The stable yard on the Oatridge campus of Scotland’s Rural College is the latest accredited to a UK wide scheme protecting horses from Strangles.
The Premium Assured Strangles Scheme (PASS) was launched by SRUC with the support of the British Horse Society. For the Oatridge yard manager Shirley Melling and her colleagues achieving PASS accreditation has meant not only dealing with SRUC’s horses but also the owners and vets of other horses stabled on the site at Broxburn, West Lothian. She said:
“I am delighted to achieve accreditation. Our yard is a busy teaching facility with the horses ridden daily in the arenas of the Scottish National Equestrian Centre. In addition to riding we teach horse care, and many other practical aspects of the equine industry, so co-ordinating the PASS application took longer than on some commercial yards.”
Events at Oatridge have been welcomed by those promoting horse welfare and activity. Marie-Claire Nimmo, the Chairperson of the National Pony Society (Scotland) commented:
“Well done Oatridge – its good to see Scotland’s top equine establishment leading the way with demonstrating freedom from strangles.”
Strangles is a common, highly infectious disease of horses caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus equi . It affects the lymph glands around the throat and can lead to dangerous abscesses and swelling, hence the name strangles. It is not air borne but passed on through horse to horse contact or via contaminated surfaces, including tack and clothing. Horses in riding schools, livery yards, racing stables or stud farms can be particularly susceptible.
According to Alison Braddock of SRUC’s SAC Consulting, Veterinary Services, who helps co-ordinate the PASS scheme, an increasing number of yards are considering this proactive approach to a disease many in the horse world fear.
“It means everyone in the yard working together, including horse owner clients and with vets involved at every stage. All horses in the yard are blood tested and if no traces of Strangles are found, the yard achieves a PASS accreditation. If any horses are found to be carrying Strangles, they must be isolated and treated to eliminate infection before receiving PASS accreditation.”
PASS scheme members follow practical biosecurity guidelines to reduce further risk, including testing new arrivals and taking sensible precautions to reduce exposure at shows, events or competitions. These steps follow the British Horse Society’s STEPS guidelines (Strategy to Eradicate and Prevent Strangles).
With the involvement of vets so important Shirley Melling praises the help given by Susan Donaldson from Clyde Vet Group who tested four of the horses at Oatridge and Louise Cornish from the Dick Vet Equine Practice who did a massive amount of work with tests and results for 20 more.
“For her the work meant a lot of coming back and forth”, says Shirley. “As you can imagine we were anxious to hear results as soon as possible!”
The Oatridge yard is a very secure, modern building including 29 stables, hot water wash bay, handling stocks and horse walker. Shirley acknowledges the key role Yard Supervisor Gordon Todd plays in maintaining biosecurity.
“It needs constant awareness and monitoring of who is coming to the yard. That can be difficult being linked to the Scottish National Equestrian Centre as horses from various locations are frequently visiting to compete in the arenas. Gordon is my second set of eyes and ensures even our students arrive well informed. Quite often they have their own horses at home and don’t understand the need to change their clothing before entering a different yard.”
Further information about PASS is available at www.equinehealthscheme.com. Or contact Alison Braddock, Marketing and Business Development Manager, Alison.Braddock@sac.co.uk, 07827 283371, or SAC Veterinary Services, Edinburgh on 0131 535 3130 or VCEdinburgh@sac.co.uk.