Some infections only occur once and don’t spread between horses, however there are many contagious equine diseases, with some being zoonotic (able to pass between humans and animals).
Depending upon disease severity, horses may need veterinary help. Even if your horse is only mildly unwell or even asymptomatic, disease outbreaks can impact upon training, competition and in severe circumstances, lead to yard closure and travel restrictions.
Prevention is better than cure – one of the most well-known sayings when it comes to biosecurity. There are routine management procedures yard and horse owners should implement in order to eliminate existing harmful bacteria and to prevent the spread, or introduction of infectious diseases.
The most common of these are ringworm, strangles, equine herpes virus and equine influenza. An understanding of how these spread can aid in the maintenance and development of a good biosecurity plan and limit the risk to your horses:
Ringworm is a fungal infection, spread by contact with other horses, grooming kits, stable walls, fence posts, people and tack. Commonly introduced by a horse new to the yard.
Strangles is a bacterial infection which can be passed by direct contact, equipment and shared environments. Whilst horses can be asymptomatic carriers, these can be identified and treated.
Equine Herpes Virus is a highly contagious airborne respiratory disease, with two primary strains, one of which (EHV-1) can cause neurological disease.
Good biosecurity practices, alongside vaccinations where available, are essential to prevent outbreaks within the equine population.
Owners must take the necessary precautions to avoid transfer of infectious diseases, including:
• Each horse should have their own equipment (grooming kit, water buckets, feed buckets etc).
• Clean water buckets and feed buckets daily. Disinfect equipment routinely, more often in the case of an outbreak.
• If you see any signs that a horse is un-well, isolate the individual immediately and seek veterinary advice.
• Try not to move an isolated horse, they should stay away from other horses until given the all clear by your vet.
• Always tend to isolated horses last, to minimise the risk of contaminating other horses. Use PPE if possible and consider foot dips and disinfectant sprays
• Have good washing facilities with running water, antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer.
Ensuring your horse’s home environment is pathogen-free can help maintain health and help prevent the spread of diseases.
Cleaning: Start from the floor and work your way up. Lifting rubber matting and sweeping underneath before moving on to the wall and doors to remove dust, cobwebs and old bedding. A pressure washer is useful to remove stubborn dirt.
Disinfecting: Disinfectants are equally as important, as they must be both safe and effective upon equine-specific bacteria.
Painting: Anti-bacterial paint is becoming more often used to help protect the home environment. Painting provides long-term protection for stables, feed rooms and tack rooms. Stable Shield Anti-Bacterial paint is non-toxic and contain agents that kill micro-organisms and prevent their spread.
A new horse or pony could also bring infection, however there are easy steps to put in place to reduce the risk:
• Check all vaccinations are up to date.
• Before the horse has left the previous yard, test for strangles.
• Ask for a faecal egg count.
Upon arrival, isolate for a minimum of two weeks. Utilise the same rules as those for an infected horse in order to unwittingly contaminate other horses.
At the beginning of the year in the UK there were outbreaks of Equine Influenza forcing some race meetings to be abandoned to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
Subsequently the National Trainers Federation (NTF) had the objective to improve the standards of hygiene at racecourse stables.
Research was carried out by the Irish Equine Centre instigated by President Ann Duffield to look at the cleanliness of racecourse stables.
Three Northern Racecourses participated in the research, which then led to discussions with the BHA Racecourse Committee. There needed to be a better or stronger method of cleaning stables.
Although the common practice before was to use a Defra approved disinfectant, it begged the question, how effective are these products against equine specific pathogens.
With this new knowledge, the BHA General Instructions (BHAGI) now state that equine specific chemical disinfectants should be used at racecourses when carrying out a Level One clean.
Stable Shield Disinfectant has been put forward as one of the approved products to use. It was tested by the Irish Equine Centre and the Animal Health Trust against equine bacteria, fungi, equine viruses and diseases such as Streptococcus Equi (strangles), Rhodococcus Equi, Trichophython (equine strain of ringworm), Aspergillus mould (causes RAO and bleeding), Equine Influenza and Equine Herpes virus type 1 and 4.
The disinfectant is alcohol-free but contains one of the fastest acting and most powerful germ-killing products available today. Effective within 30 seconds, it kills up to 99.999% of bacteria but contains no irritants within its formula.
To ensure Stable Shield works to its maximum effectiveness, we recommend that your stable is correctly ventilated and cleaned regularly, dirt removed from the stable walls, power-washed at least every six months, and disinfected monthly.
A wide range of research has gone into anti-bacterial paint.This has resulted in, finally proving that the additives within the product will provide lasting and effective protection. This will include protection against harmful, bacteria mould and fungi. This will simply help your paint or the coating you have applied to minimise any staining, bad odours or material degradation. Any microbes will struggle to survive as long as there is a layer of anti-bacterial paint applied throughout the stable.
Many people believe that anti-bacterial paint will be expensive. However, this isn’t the case. Anti-bacterial paints can be very cost effective. Due to its structure and adaptiveness it can be manufactured into many different forms but at a cost-effective rate. These forms of anti-bacterial paint will include liquid, water based, and powder. Coatings can come in different forms such as decorative, speciality inks, and industrial. By having many different forms of anti-bacterial paint allows the manufactures to produce the product at a lower rate. This will result the product to be sold at a more reasonable price. Visit our shop to discover out products.
Over the years we can finally say that ant-bacterial paint has a longer expected lifetime then your standard paint. If we look at an unopened acrylic paint pot it well known that it will last up to ten years. it is also not un common oil based paints that haven’t been used to last into their mid-teens. As we all know as soon as the lid is removed the chances of the risk of becoming lumpy is increased due to exposure to air.
If we look at anti-bacterial paint additives it has been proven to prolong the shelf-life of paint products. The products used to repel bacteria and mould will help to decrease the chance of degradation. This will just ensure the paint can be used for longer.
Overall the real reason for anti-bacterial paint is to prevent bacteria and harmful diseases to spread throughout the stable. If there are existing bacteria living on the surfaces of the walls. This can be a source of infection and can be seen as an obstacle in providing a healthy life for the horse. By applying anti-bacterial paint will not only take away existing bacteria but will definitely prevent further bacteria being able to live within the stable walls. By applying the paint will not only protect the horses but will further protect the hostler or ostler or whoever it to visit the horse in the future. Many anti-bacterial paints can be applied to multiple surfaces such as wood, stone, concrete, block, steel and most plastics. This is perfect as it will suit almost anyone who owns a stable and horses.
It’s widely acknowledged that horses can only sleep standing up. We have probably all seen a horse throughout the day taking that power nap or snoozing for hours, standing on all fours. However, we are here to tell you that horses can in fact also sleep lying down or sitting upright. What many people don’t understand is why horses may seem to be on their feet all day, and some seem to spend their days resting on the ground. We have seen that many groups of horses will tend to rest on the ground, in order to feel safe in a big group. If we look at horses who are kept within a stable, or inside, these animals will stay up to keep guard in the event of potential danger.
Read more about horses sleeping patterns and how horses sleep.
Many people believe that horses are colour blind and can only see in shades of black, white or grey. In fact, they can see blues and greens, but find it very difficult to see red and yellow. Even though horses have amazing night vision, they are only able to see two out of the three visible wavelengths in the colour spectrum.
Throughout the internet, we have all seen a funny video of a horse making silly faces or ‘smiling’. In reality, the horse isn’t actually smiling or making that face because they are happy, but it is in fact part of a special nose-enhancing technique, called the ‘flehmen’ response. This is a technique to direct scents towards the olfactory glands, located at the end of their nasal passages. So, next time you come across that funny video of a horse making that silly face, they just want to know what you smell like.
Some may think that riding a horse isn’t what you’d call ‘exercise’ in a traditional sense. However, they have clearly never saddled up. To ride a horse not only takes brilliant co-ordination and flexibility, but it also requires core strength and stamina. All these factors put together will make anyone just starting to ride a powerhouse of strength, health and focus.
It is believed that horses grow new teeth in the same way as a human. Again, this is another myth. A horse is born with a full set of teeth that will stay with them for the rest of their life. When looking at the structure in the mouth, we can see that most of the tooth is located above the gum line – the teeth will grow through as and when needed, as a horse will grind its teeth when chewing on hay. We would strongly advise that you get your horse’s teeth checked annually, just to maintain and check that there are no problems with growth that may cause pain. It is also said that you can tell a horses age by his teeth!
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