Introduction

The online Codes of Practice sets out voluntary recommendations to help breeders, in conjunction with their veterinary surgeons, to prevent and control specific diseases in all breeds of horse and pony. It comprises 6 Codes of Practice:

It also contains guidelines on Streptococcus equi (strangles) and on artificial insemination (AI).

The recommendations within the Codes of Practice are common to France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Any of the above diseases can have devastating consequences. They compromise horse and pony welfare, disrupt breeding activity, cause economic loss to mare and stallion owners and are costly to deal with.

The diseases are highly contagious. Uncontrolled infection in just one horse or pony can transmit easily to others, potentially escalating to local and national outbreaks. Because EVA and EHV spread via the respiratory route, non-breeding stock can become infected, leading to adverse cost and welfare consequences for owners and horses and, potentially, disruption of equestrian activities locally and nationally. CEM, EVA, EIA and Dourine are notifiable by law and, ultimately, outbreaks on any scale can lead to Britain losing its horse export status.

To avoid these consequences, breeders should aim to prevent disease, and control its spread if a case is suspected or occurs, by implementing the recommendations in these Codes of Practice.

If a case occurs, it is important to inform owners of other horses that are at risk of infection through contact with the affected horse/premises so that they can treat their horse and implement measures to stop any further spread of disease to other horses.

The Codes of Practice set out minimum recommendations for disease prevention and control. Breeders should implement additional precautions whenever appropriate to their circumstances. Mare owners are strongly advised to check whether the stallion stud and/or boarding stud to which their mare is to be sent, or any local breeders’ association for that area such as the Newmarket Stud Farmers Association (NSFA), has any requirements additional to those included in these Codes.

 Throughout the Codes, the term:

  • 'Horse’ includes mares and stallions of any breed of horse or pony.
  • ‘Stallion’ includes stallions of any breed to be used for natural mating, teasing or semen collection for AI.
  • ‘Breeding activity’ includes natural mating, teasing, collection, processing and insemination of semen; preparation and handling of mares for mating or insemination.

The introduction of these Codes of Practice has resulted in a significant decrease in the incidence of infectious disease outbreaks. It is vital that owners/managers of breeding stock maintain vigilance and follow the Codes, in conjunction with the attending veterinary surgeon, at all times.