More than a third of the UK’s horses (38%) have been recorded as suffering from health problems in figures from the eighth National Equine Health Survey (NEHS).

Gemma Taylor
Blue Cross carries out the National Equine Health Survey in May each year.

Of these, 32.9% were recorded as lame – consistent with previous surveys, this was more likely to be caused by conditions such as OA in the limb rather than problems in the foot.

More participation

This year saw a near 14% increase in participation compared to 2015, with survey records returned for 16,751 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules and 5,635 people taking part.

Most horses were kept in livery yards or a private yard and used for leisure and hacking.

Blue Cross carries out the NEHS in May each year, in partnership with the BEVA. It is sponsored by Dodson and Horrell, and Zoetis, and supported by the UK’s leading equestrian organisations and charities.


Key findings were:

  • 62% of horses were healthy (that is, had no health problems recorded) and 38% had one or more health problems recorded.
  • The most frequent disease syndrome recorded was lameness, accounting for one third of all problems reported.
  • The top five disease syndromes recorded were lameness, laminitis, sweet itch, mud fever and pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction.
  • Degenerative joint disease was the most frequently reported single cause of lameness (41.2% of all lameness and 13.5% of all syndromes recorded).
  • Diseases of the foot, excluding laminitis, accounted for 31.9% of all lameness (10.5% of all syndromes reported) with white line disease the most common single cause of foot lameness reported (10.4% of all lameness and 3.4% of all syndromes).

The NEHS is available to download and registration is open for next year’s survey.

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