We are delighted to welcome Writtle University College as a member of NEWC. Established in 1893, Writtle is one of the oldest specialist institutions in the UK and offers a range of land-based, animal, sport and health courses at various levels of academic study. Their course provision includes a wide range of FE, HE and post-graduate level equine courses. Situated on a stunning estate of approximately 150 hectares, their Equine Training and Development Centre offers extensive facilities to optimise the student experience.
You can take a look at a day in the life of an equine student at Writtle below. Details of the equine courses offered and upcoming Open Days for prospective students are available here: writtle.ac.uk/
Redwings Horse Sanctuary has released video footage showing the effects of fireworks on some of their residents taken on Bonfire Night, Sunday 5th November.
Last week the largest horse welfare charity in the UK urged people to contact their local MP to ask for a review of fireworks legislation and the impact they have on animals.
Tragically, three ponies have died at Redwings in recent years because of fireworks being set off near their centres. A special podcast episode produced last year, which is still available to listen to here, told Cinders, Sprite and Percy’s stories.
Lynn Cutress, Redwings’ Chief Executive, said: “We are grateful to our neighbours who let us know about firework displays nearby but as you can see from this footage, which clearly shows the distress caused to our horses from firework displays last night, it isn’t enough.
“We have experienced the worst effects of fireworks here at Redwings, with three of our beloved residents dying in previous years because of large displays near our centres.
“We take all measures possible to protect our horses, ponies, donkeys and mules, including moving them to other locations, but as all horse owners know, this isn’t always an option.
“With many fireworks displays re-arranged due to wet weather, we are very concerned that their awful impact on animals is going to be prolonged this year as displays continue through November and beyond, and whilst our horses are so far thankfully okay, we know that other organisations haven’t been so lucky. We hope that by releasing this video people will see how distressing fireworks are for horses, as they are for other animals, and think again about the cost of using them.”
Last week, in a special podcast which you can listen to here, the charity revealed that it spent an extra £300 a night on additional staffing and forage to help protect horses from the adverse effects of fireworks at their south Norfolk centres last year. Staff were brought in for 50 extra hours during four nights in October and November, to counter any incidents caused by firework displays happening nearby. The total bill for the measures was almost £1500*.
Lynn said: “We increase our staffing levels at sites where we don’t have live-in staff over the fireworks season so that we can make more regular checks on our residents, in addition to making lots of other provisions, including putting out additional forage.
“As a prey species, horses are naturally fearful of loud noises. When they’re stressed and frightened, they can exhibit ‘flight’ behaviours, like galloping to the point of exhaustion or trying to escape their enclosure because they feel unsafe. This can be dangerous for the horse and any people who are near them, potentially including road users if horses become loose.
“The financial cost of the extra measures we take during the fireworks season is not insignificant to a charity like ours, but obviously our residents’ welfare is our top priority.”
Redwings supports the RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign and staff from the charity will be attending a Fireworks Working Group event for MPs at the House of Commons on 6th December.
Helen Whitelegg, Redwings’ Research and Policy Officer, said: “Currently, legislation in England and Wales allows fireworks to be set off legally on private property by any adult between 7.00 am and 11.00 pm every day of the year, except for Bonfire Night, when the cut off is extended until midnight, and New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is extended until 1 am. It is not a legal requirement to have any form of licence or training to let off consumer fireworks.
“Last year the Scottish Parliament passed the Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Bill which will tighten regulations in the country. Once the relevant provisions come into force, the Bill will introduce fireworks licensing and they will only be allowed to be supplied to, and used by, members of the public on certain dates around celebration periods. The Bill also grants local authorities the powers to set up ‘firework control zones’, though this is a lengthy, complex process requiring a public consultation and at least a 60-day notice period.
“Horses die or are injured in fireworks-related incidents every year** and Redwings wholeheartedly welcomes the tighter regulations that Scotland has introduced and is calling on Westminster to follow their lead.”
To donate towards Redwings’ care of the horses, ponies, donkeys and mules at their centres at this challenging time please go to redwings.org.uk
Extra staffing and forage to help protect horses from the adverse effects of fireworks cost Redwings over £300 a night at their south Norfolk centres* last year.
The biggest horse welfare charity in the UK brought staff in for over 50 additional hours during four nights in October and November, to counter any incidents caused by firework displays happening nearby. The total cost of the measures was almost £1500**.
Redwings is releasing the figures as part of the latest episodes of their Sounds of the Sanctuary podcast this week to raise awareness of the impact of fireworks.
Tragically, three ponies have died at Redwings in recent years because of fireworks being set off near their centres***. A special podcast episode produced last year, which is still available to listen to here, told Cinders (pictured right), Sprite and Percy’s stories.
Redwings supports the RSPCA’s #BangOutOfOrder campaign which is calling for Westminster to review fireworks legislation and the impact on animal welfare and is urging people to contact their local MP. Staff from the charity will be attending a Fireworks Working Group event for MPs at the House of Commons on 6th December.
Lynn Cutress, Redwings’ Chief Executive, said: “We have experienced the worst effects of fireworks here at Redwings, with three of our beloved residents dying because of large displays near our centres.
“We increase our staffing levels at sites where we don’t have live-in staff over the fireworks season so that we can make more regular checks on the horses, ponies, donkeys and mules in our care, in addition to making lots of other provisions, including putting out additional forage, but the reality is that we can’t eradicate all the negative effects of fireworks on our residents.
“As a prey species, horses are naturally fearful of loud noises. When they’re stressed and frightened they can exhibit ‘flight’ behaviours, like galloping to the point of exhaustion or trying to escape their enclosure because they feel unsafe. This can be dangerous for the horse and people who are near them, including potentially road users if horses become loose.
“The financial cost of the extra measures we take during the fireworks season is not insignificant to a charity like ours, but obviously our residents’ welfare is our top priority, and we do everything we can to keep them safe and happy.”
Currently, legislation in England and Wales allows fireworks to be set off legally on private property by any adult between 7.00 a.m. and 11.00 p.m. every day of the year, except for Bonfire Night, when the cut-off is extended until midnight, and New Year’s Eve, Diwali and Chinese New Year, when the cut off is extended until 1 am. It is not a legal requirement to have any form of licence or training to let off consumer fireworks.
Last year (June 2022), the Scottish Parliament passed the Fireworks and Pyrotechnics Articles (Scotland) Bill which will tighten regulations in the country. Once the relevant provisions come into force, the Bill will introduce fireworks licensing and fireworks will legally only be allowed to be supplied to, and used by, members of the public on certain dates (around celebration periods). The Bill also grants local authorities the powers to set up ‘firework control zones’, though this is a lengthy, complex process requiring a public consultation and at least a 60-day notice period.
Helen Whitelegg, Redwings’ Research and Policy Officer, said: “Horses die or are injured in fireworks-related incidents every year and Redwings wholeheartedly welcomes the tighter regulations that Scotland has introduced and is calling on Westminster to follow their lead.
“Having experienced first-hand the sometimes-tragic outcomes of fireworks being set off close to horses, we know the impact they have on naturally fearful flight animals like horses, alongside broader adverse effects on other animals and people with conditions such as PTSD or autism.
“We hope that the rescued equines who we care for at Redwings Mountains in Aberdeenshire, over 70 of them, will see the benefit of this greater protection from the multiple risks that fireworks present.”
To listen to the new episodes of Sounds of the Sanctuary as well as previous episodes, please click here.
To make a donation towards Redwings’ care of the horses, ponies, donkeys and mules at their centres at this challenging time please go to www.redwings.org.uk
HAPPA Direct, the premier shopping outlet of the Horses and Ponies Protection Association (HAPPA), a registered charity dedicated to equine welfare, is excited to announce its innovative Brand Ambassador Programme. This program seeks to engage a passionate and dedicated equestrian to represent the HAPPA Direct brand across the United Kingdom.
As the face of HAPPA Direct, the chosen Brand Ambassador will play a pivotal role in increasing community awareness about how shopping at HAPPA Direct directly contributes to HAPPA's mission of giving a second chance to neglected, abused, and unwanted equines through rescue, rehabilitation, rehoming, and education. Charity bosses are specifically looking for a brand ambassador who owns or loans a horse that has previously been rescued from cruelty or neglect.
Sarah Arthur, HAPPA Chief Executive Officer, explains, “This is an opportunity to celebrate a horse rescue success story. Our brand ambassador will have a compelling story to tell about the horse they care for and advocate how rescue horses can compete against the best in the show ring, dressage or show jumping arena.
The Brand Ambassador will actively spread the word about HAPPA Direct over a six-month period, leveraging their equestrian knowledge and community presence. This entails endorsing the values and goals of HAPPA, fostering camaraderie within the shop community, and encouraging others to support equine welfare.”
In return, the Brand Ambassador will enjoy a host of benefits, including:
The search is on for an exceptional individual who aligns with HAPPA's ethos and can authentically promote its values. The ideal Brand Ambassador will reside in or around Lancashire, and demonstrate a strong passion for equine and rider welfare, the chosen ambassador will be 18 years or older or have parental consent if under the age of 18.
The application process involves two rounds: an initial written submission and a follow-up video introduction showcasing the applicant and their equine partner. The video introductions will be shared on HAPPA Direct's social media platforms, and followers will vote for the winner. Applications open from October 27th to November 27th.
To apply or learn more about the HAPPA Direct Brand Ambassador Programme, please visit the application form linked here. In case of any enquiries, applicants can also contact Amanda at email@example.com
A handy card containing a scannable QR code will be available for free from the Redwings stand (D40) throughout the event. It will enable vets to access guidance and tips in the diagnosis and management of the infectious equine disease from professional peers with extensive experience in guttural pouch endoscopy, and contact details to access one-to-one telephone contact with a clinical mentor.
The Scheme, which is part of Redwings' long-running Stamp Out Strangles Campaign to reduce cases in the UK, has been operational since this February.
NEWC Director, Nic de Brauwere, who is Head of Welfare and Behaviour at Redwings, said: “If you are a vet who is dealing with a tricky strangles case, would like to skill up on guttural pouch endoscopy or are unsure which scoping tools are best in different situations, then we are here to help.
“We have been offering this service on an ad hoc basis for some time but formalised the operation of it earlier this year.
“This card is designed to keep somewhere handy, with quick access to the growing resources we are investing in making available and a direct line to us here at Redwings for further support.”
The Scheme offers:
Nic de Brauwere is attending BEVA congress, along with other members of the Redwings strangles campaign team. The charity’s stand will have promotional information about the Scheme, as well as information about the charity’s work as co-ordinators of the annual Strangles Awareness Week which takes place in May and the latest information on the disease.
Helen Whitelegg, Research and Policy Officer at Redwings, will be speaking on the Infectious Disease Panel on Thursday afternoon. She said: "We're delighted to be able to talk to vets about the Human Behaviour Change approach we use to campaign on strangles. We know that information alone has limited impact, so we're working to make practical biosecurity a simpler, more achievable part of everyday horse care."
To contact Redwings’ Scoping Support Scheme email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01508 481008.
There are some BIG numbers there and, although it takes time to collate data from such a widespread campaign, we want to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who made a difference:
Your commitment, positivity and creativity achieves so much for horse health!
Following such a successful week, the SAW Collaborators are already planning next year's campaign. Never ones to rest on our laurels, we want to reach even more people with information and ideas that will help prevent the spread of this nasty, common, but often avoidable disease.
We welcome comments, suggestions and feedback so get in touch anytime at email@example.com and watch this space for news and updates over the coming months!
Quarantine is in place at Redwings Horse Sanctuary’s Hapton site in Norfolk after a horse tested positive for strangles.
Although the site is not a visitor centre, the charity, which is the biggest horse welfare charity in the UK, is asking people who may have cause to walk through or attend a meeting at their HQ, near Norwich, to adhere to strict restrictions.
Strangles is spread by direct contact with the disease or contaminated people or objects and is not airborne - therefore there is no risk of this particular bug getting to any local equines, provided all quarantine measures are followed.
Nic de Brauwere, NEWC Director and Head of Welfare and Behaviour at Redwings, said: “We routinely put precautionary quarantine in place on our farms when any equine shows possible signs of an infectious disease. Testing is done and typically we will stop quarantine when we can establish that the signs were due to another cause, relying on the laboratory results and the expertise of our vets to assess the case as it develops.
“We regularly deal with cases of strangles and other infectious diseases in new arrivals at our reception facility where the equines remain until they are disease free. It’s very unusual to find a case in a longer-term resident, but we approach it in exactly the same way to ensure we haven’t missed a disease getting through our net or finding a new way into the herd.
“On this occasion, a single field of ponies within one of our resident herds at our headquarters in Norfolk had been placed into precautionary quarantine and the pony we were concerned about then tested positive for strangles. The affected pony has been moved to our dedicated quarantine yard. No further cases have been identified but we have adopted an early and widespread quarantine to prevent direct spread from horse to horse, and indirectly via equipment and people.
“It is a very interesting case given it was found in an elderly resident who has been at Redwings for many years, and we haven’t been managing any other cases of strangles at either this site or our quarantine yard. Our initial diagnosis of a tooth abscess is also affecting the pony but strangles is also in the mix of bugs affecting his sinuses, so the approach of precautionary quarantine has rewarded us with being able to limit spread even before we knew what was wrong.
“The version of strangles we have identified is lacking certain key features that would typically be expected when one gets a positive test result, possibly reducing the risk of spread and severity of the disease. We are investigating this with interest and will share the lessons from this case to contribute to wider knowledge of the disease.
“We will maintain quarantine until we are assured that there are no cases on the farm. All fields in the quarantine areas have been taped off to members of the public, so it is important to adhere to the restrictions we’ve put in place.”
As well as leading Strangles Awareness Week during the first week of May, Redwings has campaigned to improve biosecurity procedures and tackle the stigma associated with the disease since 2018 and has recruited hundreds of horse owners, yard managers and equine professionals to their Stamp Out Strangles pledge which aims to incentivize better biosecurity before an outbreak happens.
Andie McPherson, Campaigns Manager at Redwings, said: “In light of this case we'd encourage horse owners to remember not to become complacent about strangles and to be prepared to respond to symptoms and signs of infectious disease until it can be ruled out. Protect horses by knowing your horse’s normal temperature and taking temperatures routinely so you are better placed to respond if a horse spikes a fever.
“One way to be prepared for strangles is to read our Stamp Our Strangles Pledge and make that simple commitment to good biosecurity best practices. Don't forget to get your yard involved next May to help promote disease prevention.”
Strangles is the most diagnosed equine infectious disease worldwide. Symptoms of the contagious respiratory illness range, but include a high fever, laboured breathing, difficulty eating, depression, thick nasal discharge and painful abscesses. In severe cases, Strangles can pose a risk to the horse’s life. There are complications in approximately 30% of cases and it is impossible to know which horses will require extra care and treatment. For the cost of a thermometer and spotting fever, owners can minimise scale and spread.
Please visit Redwings’ website to make your pledge to good biosecurity practices and find out more about Strangles: redwings.org.uk/strangles
British Racing’s Horse Welfare Board has launched the first-ever thoroughbred census in Great Britain, in collaboration with research experts at Hartpury University.
All owners of former racehorses are being asked to submit a completed census between 28 June – 31 December 2023. The census will help build an improved thoroughbred data bank about former racehorses and the lives they go on to lead.
The project’s primary objective is to help improve the traceability of thoroughbreds after they have retired from racing. With improved data, British Racing and its aftercare charity, Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), can better support owners with access to educational resources and routes to compete if desired, as well as continue to build informed and helpful communities.
Improved data at this stage of a thoroughbred’s life can also help the Horse Welfare Board and RoR improve and adapt welfare initiatives and will, most importantly, enable fast and effective contact in the event of an equine disease outbreak.
The census will request information on each horse’s equine identification document (passport) number, microchip number, age, current residence, second career, and more to provide a robust view of the 2023 British retired racehorse population.
The six-month census has been launched in partnership with Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), British Racing’s official aftercare charity, funded by the Racing Foundation, and is supported by World Horse Welfare and Weatherbys General Stud Book.
Helena Flynn, Programme Director, Horse Welfare Board, said: “Improving the traceability of thoroughbreds after they retire from racing is a fundamental part of the Horse Welfare Board’s five-year welfare strategy. The launch of this census is a significant project to help increase the depth, quality, and volume of data about thoroughbreds at this important stage of their lives.
“Just as importantly, this campaign will help us talk about responsible ownership and the critical part every thoroughbred owner plays in ensuring their equine identification document (passport)is up to date. We are delighted to be working with Hartpury University on the census and hope that between us we can encourage as many owners as possible to participate.”
Jane Williams, Head of Research at Hartpury University, added: “We’re delighted to be part of this proactive initiative as Hartpury is committed to supporting the equine sector to improve the quality of life of the horses we all love. The census will present an opportunity to understand more about the lifetime care of thoroughbreds, generate evidence to safeguard against future disease outbreaks, and showcase the huge benefits thoroughbreds bring to so many people.”
The primary source of traceability for all horses in Great Britain is the equine identification document (passport), which new owners of any horse are required to update within 30 days of new ownership. During their racing careers, this information is meticulously maintained with the Weatherbys General Stud Book via breeders, owners, and trainers.
However, data for former racehorses reduces significantly when they go into private ownership after their first step out of racing, with general equine identification document (passport) compliance at an average of 20% across the equestrian world. The reasons for this are presumed to be a lack of understanding of the importance of this step, confusion on costs, the desire to hold on to the document after a horse has died and general apathy to engage in the process.
As a result, an additional objective of the census will be to communicate to private owners and encourage them to take action, to check their horse’s equine identification document (passport) and if needed, to get it updated. At the same time, owners of horses who were registered with a licenced British trainer in their past will be encouraged to register their horses for free with Retraining of Racehorses (RoR).
David Catlow, Managing Director, Retraining of Racehorses, added: “We are pleased to be teaming up with the Horse Welfare Board and Hartpury University to encourage owners of former racehorses to participate in the census survey. The ‘social licence’ for the use of horses in sport is under increasing scrutiny and what happens to former racehorses after they retire from racing is identified as a particular concern. This is a significant step towards ensuring thoroughbreds enjoy a healthy and caring existence during their lifetimes and will provide the racing industry with the relevant data to guide future decisions”.
RoR is a thriving community which provides thoroughbred owners with access to education, advice, and an established series of events to support the ongoing healthy, happy lives of former racehorses. By registering horses with RoR’s free membership option, owners can help racing to ensure future traceability through its annual check on their horse’s status.
Roly Owers OBE, CEO, World Horse Welfare, said: “This is an excellent initiative along the road of improving the traceability for all thoroughbreds. Full traceability lasts a lifetime as a horse bred for racing will always be a racehorse in the eyes of the public, and they rightly hold the industry responsible for them throughout their lives. There really is a collective responsibility to make this work towards the much-needed goal of full traceability, both for the sake of the horses and the reputation of the industry.”
The 2023 Thoroughbred Census can be completed online HERE, as well as at key equine events throughout the rest of the year, before closing on 31 December 2023. Completion of the census is not compulsory, but owners are strongly encouraged to join the community and participate. Full results will be reported during the first quarter of 2024.
Understand Horses, is a course platform created to bring high-quality education to horse owners and equine professionals. Course contributors are all experts in their field – highly qualified professionals who are passionate about presenting practical, evidence-based information on a range of topics including horse behaviour, training, nutrition, physiology and welfare. Course content is updated when new research is published to ensure students are receiving the most up-to-date information available.
As an organisation, Understand Horses is passionate about educating the equestrian public about best practices and good welfare in all aspects of equine management and training. They have been working with equine welfare charities and organisations to provide high-quality continuing professional development for their staff and hold online courses and live events to educate horse owners and caretakers about how they can improve the management and training of their equines to improve their quality of life.
Find out more about Understand Horses and their course provision here: understandhorses.com/
Almost one in five horse owners (20%) who took the survey said they are having to consider difficult decisions such as selling their horse, sharing their horse or, very sadly, having to euthanase their horse because of rising costs.
Over 8,000 people answered questions like ‘What changes, if any, have you seen in horse care costs in the last year’ and ‘What changes have you made, or are considering, to save money?’.
The data suggest that many owners are prioritising caring for their horses over caring for themselves. Just under 20% of respondents said they had cut expenditures on horse care, while almost 50% said they had cut expenditures in other areas of their life to help pay for their horses’ care.
Ninety per cent said they have experienced increases in the price of horse feed, forage, bedding and fuel with the biggest ongoing concerns around the price of feed, forage and veterinary care.
Carolyn Madgwick, Chair of the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC), of which all the charities and organisations are members, said: “NEWC has been a united voice on equine welfare matters for over three decades and member organisations from across the equine sector have seen for themselves how sharply horse care costs have risen in recent months.
“In December 2022 and January 2023, a small group of members, led by Redwings Horse Sanctuary, conducted this survey on our behalf to gather evidence, share that information with the United Kingdom and devolved governments, and identify what advice and support may be helpful.
“The high number of responses to the survey – more than 8,000 – shows how important this issue is for many people and the findings indicate that the impact of these financially challenging times is being felt across the whole of the UK. Sadly, the situation is only going to worsen with the interest rate increase announced last week, which is sure to have a huge impact on a lot of owners.”
A second survey, conducted by World Horse Welfare on behalf of NEWC, asked equine welfare establishments about their experiences.
Almost half (50%) of the 36 centres who completed the survey will minimise the number of equines they take in and implement stricter selection criteria for these equines, with just under 25% saying that they will stop taking in new equines altogether.
Carolyn said: “It is a deeply worrying time for our members, who know they are often the last hope for equines in need.
“While only a small number of horse owners said they had already reached a point where they were unable to meet their horses’ basic care needs, many owners are having to reduce their routine preventative healthcare practices, increasing the risk of issues arising that they may struggle to afford to address**. There is also clear concern among many more about the effect of continued financial pressures through 2023. The number of owners struggling to maintain their horses’ welfare will only increase if the current economic climate continues into a second winter season, as it looks like it will.
“We’ll be monitoring the situation closely over the coming months and devising ways to provide targeted advice and support where possible. Follow-up surveys are planned for later this year to assess the continued impact of living costs on horses, their owners and welfare establishments.”
Both reports are now available to download below. Advice for horse owners on Cutting Costs Not Care can also be found here.
*The research was undertaken on behalf of NEWC by Redwings Horse Sanctuary, World Horse Welfare, Blue Cross, The British Horse Society, Oak Tree Animal Sanctuary and the British Farrier and Blacksmith Association.
**Just under 1% (0.7%) of owners said they can't meet their horses' basic needs. 15.7% said they are extending the time between routine visits. 5.6% are delaying veterinary visits and 7.1% are reducing or stopping vaccinations.