funded MRes student on the project, will then explain how the framework was tested and refined through stakeholder participation. Finally, two stakeholders involved in this process will outline their experiences of it and how they envisage the framework being used in future.
“We are looking forward to testing this tool with further decision-makers across all levels of horse sport and we hope the workshop engages everyone in discussion around what exactly needs to be considered when making policies that can impact upon horse welfare,” commented Dr Campbell.
“The framework in itself does not tell any stakeholder what conclusion they ought to be reaching on any particular issue – it simply provides them with a logical method of reaching some conclusion based on a set of guiding principles. This means that the framework tool can be used in any setting within equestrian sport to facilitate the transparent, consistent justification of decision and policymaking.”
Dr Campbell will also lead phase two of the research, which focuses on optimising the function and uptake of the ethical framework tool. Beginning this month, phase two will continue over the next three years and aims to advance the framework's uptake across the equestrian sports sector.
“We are delighted to support this project into its 2nd phase, which aligns so closely with a key aspect of our 2020-2024 strategy: ‘Supporting the ethical involvement of equines in sport and entertainment,” said Roly Owers, chief executive officer at World Horse Welfare.
“As recent events such as the infamous Gordon Eliot photo and the treatment of horses during Modern Pentathlon at the Tokyo Olympics have shown, this work has never been more relevant and we are excited to be a part of this pioneering development.”
A new slimming club has been launched to help owners of overweight horses and ponies support their pet to get them to a healthy weight.
Run by Spillers, and supported by Redwings Horse Sanctuary, the initiative is hoped to help horse owners recognise the dangers to welfare of an overweight horse.
Clare Barfoot, registered nutritionist and development director at Mars Horsecare UK, commented on the issue of overweight horses: “Some horse and ponies simply appear to get fat on thin air.
”Reduced exercise and less rigorous management regimes due to COVID-19 restrictions haven’t helped and we are perhaps becoming guilty of normalising overweight horses.
“We all need to work together to tackle the problem, for the future health and welfare of our horses.”
The slimming club will provide horse owners with information and advice including tips to help their horse lose weight, explanations on to body condition score and use a weigh tape, diet plan advice and weight loss records.
Redwings is also working to support the initiative, sharing literature on helping horses to keep a healthy weight to those who take on a Redwings horse or pony, and will also be sharing tips and answering practical management questions on the Facebook page set up for the slimmers club.
Horse and pony owners can join the slimmers club here.
A unique auction to raise money for the educational work of Blue Cross and The Pony Club is taking place in October.
The auction will mark more than a decade of the two organisations working together to teach young owners about how to care for horses and ponies.
Among the many exclusive items up for grabs include a GB tie signed by British Olympic showjumper Ben Maher and a pair of horse shoes worn by Explosion W after his Individual Show Jumping win at the Tokyo Olympics.
Funds raised from the auction will be split equally between the two charities.
"This is a great fundraiser which showcases our special relationship with The Pony Club,” commented Kerry Taylor, education manager at Blue Cross. “It also highlights how education and supporting young people to have positive relationships with horses is so important to both charities.”
Pony Club CEO Marcus Capel added: “Partnering with Blue Cross reinforces our commitment to animal welfare and supports our members and their horses and ponies
“This auction will enable us to extend our charitable work to support young people who would like to expand their knowledge, build friendships and enjoy time with horses and ponies outdoors. We are looking forward to seeing the excitement surrounding some of these amazing prizes as well.”
A full list of the items available for auction will be revealed at the end of September. To join the action, visit givergy.uk/BlueCrossforPetsandThePonyClub at 9 am on Friday 1 October.
New guidance aimed at reducing the risk of equine disease transmission has been published by British Equestrian’s Equine Infectious Disease Action Group (EIDAG).
The document, entitled Advice notes for BEF member bodies and organisers of horse gatherings, provides practical advice so those in the equine industry who oversee and organise equine activities can put effective and practical measures, guidance and education in place.
It is the result of months of input from the EIDAG, and is based on ten pillars of equine infectious disease management that organisers should follow, including:
- raising standards and education
- risk communication and responsiveness
- vigilance and risk reduction
- biosecurity practice: participants
- biosecurity practice: stabling
- early disease recognition
- transparent information sharing
- support national infectious disease management.
The advice notes also contain general background information on a number of endemic and exotic diseases present in Great Britain to help educate horse owners on signs and management.
“Infectious Disease is with us all time, but the welfare of our equines and mitigating the risk of transmission is a team effort. Responsibility lies with all of us in the equine community to work together and play a part,” commented Celia Marr, chair of the EIDAG.
“The recent EHV outbreak in Europe clearly demonstrated what is possible with a collaborative approach between horse owners, member bodies, veterinary practitioners, industry advisers and organisers. We managed the situation promptly so there were no linked cases on home soil, but without us working together, the situation could have been much worse.
“We hope the guidance notes are the catalyst for instilling the principles of biosecurity and their importance for all who interact with equines, be they grassroots or professionals. Getting the key messages across, education and practical advice is crucial to reducing transmission risk and keeping disease in our equine population in check.”