Strangles research sees Redwings Horse Sanctuary ride to award success

Redwings Horse Sanctuary won the Health and Welfare Award at the Animal Health Trusts UK Equestrian Awards, held at The London Marriott Hotel, on Tuesday 31, October. Picture:  Animal Health Trust.
Redwings Horse Sanctuary won the Health and Welfare Award at the Animal Health Trusts UK Equestrian Awards, held at The London Marriott Hotel, on Tuesday 31, October. Picture: Animal Health Trust.

A Norfolk horse sanctuary, with a branch in Roydon, has said it is ‘absolutely delighted’ after receiving a award for its research into strangles.

Redwings Horse Charity was presented with the Health and Welfare Award at the Animal Health Trust’s UK Equestrian Awards, held at The London Marriott Hotel on Tuesday 31 October.

I am honoured to be accepting this award for each and every one of them as well as those who continue to lead the way in encouraging owners to speak out about strangles

Lynn Cutress

The charity carried out a survey of over 2,000 horse owners to assess awareness of strangles, attitudes towards the disease and biosecurity practices.

Lynn Cutress, Redwings’ chief executive, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been recognised for our ‘Stamp out strangles’ campaign and wish to thank the Animal Health Trust for its support both during our outbreak and for our ongoing campaign work.

“Our own strangles outbreak affected every team in the charity – I am so proud of everyone for their unwavering dedication and support at this challenging time, and I am honoured to be accepting this award for each and every one of them as well as those who continue to lead the way in encouraging owners to speak out about strangles.”

“At the time of our outbreak we felt that it was essential for us to speak out immediately and continued to do so with the launch of our survey.

“While our herd is now disease free, the battle rages on to remove the shroud of shame and, sometimes, ambivalence associated with strangles.”

The 2016 survey, developed in collaboration with the University of Liverpool, attracted almost 5,000 respondents, with 2002 completing the 60 plus question survey in full.

Redwings said responses to questions throughout the survey showed an interest and willingness from owners to improve biosecurity. Over 90 per cent of respondents believed strangles should be more of a priority in the UK. However, despite the eagerness for strangles to be a priority, only 13 per cent of respondents who kept horses at a livery yard had their horse screened on arrival and 74.8 per cent said their yard did not have a screening protocol.

Dr Andrew Waller is head of bacteriology at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) and was involved during Redwings’ outbreak.

He said: “The AHT has worked closely with Redwings on better understanding the persistence of the bug responsible for strangles.

“The AHT applauds Redwings openness in publicising that it had strangles, and its thoroughness and timeliness in dealing with the problem – it is a great example for others in the horse sector, which is why they are worthy winners.”