British Horse Health Survey Trends Reflect Current Research

Skin diseases and lameness were the most commonly reported ailments, affecting 31.1% and 23.4% of horses, respectively.
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Results from the 2017 British National Equine Health Survey (NEHS), conducted by equine charity Blue Cross in conjunction with the British Equine Veterinary Association, show that more than a third of horses surveyed this year had one or more health problems.

While the top disease trends of lameness and skin disease remain consistent with previous years, one of the most significant findings is that the results reflect current equine veterinary research; a quarter of horses with back problems were also showing signs of lameness, which ties in with recent studies conducted at the Animal Health Trust, in Newmarket, U.K.

Participation in this year’s NEHS was similar to previous years, with 5,235 people taking part and returning records for 15,433 horses. Most horses were kept in livery or a private yard and used for leisure and hacking and the majority ranged in age from 5 to 10 years. A broad variety of breeds were represented, including British Native ponies, Thoroughbreds, and Warmbloods. Respondents reported 59% of horses were healthy and 41% had one or more health problems, compared to 62% and 38%, respectively, in 2016.

Disease trends from the survey have remained broadly consistent year on year, showing important evidence is being generated to help owners and experts to understand and improve horses’ health

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