Two horses die every week on roads

Alarming new statistics have revealed nearly two horses a week are being killed on UK roads, with more than 845 incidents involving horses and drivers reported to The British Horse Society last year.

The British Horse Society (BHS) collates statistics each year to understand the rate of incidents involving horses and riders on UK roads. In the last year alone, 87 horses and 4 people have been tragically killed whilst riding on the roads and 73 per cent of incidents reported occurred due to vehicles passing by too closely.

Slow down for horses and pass wide

The charity is urging drivers to be more careful when passing horses on the road, with the new statistics showing an incident increase of 109 per cent compared to the previous year.

The increase in incidents follows a partnership with Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society and The Verderers of the New Forest, encouraging them to report all incidents involving feral ponies and horses to the BHS horse accidents website.

Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at the British Horse Society said: “The inclusion of horse incident statistics from Dartmoor and the New Forest allow us to have a much better understanding of the rate of incidents occurring on our roads. The dramatic increase in incidents is of huge concern, but we are aware that only 1 in 10 accidents are reported to us, therefore these figures are only the tip of the iceberg. We will continue to promote our key Dead Slow messages and strive to ensure all vulnerable road users are kept safe.”

Since November 2010:

  • 3,737 incidents have occurred on the road
  • 43 people have lost their lives and 1085 injured
  • 315 horses have been killed and 945 injured

The BHS launched its Dead Slow campaign to help better educate drivers how to pass horses on the road. The key behavioural change messages to drivers are:

If I see a horse on the road then I will …

1. Slow down to a maximum of 15mph

2. Be patient – do not sound their horn or rev the engine

3. Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width if possible

4. Drive slowly away

The BHS is also currently working on a six month trial with Huufe, a new app that allows people to report incidents easily and quickly. The app allows the user to select the type of incident they were involved in whilst also recording the location and time.

The app records no personal data during its trial period therefore the BHS is still encouraging riders to continue reporting incident to its horse accidents website.

Chief Executive of BHS to retire

Lynn Petersen, Chief Executive of The British Horse Society (BHS) has announced her retirement, following a long and successful career of more than 40 years in both commerce and charity.

The BHS is now the UK’s largest equestrian charity with more than 106,000 members under the leadership of Ms Petersen who has grown the Society’s membership by 43%.

Lynn Petersen

During the last six years, Ms Petersen has been the driving force behind modernising and growing the BHS, launching successful campaigns like Dead Slow, React Now to Beat Colic, 2026, Paths for Community, Changing Lives through Horses and Friends at the End. These campaigns have had a significant impact for horses, owners, riders and the equestrian industry.

In the same period the Society’s world-class education system was upgraded, leading to more than a 50% increase in candidates. Lynn has also pioneered an initiative to take the BHS education systems to other countries where no such systems exist. This year the new BHS Challenge Awards has been launched, offering recreational riders the chance to improve their knowledge and skills.

David Sheerin, Chairman of The British Horse Society said “It has been a remarkable journey for the BHS under Lynn’s leadership as CEO, and previously as Chairman of the Society and a Trustee. Her vision and achievements will leave an indelible mark on the BHS and the wider equine industry in the UK and internationally. We wish her the very best in her retirement.”

The Society promotes and protects the interest of all horses and horse lovers across the UK. Its core focus is education, welfare, safety and equestrian rights of way.

BHS demonstrations over three days

Join the British Horse Society for three days of training demonstrations from top international coaches and all the latest information from industry leading speakers to improve your equestrian knowledge and skills.

Whatever your discipline or goal, the National Convention 2019 will help you get the most from you and your horse. It takes place at Hartpury College, Gloucester from March 24-26.

Day One features demonstrations from top coaches and professional riders, and break- out sessions focusing on lorry safety, course building and equine nutrition. There is something for everyone, whether you are a professional coach or ride for pleasure.

Day two is specifically for professional coaches wishing to update their CPD and Day Three for coaches wanting to improve their knowledge of the Society’s Professional Pathway and newly introduced Challenge Awards.

Speakers including Richard Waygood MBE, Ros Canter and Caroline Moore FBHS and Gillian Higgins.

Major Richard Waygood  MBE

Think you would benefit from some top level coaching? Then why not apply to be a demo rider. You don’t need to be a serious competitor or professional rider to enjoy this opportunity, just show us you have the willingness to learn and benefit from a coaching session.

Guest speakers and panel debates in the evenings round off convention days perfectly and are definitely not to be missed.

Sunday evenings will be ‘An Evening with….’. These will include a talk from an equestrian personality and a delicious gala dinner. Sunday March 24 and Sunday September 22 will be evenings with Richard Waygood MBE of Team GB Eventing Performance Manager -covering his life and career with horses.

. For more information please email



HorseQuest UK sponsors BRC championships

A NEW championship for British Riding Clubs has been sponsored for the first time by HorseQuest UK.  The team from HorseQuest UK will be at the first of this season’s BRC Championships, which will be taking place at Aston le Walls in Northamptonshire on March 9 and 10.

Senior and junior riders, competing in teams and as individuals, have already pre- qualified in their areas across the UK. These area qualifiers have been a great success and with more than 470 riders coming to this year’s inaugural event.

HorseQuest Arena Eventing

They will be contesting a range of classes which will run across the two days as follows:

Saturday 9 March – 70cm (mixed), 80cm (juniors), 90cm (juniors)

Sunday 10 March – 80cm (seniors), 90cm (seniors), 100cm (mixed)

Arena Eventing is now proving to be extremely popular throughout the UK, especially during the winter months. The BRC Championship classes will consist of a course of show jumps immediately followed by cross-country fences, and will finish with the last fence as a show jump, called The Joker – with this key fence set at a discretionary 10cm higher than the rest of the course. There will be a maximum of 20 jumping efforts, 9 show jumping, 10 cross-country fences and the joker show jump fence.

“We are very excited to welcome everyone to Aston le Walls for the climax of this new Arena Eventing series. You will be able to browse the latest adverts on our tradestand, and find out more about our membership club, HorseQuest Advantage. Plus, there will be the chance to win a show jumping lesson with our Brand Aambassador Bex Mason, which will subsequently be featured in the BRC Rider magazine, said Sarah Ambrose, HorseQuest UK Ltd

Image courtesy of


BEF works with equine industry to tackle diseases

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has been working closely with veterinary experts and leaders in the equine industry to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases across UK horses – including the establishment of a COBRA-style Emergency Response Group.

The recent outbreak of equine influenza has demonstrated not only the important role that vaccinations can play, but also how vital it is to educate equine owners about how they can help prevent the spread of diseases.

Equine flu has had a significant impact in recent weeks, including the suspension of racing by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the introduction of extra precautionary measures by some event organisers.

The BEF recognises that an outbreak of other infectious – and potentially more harmful – diseases would have an even greater impact. This could include obligatory movement restrictions which would pose a significant risk to the calendars of sporting bodies as well as to the large recreational sector. Unlike equine flu, there is a risk that some of these diseases can be passed on to humans.

Jane Nixon,  BEF Board Director and consultant equine veterinary surgeon

To tackle this problem, the BEF has secured wide agreement to a plan to mitigate the impact should the worst threat be realised.

BEF Board Director and Consultant Equine Veterinary Surgeon Jane Nixon gathered together major stakeholders in the equine industry to contribute to the High Health Steering Group.

They included the Animal Health Trust, British Equine Veterinary Association, Thoroughbred Breeders Association, BHA, British Horse Society, British Dressage, British Eventing, British Showjumping, The Hunting Office, the Worshipful Company of Farriers together with representatives from Polo and the equine charities.

The agreed strategy will take two approaches:

  • Education of all equine owners on how best to prevent the spread of disease.
  • The establishment of a COBRA-style Emergency Response Group for rapid response in event of an outbreak.

The Emergency Response Group first met in response to the equine flu outbreak in February 2019. Representatives from the BEF, British Dressage, British Eventing, British Showjumping as well as experts in equine flu and epidemiology with experience in managing previous outbreaks met regularly to monitor the extent of the outbreak and ensure that equine owners had the best possible information to help tackle the spread of disease.

Nick Fellows, chief executive of the BEF, said: “The recent equine ‘flu outbreak demonstrated the importance of providing up-to-date accurate information to equine owners. The swift, coordinated actions of the Emergency Response Group helped mitigate the spread of the disease.

“The BEF has shown its commitment to tackling infectious diseases and we feel confident that we can build on these initial steps to safeguard biosecurity in UK horses in the face of the very real threat from infectious and, in some cases, fatal diseases.

“I would also like to thank Jane Nixon for bringing so many sections of the equine community together so we can be sure of a co-ordinated response to this threat.”

Jane Nixon added “Our message is simple: to promote good habits to prevent disease spread in the horse and subsequently incursion on human health and wellbeing. I believe that when we work together, and take collective responsibility, that can be a very powerful tool in enhancing disease prevention.”

Katie heads to world endurance championships

A member of the Endurance GB South East Group committee, Katie Bedwin  (21) of Rudgwick, West Sussex, will represent Great Britain at to the World Endurance Championships for Young Riders, in Italy, in September 2019.
Katie is ride secretary for the Endurance Great Britain South East Group committee, which had been keen to run a pleasure ride during the winter months for a number of years, but had always struggled to find a suitable venue.

Katie riding Marley- the horse she hopes to take to the World Endurance Championships          Photo by  Robert Gee  of LRG Photography

So they were delighted to be able to run a 16km pleasure ride this year across the Surrey Hills, from Wotton, near Dorking on January 6. The ride was declared full just three and a half hours after being advertised.
The ride followed bridleways and byways from Wotton, across to Holmbury St Mary and then finishing with a climb up Leith Hill,  for some spectacular views.
After such a good response Katie is running another pleasure ride from this venue on March 31 2019,  which the EGB South East Group has allowed to be a fundraiser for  Katie’s forthcoming trip to the World Endurance Championships for Young Riders in Italy in September 2019.
Katie is currently the only qualified combination, so she is fundraising to make her dream a reality.This time the route will cover 19km and take riders up Holmbury Hill too, for another memorable canter.
“She explained:” My horse for the Championships will be Penhwnllys Samala de Mons or Marley as she’s known at home. She is a 10 year old, Welsh X Arab who has now completed two CEI 2* 120km competitions with me to qualify her for 2019 World Endurance Championships for Young Riders.
“Marley is owned by Mandy Yarnold, who is a good friend and asked me to back and bring on Marley as a five-year-old.
“Mandy completed Marley’s novice endurance competitions and then I took the ride on for her first 64km ride in 2015. We did her first CEI 1* in 2016, and her two CEI 2* in 2018.
“Completing these two CEI 2*’s were my personal ninth and tenth completions of this distance, which makes me an FEI Elite Young Rider- the only one in the UK.”
If you are interested in endurance or pleasure rides in this area, details can be found on their website –

How to deal with strangles

In our latest veterinary feature from Sussex Equine Hospital, vet Sarah Davidson MRCVS writes about Strangles.

Sarah Davidson MRCVS, Veterinary Associate at Sussex Equine Hospital

Strangles is a disease caused by a bacterium Streptococcus equi subspecies equi and affects the upper respiratory tract of the horse and more specifically the lymph nodes in this area. In 1% of cases, the bacteria can settle out and create abscesses in other organs of the body.

This is termed ‘bastard Strangles’ and can be fatal. It is endemic in the UK horse population, spreads quickly and easily and requires yards to be closed until they are deemed ‘clear’. As with all things, prevention is better than cure and this “article aims to outline how to minimise risk, prevent its spread and if an outbreak does occur, how to manage it and reduce collateral damage.

Yards that frequently see horses moving in and moving out should be more wary of Strangles, as opposed to smaller yards, where the resident horses rarely leave the premises or hack locally around the area.

Protocols that can be employed to reduce the likelihood of Strangles entering a yard are: requesting a blood sample be taken before a horse comes onto the yard; isolating new horses for a minimum of two weeks (10-25m away from resident horses); daily temperature checks; and being conscious of horse interactions when away at shows or competitions.

Strangles is most commonly transmitted by direct contact between an infected horse and a naïve horse, but transmission by equipment, personnel, clothing and boots is not unheard of. The bacteria is discharged from the nose and from any draining lymph node abscesses that may have formed. It can survive up to three days on fences and clothing and even longer in water troughs (up to four weeks). The incubation period, (the time from when a horse is exposed to when the horse shows clinical signs), is three-14 days, sometimes longer, and recovery time is approximately six weeks.

Some 90 per cent of horses recover from Strangles completely, but the remaining 10 per cent can harbour the infection for months or even years in their guttural pouches – a structure unique to equidae.

These horses are called carriers. They are immune to reinfection, show no clinical signs and periodically shed the bacteria creating the potential to infect naïve horses around them. Identifying and treating these horses is vital in disease prevention and stopping the spread.

How to recognise a horse with Strangles:

  • Dullness and an increase in temperature will be the first sign
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Nasal discharge
  • Swollen lymph nodes that may form abscesses and burst out

While usually this is the extent of the disease, it can become more severe and in some cases be fatal. The swelling of the lymph nodes can obstruct the airway and this where the disease gets its name.  Airway obstruction is serious as the horse may require an emergency tracheostomy (a procedure to open the airway in the neck region) to prevent it from asphyxiating.

Another complication is a purpura haemorrhagica syndrome caused by bleeding from the capillaries resulting in small red spots on the skin and mucous membranes and also causing marked swelling of the legs and occasionally the head.

If you have a horse with any of the above symptoms, call your vet immediately for a check. Your vet will carry out a thorough clinical examination and take any appropriate samples to facilitate diagnosis.

This may be a blood sample, a swab from the pharynx, direct visualisation of the guttural pouches and a sample, or a combination of the above. Swabs and samples demonstrate the presence of the bacteria itself and the blood sample shows the immune reaction to the bacteria.

It can take up to two weeks to show a positive response and may remain positive for up to six months following recovery.

If you have a positive diagnosis, your vet will direct you specifically about how to manage the yard, but it is all based on a few basic points:

  1. The affected horse(s) will be isolated from all other horses. The ideal scenario is a stable or field at least 10metres away with all its own equipment and water source
  2. Staff members should not move between the isolation area and the ‘clean’ zone and the yard should be completely closed down to horses leaving or entering. This includes hacking out
  3. Horses will be divided into three groups and managed completely separately, foot dips and over-clothing should be used and changed between groups. If there are enough staff, the groups should be managed by different people, but if not, staff should work from clean to dirty across the day
    • RED – horses showing clinical signs even if ‘just’ a raised temperature. Cleanliness between horses is still important
    • AMBER – horses that were in contact with the affected horse, but are apparently health, for example, sharing a water trough, sharing equipment or stabled next door
    • GREEN – no known contact with horses in either the red or amber groups
  4. All healthy horses will have their temperature taken daily and any showing a raised temperature should be moved to the red group immediately
  5. Everyone who owns a horse on the yard should be made aware that Strangles has been diagnosed. There is commonly a lot of fuss and worry surrounding the diagnosis of Strangles, partly because on large-scale yards it can take a long time to bring under control and may end up having quite an economic impact. However, the fact remains that the more open people are about the situation, the better it can be managed by all involved
  6. Once horses are grouped in the red group, they are to remain there until three consecutive negative nasopharyngeal swabs are taken, or, for gold standard clearance, a one-off guttural pouch lavage with samples submitted for culture and PCR – a process that identifies bacterial DNA. This testing should be carried out a minimum of four weeks after the last horse resolves all clinical signs associated with the disease
  7. Horses in the green and amber groups should be blood tested

Assuming all tests come back clear, the yard can resume normal activity. Any positive or ‘grey area’ results will be treated accordingly’.

Treatment of a horse with Strangles is largely supportive unless complications arise. The use of antibiotics may be necessary in rare cases, but should be discussed with your vet.

Lymph nodes can be hot-packed to encourage maturation and abscess formation and some literature suggests that better drainage and resolution is achieved from this than by lancing the abscess before it bursts of its own accord. Identified carriers are treated by filling the guttural pouches with a gel form of penicillin followed by retesting two weeks down the line.

Preparations by BEF for leaving Europe

The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) has been preparing for when the UK leaves the European Union on March 29 2019.

Although the conditions of the UK’s departure are not yet clear the BEF has been working closely with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) as well as vets and other leaders in the equine industry to make sure horse owners are well informed of the preparations they need to make in the event of the UK leaving with No Deal.

The government has recently issued guidance to owners here.
Click on the four blue words for details.

The chief concern for owners will be transportation as there will be significant changes to the way that equines are moved to the EU from the UK.

Brexit is looming

Owners are being told they should take steps to prepare for a potential No Deal and should consult a vet at least six weeks before they intend to transport their equine as blood tests will be required to prove the absence of certain diseases.

There will also be changes to the documentation required for an equine to travel from the UK to the EU.

The BEF and DEFRA have compiled a FAQ on what action owners need to take. This can be found through the BEF website by clicking the blue word here:   Brexit.

As the conditions under which the UK leaves the EU become clearer, the BEF will continue to work closely with government and provide the most up-to-date information to owners.

New chairman for Equestrian Safety Group

The Equestrian Safety Group (ESG) is a group of representatives from a variety of organisations across the equine industry.

The group was formed in 2017 as an opportunity to provide a forum for discussion on and investigation into safety matters within the equestrian industry.

During the first meeting of 2019  a new Interim Chair was elected, Andrew Chadwick, representing British Eventing Organisers Association.

Andrew Chadwick     Photograph courtesy of British Horse Society

Andrew takes over from Clare Gabriel who founded the committee. The group has identified trailer and towing safety as a top priority for the focus of 2019.

They will be offering their support to the work currently being carried out by The British Horse Society on this subject.

RDA report on impact of volunteering

Following a survey of 1,629 volunteers, RDA has marked its 50thanniversary by launching a report on the impact of volunteering on health and wellbeing and the benefits for both RDA participants and the volunteers.

The report was presented at a recent Parliamentary Reception at Westminster, hosted by MP for Cheltenham, Alex Chalk on Wednesday. The charity called on the government to recognise the dual benefit that volunteering brings.

Local volunteer, Judi Singer was severely agoraphobic, but having been a horse rider, she joined her local RDA Group, Cranleigh in Surrey. She felt it would help her change her life – and it did.

Judy Singer presents award to fellow volunteer
Photo: Joanna Sale

She recalled:“To start I was only happy leading at the horse’s shoulder, not talking to anyone. But through the kindness and understanding of my colleagues, I started to progress and became able to join in the fun that everyone was having.

“Through the RDA volunteers’ non-judgmental understanding I am now able to go anywhere, speak to anyone, chair meetings and even speak in public”.

Judi Singer, second from right, with fellow RDA volunteers Photo: Joanna Sale

RDA’s 18,000 amazing volunteers contribute more than three million hours of their time each year and are the backbone of the organisation’s success. According to the report, 96 per cent of these volunteers said that RDA had improved their overall satisfaction with life, and 81 per cent said that volunteering makes them feel better about themselves.

RDA and its horses benefit the lives of 25,600 disabled children and adults through its 500 groups across the UK. Volunteers form an integral part in helping to transform the lives of those they help, whilst as the report acknowledges having a measurable impact on their own lives.

As RDA celebrates its 50th anniversary, there is still much to do to increase the number of people who can benefit from their work and so they have developed three calls to action to deliver its future plans and meet the ever-increasing demand for its services:

  • Government to recognise that volunteering for RDA delivers dual benefit for both the community and the individual volunteer and also contributes to tackling loneliness, and improving mental and physical health.
  • Local government and appropriate agencies, such as Clinical Commissioning Groups and local GP’s to signpost and refer volunteering opportunities through social prescribing, for volunteers to work with RDA.
  • Existing and new funding partners to support RDA in reaching more volunteers and enabling more people to benefit from activities.

RDA Chief Executive Ed Bracher said: “The report shows clear and robust evidence that our volunteers feel more useful and better about themselves, they are more sociable and physically active and learn new skills and gained more confidence.

“With a clear sense of our future vision and direction, RDA is committed to attracting and supporting increasing numbers of volunteers.”

This vital research carried out by RDA was funded by Sport England, through the British Equestrian Federation, as part of a wider grant to support volunteer development.