The Stigma of Strangles

As many people will now, strangles is doing the rounds in the UK. 

It’s a horrible, infectious disease, but made all the worse by the stigma attached to it.

If you’ve got strangles at your yard or you’ve been in contact with a strangles case then JUST ADMIT IT! I know, it’s a pain in the bum and disinfecting everywhere is a huge inconvenience, but by being a responsible horse owner, yard owner, farrier, chiropractor, saddler, you are helping prevent the spread of the disease.

Contracting strangles is like getting head lice. With the best will in the world it can happen. It’s not a reflection on your stable management or hygiene, it’s bad luck – being in the wrong place at the wrong time. What is a reflection on your stable management is how you deal with your situation. Calling the vet, isolating the case, informing visitors to the yard (this week’s and last week’s), stopping horses entering and exiting the site, disinfecting contaminated stables and equipment, informing large local yards and competition venues, and withdrawing from competitions. Not acting responsibly reflects badly on you, and ruins your reputation for years. 

Plus, think about it this way. You don’t tell your farrier you have strangles, even just the one known case, but one of the horses being shod is incubating the disease. The farrier gets contaminated on his apron, tools, van, everything. Then he packs up his gear, and heads off to another yard. He has another five yards to visit that day. Shoeing two horses per yard means that there are now ten horses infected. That doesn’t include the two that he patted on the way past, or the owner who’s hand he shook, or the wrong head collar he picked up…

But if the farrier had known your yard had strangles he would have come last thing in the afternoon, and gone home to wash himself and his tools. And what do you know, no spread of strangles!

No professional wants to be implicated in the spread of an illness; their reputation is at stake too. Welfare of the horses they work with is paramount to them, after all, no horse no work. Plus take into account the fact that most professionals have their own horse, who’s health they definitely don’t want to risk.

We, as the equestrian community should remove the stigma from strangles, to enable everyone to talk openly about the disease so that it can be more easily monitored and controlled. No one wants the disease, so why inflict it upon others because of your ignorance? Even the professionals who move between yards have to shoulder responsibility for reducing the risk of contamination, but they can only do that if yard owners are honest with them!

Rant over, I apologise if anyone needed an uplifting post today!

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