Getting it right from the start!
As with any large organisation or indeed small privately run enterprise, health and safety of its personnel is of paramount importance. However, within the equine world this takes on a whole new meaning. We have all seen how many stable environments are in better condition than the owner's own home!
We understand this, which is why we have taken the step to introduce such an advanced product for our equine family with a focus on SAFETY.
What is Bio Security?
A set of practical measures, put in place to prevent the introduction, spread or growth of harmful micro-organisms that may cause infectious disease or pose a risk to the health of your horses.
What are the most common pathogens horse owners need to be aware of?
Streptococcus equi, EHV, Equine Influenza, Trichophyton (ringworm).
However these are the most visible - there are plenty of other pathogens such as Aspergillus (fungal spore) and Cryptosporidium which are present, in fact abundant, but many of us would not be aware of them. These will affect your horses without you being able to pinpoint the problem.
When are yards most at risk of bringing in new infections?
The biggest risk to a horse is travel: the travelling can stress a horse out, which in turn will weaken its defense system. This once again highlights the importance of good bio security, as you need to give your horse the best chance at fighting infection.
Travelling will increase the risk of cross-contamination, particularly if you are staying in temporary stabling facilities where other horses have stayed. Their faeces can be left in a stable prior to your visit.
There are many environments in which bacteria can thrive where you least expect or anticipate – such as the surfaces in indoor show rings; where 'sand sore' and thrush can develop. This is because some of the modern surfaces, which are a mixture of fine fibres and wax, can remain warm and hold moisture - leading to a risk of horses developing bacterial infections of the hoof or frog such as thrush.
Do you need to be aware of Bio Security if you don’t compete or have a small yard?
Yes, if you think of the description set out as to what Bio Security is, then there are plenty of dangers posed by being a custodian of a horse including mud fever and bacterial growth under matting (particularly where moisture exists combined with residual food and bedding caught underneath).
Overhanging trees, dripping leaves which hold moisture around the facility. Improved ventilation - as air will leave a building much quicker than it enters, so knocking out a brick in the back of a stable is one of the easiest fixes.
Segregation - of feed, bedding, and waste. The muck trailer - there is no point putting your muck trailer outside where the prevailing wind can just blow all the spores and rotting bedding which carry bacteria and spores back into the barn in which you have conducted good Bio Security. We know of a case at a yard where a Grand Prix horse needs nebulising as it is has reaction in the summer to spores blowing in.
What are the precautions that yards can take to protect themselves?
One of the issues with pathogens are that they exist in different guises, and not all of them can be dealt with retrospectively, i.e. you cannot treat a virus with anti-biotics, so prevention is KEY. In addition, one of the major misunderstandings is that if you isolate a horse then the problem is gone. The Covid world has gone some way to illustrating this point, but a pathogen can exist and even thrive on an inanimate surface for a number of weeks!
There is no substitute for prevention. However, this is no simple solution either as the process of ‘disinfecting’ has it’s own threats and dangers.
Not all disinfectants will kill all equine pathogens - beware the '99%' claim. Beware the residual effect to your horse - BAC.
Many disinfectants that are used for horses, are not designed for use around them, or the environment.
Use an anti-pathogen in the washing machine for rugs. Dip bridles in a solution of a good product, make sure you clean and disinfect the feed mangers, water troughs and drinkers.
If you wouldn’t spray it on your child's highchair, then don’t use it around your horse. A horse gallops with its lungs and all the air intake is through the nostril, that’s a powerful and highly effective air intake. Be very careful what goes in there!
How can you mitigate risks while you’re out and about?
It’s a little like carrying hand gel or hand sanitiser when you are heading out to travel on a train or plane - you can use a simple ready-to-use spray. I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the imaginative uses for a trigger spray – applying it onto one's boots between horses, applying to tack, especially girths (we've seen many examples of hives and bumps around this area).
On an extensive or complicated - or indeed emergency job, such as dealing with a viral/bacterial breakout, we would gain a complete understanding of the requirements and deliver a service accordingly.
In the case of a confirmed infestation or outbreak, we could alter the balance of the product and take the necessary steps in order to deal with the threat head-on, whilst remaining within the boundaries of DEFRA approval.