Posted on February 24th, 2015

Confirmed: Two Cases of Strangles in Norfolk

On Thursday night one of the resident horses at the Redwings Piggots site in South Norfolk was confirmed to have strangles after a routine check found it had nasal discharge. The horse, a 6-year-old bay gelding, was immediately put into isolation at the charity’s quarantine centre and all movements between sites were suspended as a precaution. Another horse was found showing symptoms the following day and is now also in quarantine.

All sites and areas where the contact may have happened are now locked down to prevent any further spread and the Redwings veterinary team are running tests on any horses who may have had contact with the infected equines to ensure they are isolated and treated if required and using their extensive records to find possible routes of entry.

Strangles is a highly contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat) that spreads very rapidly through contact with infected mucus, either directly between horses or indirectly with contaminated items such as feed and water containers. It can be infectious even when symptoms are not showing which is why is it very challenging to contain. Although strangles is usually not fatal it can cause real distress and can result in large abscesses that prevent swallowing and restrict breathing. It is endemic in the UK horse population and is particularly common in immunocompromised animals. As a result Redwings’ Reception Centre staff deal with it routinely in the rescue and neglect cases they take in but this is the first time in 23 years there has been a case within the charity’s resident herd.

Redwings Head of Welfare and Senior Vet Nic de Brauwere said: “We have extremely stringent quarantine procedures in place and every horse that comes in to the Sanctuary is screened and cleared before they join a farm like Piggots. It just shows that no system or test is 100% effective. We are very proud of, and invest a lot of time, care and resources into our quarantine systems and so if we can get an unexpected case amongst our residents at Redwings, I believe that it shows that anyone can. It’s not a notifiable disease but it’s so prevalent and contagious that we believe anyone finding themselves suffering an outbreak should, for the sake of the wider horse population, do the responsible thing and be up front and open about the situation so the proper steps get taken to bring cases and the spread to a halt.”

Redwings Chief Executive Lynn Cutress said: “With a resident herd of 1,500 horses and so many new arrivals and unavoidable movements between our sites, a strangles outbreak is one of the biggest risks for our organisation, and unfortunately even taking into account all the robust controls and systems we have in place to prevent it we can never fully eliminate that risk. However, this also means that no one is better placed to deal with this than us. Our knowledgeable teams of vets and care staff were fully prepared, they manage and deal with cases of strangles all the time in our new arrivals and they have dealt with this situation in an equally calm and professional manner.”

Both horses are now under treatment and are making good progress. The Sanctuary is actively monitoring and testing other horses in its resident herd who may have been in contact with the infected equines, and it has promised weekly updates via its website All Redwings visitor centres are open as normal and while any rehoming has been temporarily suspended it is hoped this will be reinstated very soon.

FEB15 News Strangles

Posted on February 24th, 2015

Local Vets ‘overwhelmed’ by public who have taken Gizmo to their heart

A four month-old foal is in a critical condition after he was found dying by the side of the road in Essex.

The RSPCA was called after Gizmo, a tiny piebald cob, was found without his mother near Ridgewell Caravan Park in Yeldham Road, Ridgewell in Halstead in an emaciated, extremely poorly state on Tuesday 17th February.

Along with the police and a vet, vet nurse and yard manager from nearby Catley Cross Veterinary Clinic, we attended and took him into care where he is now fighting for his life. A short Facebook appeal has received with an overwhelming response from the public, who have all rung the centre to help.

As well as being extremely underweight, he was riddled with lice, has redworm, was hypothermic, dehydrated and has since been found to have pneumonia.

RSPCA inspector Sarah Elmy said: “Poor Gizmo was just abandoned without his mum and left to die by the side of the road.

“He was so weak he was just collapsed and couldn’t – and still can’t – stand, and you can see every bone in his body, he’s so thin. We had to carry him to the van on a rug.

“He was so keen to live, though, bless him. Even though he was lying flat out, he was trying to reach forward and crawl himself along the ground to get to grass. As soon as we propped him up he was nibbling, trying to eat from our hand. It was so heartbreaking.

“I just really hope he pulls through. He’s certainly trying his best.”

Veterinary surgeon Carolyn Wise said: “It is touch and go at the moment – Gizmo is walking a fine line.

“But he is eating and trying to live so we have everything crossed he will pull through – he is such a lovely foal. He has melted all our hearts.

“It seems we are not the only ones as we have been overwhelmed by people phoning us wanting to help, after we put up a short appeal on our Facebook page.

“We are so grateful for such a heartwarming response – it just shows you how much people care.”

For those wanting to donate towards Gizmo’s care should call 0300 123 0346 or visit

For regular updates on Gizmo from Catley Cross Veterinary Clinic visit

FEB15 News Gizmo2

Posted on February 18th, 2015

Sentences Handed to Peterborough Trio who Ignored the Suffering of Six Ponies

A mother and her daughter who allowed their ponies to continue suffering from such chronic laminitis that two of them had to be put to sleep have received suspended prison sentences.

Teresa O’Rourke (55) of Oxney Road, Peterborough, her daughter Sarah O’Rourke (22) of Saltmarsh, Peterborough and Christopher Kenneally (54) of The Parade, Stanground appeared in Peterborough Magistrates Court on 2nd February for sentencing under Section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act.  Mr Kenneally pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, whilst the O’Rourke’s changed their plea to guilty at the last minute on the first day of the trial.

Palomino Shetland, Pamela, her mother Lucy, as well as mother and daughter Carly and Prancer, came to World Horse Welfare when a concerned member of the public called our Welfare Line about the group. “I could see immediately that five of the six ponies were showing signs of laminitis but unfortunately Mrs O’Rourke would not allow us to enter the property to inspect them more closely,” said World Horse Welfare Field Officer Jacko Jackson, who was first on the scene.

Jacko returned the following day with the police, RSPCA and a vet and all six ponies were removed on welfare grounds. “Sadly two of the ponies, Chester and Tara, had such chronic laminitis that they were put to sleep – it would have been impossible for them to make a pain-free recovery,” explains Jacko who said he had never come across so many horses suffering from laminitis at the same time in one location. “The grazing was very lush and there was no indication that it was being restricted or that the ponies were being treated. They were all very obviously in pain and some were unable to move at all,” he said.

Mrs O’Rourke was given a 12 week prison sentence suspended for 12 months, a 6 month supervision order with probation, banned for 10 years from keeping equines and given a Deprivation Order as well as ordered to pay £500 costs. Her daughter Sarah O’Rourke had the suspended sentence she was already serving for an unrelated conviction extended by 6 months, was given 200 hours of unpaid community service which must be served within 12 months, ordered to pay £500 costs and she received a 2 year disqualification from keeping equines as well as a Deprivation Order.

Mr Kenneally was given 120 hours of unpaid community service which must be served within 12 months, ordered to pay £300 costs, was handed a 2 year disqualification from keeping any animal and a Deprivation Order. The Deprivation Orders mean that ownership of all of the ponies involved in the case was legally given to World Horse Welfare.

Thankfully Pamela, Carly, Lucy and Prancer are all making good progress at Hall Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre.  RSPCA inspector Caroline O’Riordan said “It is important that anyone taking on the care of any horse make sure they have the resources and means to take care of them properly and make sure their needs are being met. They can, at times, need expensive veterinary care, as well as a suitable environment and a proper diet.”

Jacko, who attended the case as a witness, commented: “Watching and listening to Mrs O’Rourke there was absolutely no remorse, which is something the judge commented on and is the most disappointing outcome.”

FEB15 News Peterborough case

Posted on February 4th, 2015

Revised statement – European Riding Helmet Standard Withdrawn

It has been announced by the EU Commission that the European Equestrian Riding Helmet standard (BS)EN1384 is to be withdrawn from the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) at its next publication.  This means that hat manufacturers will no longer be able to CE mark their hats using this standard and will need to recertify to a specification currently being developed. 

The withdrawal of the standard has no effect on riding hats already on the market.  Once a hat has been manufactured to a standard it will not become “non-standard” after withdrawal and can continue to be sold and worn.  If riders have hats certified to the EN1384 they can continue to use them unless stated otherwise by rules of competition.

The existing EN1384 standard is currently in the process of revision. The withdrawal is due in part to the European working group responsible for the hat standard failing to reach an agreement on this overdue revision and subsequently causing the Commission to take this drastic step.

The draft proposal for the revision to EN1384 has to go through the laborious procedure of comment and review and it is still unclear when the final version will be published. An interim specification is being developed by a group of EU test houses and notified bodies (VG1) that will span the gap with a new specification and this is now available.

In the future, CE marked riding hats will have to be successfully tested and certified against an alternative specification to allow CE certification to continue. Companies can choose which they use and could include the new VG1 specification, the revised EN1384 once published, PAS015 or Snell.

The EN1384 and thus the BSEN1384 specifications have proved to be a popular standard throughout Europe with a wide appeal and have saved many riders from head injury, or death.

Whilst initially being promised a period of transition by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the industry has now received news that this option has been retracted.  This means that manufacturers will need to re-certify their (BS)EN1384 hats to the revised specification sooner than anticipated.

As a result of these recent changes, the disciplines and riding bodies within the UK will be reconsidering their hat rules for the future.  Full details of the changes currently available are listed below.

Please note that where EN1384 is referred to this will impact upon hats that only meet that standard. Where hats are dual badged (ie. (BS) EN1384 with another standard such as Snell or PAS 015) then the hat will continue to be legal in competition.

British Eventing – British Eventing will permit (BS)EN1384 hats in 2015 but not thereafter. All hats will be retagged in 2016 at which stage no hats made solely to (BS)EN1384 will be tagged or permitted for use.

Riding Clubs – British Riding Clubs will permit (BS)EN1384 hats in 2015 but not thereafter. All hats will be retagged in 2016 at which stage no hats made solely to (BS)EN1384 will be tagged or permitted for use.

Pony Club – will permit (BS)EN1384 hats in 2015 but not thereafter. Full details of the revised Hat Tagging procedure will be communicated out to the Membership and Volunteers shortly.

British Dressage – will permit (BS)EN1384 hats in 2015 but not thereafter

British Showjumping – will permit (BS)EN1384 hats in 2015 but not thereafter

British Horse Society –  will permit (BS)EN1384 hats in 2015 but not thereafter. From 1.1.2016 hats made solely to (BS)EN1384 will not be permitted for use in BHS Approved Centres.


Posted on February 4th, 2015

Baileys JAS hots up at Houghton

Strong entries provided a great day of competition at Houghton Hall. Clear rounds were the norm across the classes with three riders posting style scores of just 8.0.

Eighteen-year-old Alida Tysterman, from Cambridgeshire, claimed the Novice section riding Innocent Flight, who has previously competed up to two star level with Emma Carmichael. The pair jumped a marginally faster round than Natalie Pettitt on Riffelalp; both girls posting that impressive low style score. It was a particularly good day for Alida who also took the runner up spot in the BE90 JAS class riding Sannan Valley Sequence.

Daniella Johnston, 15 and from Lincolnshire, took third place in the Novice with Ballysheil Mr Monaghan on a style score of 10.1, but they put that first round to good use by trouncing the opposition in the Open section. Adding two time penalties to a style score of 8.0 they finished seven points ahead of Jane Buchan and Carleton, with Jack Cooke on the Tanya Kyle produced Tarbert Eiffel in third; all the more impressive in that this is Daniella’s first season partnering her 14.2hh eight-year-old, plus she had already bagged the BE90, this time riding Ardwhoihane Hero.

A mere 0.2 of a penalty separated the top three in the BE100 section. Essex 14-year-old Emily Uden and Campion Capella, who won their closing BE horse trials of 2015 at Pulborough, had the advantage, completing on their style score of 10.

Jo Thorogood was compensated by claiming both second and third spots with My Newtown Clover and A Lover Fee respectively, while in the BE90, won by ‘the girl to beat’ Daniella Johnston and with Alida Tysterman in the runner up spot, Ines Harper took the remaining podium place riding Some Might Say.


Posted on February 3rd, 2015

Free Veterinary Seminars for Horse Owners

The UK’s largest horse sanctuary is offering owners a fantastic new opportunity to gain up-to-date advice on topical healthcare issues through their education programme.

With its on-site equine hospital, team of veterinary surgeons and nurses, and own training and rehabilitation centre, Redwings is in a unique position to offer owners an opportunity to glean some of the lessons learned over its 30-year history.

Throughout 2015, the charity will provide a series of seven evening seminars free of charge to horse owners across East Anglia. The seminars will be hosted on the last Wednesday of the month at a Redwings venue in the region or similar location.

To kick off proceedings Redwings’ Aylsham visitor centre, located ten miles north of Norwich, will host a seminar entitled ‘Tummy and Toothache: An exploration of colic and equine dentistry’, where attendees will have the opportunity to hear from Head of Veterinary and Care Nicky Jarvis and Redwings’ Welfare Veterinary Surgeon Nicola Berryman.

Nicky, who was recently voted Your Horse readers’ Ultimate Horse Expert, will be presenting on ‘The Horse and Colic’, covering some of the science behind the digestive system and those all-important signs, symptoms and considerations for owners on this, the most common medical emergency in the horse. Indeed, while the majority of cases resolve themselves, colic is still the condition that is responsible for more equine deaths than any other disease.

Nicola will then discuss toothache and modern dental practices, demonstrating that dental health is more than simply rasping pointy teeth. As always with the welfare team at Redwings, owners will also benefit from valuable insights into horse behaviour and, in particular at this session, pain as a source of conflict behaviour.

Future seminars in the series will include ‘Worming Wisdom’, parasite protection for your horse; ‘Lightening the Load’, a guide to weight management; and care for golden oldies. As well as providing attendees with valuable and practical take-home advice, Redwings’ seminars will allow owners to see the facilities at the charity’s Norfolk headquarters, gain a deeper insight into their work and to share experiences among fellow horse owners.

Redwings is the UK’s largest horse sanctuary with over 1,500 equines in its care and a further 500 horses and ponies rehomed under its Guardianship Scheme. For over 30 years, the charity has worked with abandoned, neglected and abused horses requiring its team to develop new skills and call on their expert knowledge in order to ensure each and every horse is given the same level of care and attention. “From disease prevention through to all manner of veterinary issues and dealing with unhandled ponies, there is very little that the Redwings team have not seen before,” commented Education Officer Andie Vilela. “So, if you’re a horse owner wanting to learn new skills and gain valuable advice, you’re in for a real treat!”

To book your place on Redwings’ first veterinary seminar on Wednesday 25th February or for more information about the series, contact Education Officer Andie Vilela by calling 01508 481066 or emailing

FEB15 News Redwings Vet Seminars

Posted on February 3rd, 2015

Equifest 2015 – Your Qualification Starts Here!

As the most anticipated equestrian event of the year fast approaches, make sure you pencil Equifest into your diary!

Held at East of England Showground, Peterborough, August 12th to 16th, the event is not to be missed and promises to be an action packed five days.

An exciting new development has now been confirmed for this year’s event with Equifest teaming up with Ponies (UK) to provide joint qualification.

Explains Betsy Bryan of Equifest: “We are delighted to announce that this season all qualifications for Equifest will also qualify the combination for the Ponies (UK) Winter Classic – March 28th and 29th and the Ponies (UK) Supreme Championships on July 24th to 26th.

“The idea of the dual qualification is that Equifest competitors can now qualify for three shows with one qualification – Equifest, Ponies (UK) Winter Classic and the Ponies (UK) Supreme Championships. Both of the Ponies (UK) Championships are held at Bury Farm Equestrian Centre in Buckinghamshire.

“This means that competitors only have to qualify once, for all three shows and provides them with a great opportunity to compete nationally at these three brilliant shows.”

In order to qualify for the three championships, competitors need to get either their Equifest Qualification Card or their Ponies(UK) Qualification Card signed and send a copy of the card in with their entries for the championships.

Equifest hope the new qualification will bring a new competitor base to all the shows, encouraging more riders to attend and give Equifest competitors added value to their one qualification.

In any instance where there is a slight incompatibility of wording, P(UK) rules will take precedence – so competitors need to check the wording in the P(UK) Rule Book –

For further information contact Equifest on (01733) 363500 or visit

FEB15 News Equifest Supreme champion

Posted on February 3rd, 2015

Deadline for nominations for the Petplan and ADCH Charity Awards 13th February

There are less than two weeks to go before nominations close for the Petplan and ADCH Animal Charity Awards. With animal welfare at its heart UK’s leading specialist insurer Petplan works with over 1,000 animal charities throughout the UK and its equine specialist sister brand, Petplan Equine is putting out a final call to the equine community to nominate their favourite charity for the 2015 Petplan and ADCH Animal Charity Awards.  Nominations close for the 2015 Animal Charity Awards on 13th February 2015.

Last year equine charity employee Jenna Martyn was rewarded for her tireless work and inspirational leadership at Blue Cross’ rehoming centre in Burford by winning the Charity Employee of the Year Award. See the February edition of Absolute Horse for the interview with Jenna.

With fly-grazing on the increase, Equine charities are facing even greater pressure than ever as they strive to cope with the escalating numbers of horses that need to be rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed. In the racing industry, charities work tirelessly in retraining and rehoming retired racehorses, to give them a second chance. So whether your preferred charity is one that retrains, rehomes or simply provides sanctuary for horses, The Petplan ADCH Animal Charity Awards give you the perfect opportunity to recognise and reward these efforts so if you know someone who is deserving of such recognition like Jenna Martin nominate them for one of the following awards before 13th February by visiting

FEB15 News Petplan

Posted on February 2nd, 2015

Hertfordshire’s Showjumper Ben Maher and Diva II make their presence known in Wellington

Hertfordshire’s Ben Maher and the British Bred 10 year-old chestnut mare Diva II, owned by Tatiana Korsakova, made their mark in Wellington, Florida Sunday 1st February when they took 2nd place in the Rolex FEI World Cup Qualifier.

Week 4 of the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival saw many of the world’s top riders come forward to contest the events first CSI 5* Grand Prix.   Taking place under floodlights, the impressive arena looked magnificent and with almost 5,000 supporters surrounding it, the atmosphere was electric.

Course designer Guilherme Jorge had built a strong technical course for the forty five strong field which saw only ten of them jump clear in the first round.  One of the ten came in the form of Ben, who as the sole Brit through to the jump off, was joined by other top riders including Eric Lamaze, Kent Farrington and Marie Hecart to name just a few.

Jumping another foot perfect clear, Ben stopped the clock in a time of 40.56 seconds.  Mid field saw Marie Hecart for France with Myself de Breve put in the only other double clear of the competition.  Managing to finish almost two seconds faster in a time of 38.61 seconds, she claimed the title as her own relegating Ben into 2nd position.

The jump off was most certainly an exciting one, with riders giving it their all in terms of trying to catch Marie and Ben on the clock.  Taking turns which left nothing to spare and opening up their horses whenever they could, the risks taken were just too great for some as both Eric Lamaze and Kent Farrington incurred 4 faults each despite proving that the leaders times could be beaten.

It was Eric Lamaze for Canada with fine Lady 5 who take 3rd place with their time of 36.54 seconds and Kent Farrington with Willow for the USA  who stopped the clock at 37.79 seconds.

Posted on February 2nd, 2015

Essex’s Showjumper Laura Renwick shines in Spain

Laura Renwick (40) from Maldon, Essex partnering Rembrandt Blue a 10 year-old grey gelding owned by David Rogers  were victorious in the 1.45m Master Tour Grand held  Sunday 31st January as part of the CSI 2* Mijas show.  

Thirty-eight starting combinations came forward trying to get their share of the €30,000 prize pot available. With seven riders making it through to the jump off, Laura and Rembrandt Blue a took the lion share after jumping double clear in a time of 34.22 seconds just over half a second quicker than Germany’s Andreas Brenner on Cronos 17 and third place went to Italy’s Luca Maria Moneta on Jesus De La Commune.