Friday, 24 January 2020
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Horse industry applauds success of NEHS Survey

Horse industry applauds success of NEHS Survey which saw Blue Cross join up with other charities and sector leads for equine health

In its eighth and final year the annual National Equine Health Survey (NEHS) has confirmed its importance as an accurate tracker of endemic equine disease in the UK. The results of the 2018 survey remain consistent with previous survey results, providing a clear sense of what continues to affect the health of British horses year on year, helping equine specialists to benchmark and educate on current and predicted equine health priorities.

Pioneered by national pet charity, Blue Cross, in partnership with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) NEHS’s aim was to provide a landscape on horse health and welfare in the UK and the results over the years have certainly achieved this.

Gemma Taylor, Education Officer at Blue Cross said: “Thanks to the loyal support of the UK’s horse, pony, mule and donkey owners and keepers NEHS has achieved more than we ever imagined over the past eight years.

“Our charity’s history dates back to treating horses in WW1 and rescuing and rehabilitating hundreds to this very day. Blue Cross is extremely proud to have played an important part in developing NEHS into one of the most important endemic disease monitoring initiatives in the UK.”

Leading equestrian organisations and riders have commended the value of the initiative. David Mountford, Chief Executive of BEVA said: “NEHS is now well recognised as an important benchmark for horse health and the results are cited regularly.”

Gemma Stanford, Director of Welfare at the British Horse Society continued: “The BHS has been wholly supportive of this valuable survey since its inception. The information it has generated over the past eight years has been enlightening and gives all of us within the industry a valuable guide to the most significant endemic diseases affecting our horses today.”

Mary King, Olympic three day eventer added: “The health and happiness of our equine population is of great importance to me, and Blue Cross’s NEHS survey has helped us gain a true understanding of the state of our nation’s horses to help improve their welfare.”

BURFORD: ENGLAND. 30th May. Blue Cross Rehoming and Behaviour.

NEHS was created in 2010 by Blue Cross, BEVA and Professor Josh Slater Professor of Equine Clinical Studies at the Royal Veterinary College and has been supported by the major UK equestrian organisations.

As a snapshot survey at community level NEHS has looked at the prevalence of the same disease syndromes during the same week of May every year. It has relied on survey feedback from thousands of UK horse owners and keepers and is the first time anyone has obtained data about what really affects the UK’s horses from a community perspective.

The important information generated by NEHS has helped pinpoint trends in endemic equine diseases. The results are regularly referenced by vets and researchers as benchmarks for our general knowledge of horse health. The emerging patterns are now helping to steer equine awareness, education and research to help keep the nation’s horses healthier.

This year a total of 5529 people took part and returned records for 13,873 horses. These figures are very similar to returns for previous years.

The results enable an initial breakdown into general disease syndromes and then a further breakdown into individual diseases. In each case the 2018 results for both were similar to previous years:


General disease syndromes

  1. Skin problems (33% of all syndromes recorded)
  2. Lameness including laminitis (29% of all syndromes recorded)
  3. Metabolic diseases (7.4% of all syndromes recorded)
  4. Respiratory diseases (7% of all syndromes recorded)
  5. Eye problems (6% of all syndromes recorded)

Individual disease syndromes

  1. Proximal limb (non foot) lameness (18.5% of all syndromes recorded)
  2. Laminitis (5.4% of all syndromes recorded)
  3. Mud fever (6.7% of all syndromes recorded)
  4. Sweet itch (7.3% of all syndromes recorded)
  5. PPID (Equine Cushing’s Disease) (5.3% of all syndromes recorded)

Professor Josh Slater said:” NEHS is a gamechanger that has proved its worth and has changed the landscape for endemic equine disease surveillance. It has demonstrated that it’s possible to collect data at this level and the consistency has shown that the data is reliable. We now have a solid foundation that we never had before which tells us with confidence what the common problems affecting UK horses are.”

While NEHS has now finished, survey participants who have confirmed interest in pursuing further equine health initiatives will have the opportunity to take part in new and exciting projects in the future.

Supporters of NEHS include the British Horse Society, Horse Trust, Redwings, WHW and the Pony Club. Dodson and Horrell kindly supported the initiative by helping Blue Cross cover the costs of running the scheme.

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