Horse Health & Biosecurity

Horse Health and Hygiene (Biosecurity)

Here you will find information about keeping horses healthy and the steps you need to take to minimise the spread of infection and disease. This is crucial because disease can put all horses' lives at risk (yours as well as everyone else's) and can affect everything you do with your horse from ability to hack, compete, travel and generally enjoy time with your horses. We are all responsible for horse health, play your part!

Equine Flu Vaccination Advice

The BEF continues to urge all horse owners to ensure that their vaccination records are up to date. This is vital to help prevent the spread of Equine Flu. In light of recent out breaks, if it has been more than six months since the last vaccination, we strongly recommend that owners discuss a booster with their veterinary surgeon.

The BEF also strongly recommends that all competition and event organisers check the Equine ID Passports of all attending horses to ensure that they comply with vaccination rules.

Basic requirements are:

  • A primary course of two vaccinations between 21 and 92 days apart (three weeks to three months).
  • A third vaccination within 150 - 215 days of the second vaccination.
  • Thereafter boosters must be within a year.

As mentioned, if it has been more than six months since the last vaccination, we strongly recommend that owners discuss a booster with their veterinary surgeon.

If you're competing, we advise you to check the rules with the respective governing body or FEI as vaccination requirements differ across the organisations.

The BEF has Equine Flu advice and a Q&A sheet with advice for owners.

Reducing Risk 

There are three simple and inexpensive things every horseowner needs to do to reduce risk, do you do these things?

1. Take your horse's temperature regularly and know what is normal. Any raise in temperature means extra care needs to be taken and if the temperature goes above 38.5C ring your veterinary surgeon immediately.

2. Make sure that all horses that are introduced to your yard are kept away from other horses for a for a period of time (ideally in isolation facilities for 3 weeks). This may be varied in line with consultation with your local vet.

3. Make sure your horses are vaccinated every year against equine influenza '(flu'). Vaccinations are effective in managing 'flu' whatever you may hear. The more people that vaccinate their horses, the less likely it will be that we will all be affected by disease. This applies even if your horses don't go anywhere. Are you playing your part in keeping all our horses healthy? 

Simple Advice

FEI biosecurity guidelines here

Enrol on the FEI Campus biosecurity course here

BEF Biosecurity & Biocontainment guidelines (inc for events and transport) here and here

Hands On Against Disease here provided by World Horse Welfare

Vet Yard Wallchart Checklist here Provided by British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA)

The HBLB Codes of Practice set out voluntary recommendations to help prevent and control specific diseases in all breeds of horse and pony here

Diseases to Know About

There are many types of disease that can affect horses. We will put them into two categories:

Notifiable diseases - these diseases mean that positive cases need to be notified to the animal health office and goverment gets involved and takes over control of how proven cases are managed.

Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) here

Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) here

Non notifiable diseases - we list below the more common ones and provide a simple factsheet about each one because each of us can have a big impact on reducing the spread of these diseases.

Equine Influenza (EI or 'flu') here

Strangles here

Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) here

Managing Competitions in the Event of Disease

When disease happens, BEF will assess the risks and provide information and advice on whether competitions or events should be able to carry on. The organisers of these events will let you know.

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