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Minister Announces Next Steps For Equine Industry At The National Equine Forum

13 years ago

16th March, 2011 16h43

The 19th National Equine Forum (NEF), held Tuesday 8th March 2011, saw James Paice MP announcing the government’s important next steps for the equine industry. It was also the launch pad for the results of the UK’s first public National Equine Health Survey. The event was attended by over 200 of the country’s most influential members of the equestrian industry, including NEF President HRH The Princess Royal, leading equine vets, international riders and trainers, equestrian society figureheads, business leaders and numerous members of the equestrian trade industry. James Paice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, discussed the threat of exotic disease and the importance of working together on disease control with the help of the new equine Core Group of experts, which was established last year to advise Defra on disease control measures. He explained the advantages to horse owners of signing up to the Animal Health Agency’s text messaging system for immediate disease alerts. He reported that the recommendations of the Responsibility and Cost Sharing Advisory Group are currently being considered and only when responsibility sharing arrangements had been established would any form of cost sharing be implemented. The Minister also spoke of new rules with regard to Contagious Equine Metritis now allowing owners of breeding horses to export their stock to India, which has opened an important market for the industry. On the subject of Horse Passports he reiterated that the government’s original proposal to have just one issuing body had now been dropped and that the contract with the National Equine Database has been extended while new proposals are drawn up, with the help of the industry, to help improve the scheme. In terms of Defra’s involvement with the London Olympics, testing plans for the movement of horses as well as contingency planning for exotic diseases were being developed to ensure that the UK was prepared should the worst happen. Equine health and disease management were recurring themes throughout the day with Professor Josh Slater announcing the results of the UK’s first ever public National Equine Health Survey. The survey, which was pioneered by The Blue Cross animal charity and is supported by The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), was conducted last November and involved data from 3120 horses. The survey, which is helping to pinpoint the current, non-notifiable healthcare issues affecting horses, ponies, donkeys and mules in the UK is breaking new ground in Europe as well as the UK. Currently Government agencies in all European countries conduct surveillance for prescribed exotic diseases such as West Nile Virus and African Horse Sickness but at present there are no large scale surveillance programmes for endemic diseases. Professor Slater explained that the survey should provide a future benchmarking facility for equine disease, welfare, standards of care and codes of practice and it has also confirmed the workability of an important template to monitor the serious threat of infectious and exotic disease in the future. The results showed that lameness was the most common problem affecting horses (11% of horses surveyed) but that, unexpectedly, the foot was not the most common cause of lameness and that laminitis (3%) was less common than the 7-8% total that previous surveys had suggested. Weight management was the next most common issue for horse owners, with 9% of horses recorded as overweight and 8% as underweight. Professor Tim Morris, Chair of the British Horse Industry Confederation, discussed how this organisation was working closely with Defra and with James Paice on disease prevention as well as transport access, passports and identification. Dr Georgina Crossman talked about disease surveillance and management in the EU as a part of her thesis contrasting the equine policy networks and organisational landscapes of the horse industry in England, Sweden and the Netherlands. Presentations were also received from:HRH The Princess Royal, President of the NEF concluded the day. The full proceedings can be downloaded from the NEF website at The National Equine Forum is chaired by Professor Sir Colin Spedding and is convened by Miles Williamson-Noble. It is usually attended by HRH The Princess Royal, its President, and is supported by the Association of British Riding Schools, Bedmax, The Blue Cross, British Equestrian Federation, British Equestrian Trade Association, British Equestrian Veterinary Association, British Horse Society, British Horseracing Authority, Bulley Davey, Darby’s Solicitors, Dodson and Horrell, Donkey Sanctuary, Equine Products UK, , Horse Trust, Jeffress Scholarship Trust, , NFU Mutual Insurance, South Essex Insurance Brokers, Weatherbys and World Horse Welfare. The full proceedings of the 2011 Forum can be downloaded at The 2012 National Equine Forum will be held on Thursday 8 March 2012 at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Westminster, London.

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