Lameness remains key problem for UK horses, horse heath survey reveals
The National Equine Health Survey, held annually, has confirmed for the second year that lameness is the most common syndrome affecting the UK’s horses and ponies. This year’s results have also revealed an apparent increase in laminitis compared with previous years.
Run annually by Blue Cross, in partnership with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), NEHS is sponsored by SPILLERS and Zoetis and supported by the UK’s leading equestrian organisations and charities.
This year’s results revealed that almost one in five (18.5%) horses were suffering with lameness due to joint disease or other non-foot related problems. The results are consistent with last year’s non-foot related lameness figure of 18.6%.
NEHS 2014 has also highlighted that laminitis had a much higher prevalence than in previous years (7.1%) with 43% of these recorded as first episodes. Past NEHS results showed a lower number of horses affected by laminitis (4.4% overall prevalence of laminitis, with 25% first episodes, 2013) but further work is needed to confirm if this increase is representative of the total horse population in the UK.
Gemma Taylor, Education Officer at Blue Cross explains: “The increase in laminitis may be linked to the mild winter, extensive rainfall and consistently warm spring. These conditions were ideal for flushes of grass growth, known to be a trigger for the disease.”
The top five findings from the 2014 survey are: