Vets are being urged to encourage horse owners to take part in what has become one of the UK’s most important online equine endemic disease-monitoring initiatives.

The survey provides a unique opportunity for owners to give feedback about the health of their equines. IMAGE: Jackie Morrison.

Over the past six years, the National Equine Health Survey (NEHS) – run by Blue Cross in partnership with BEVA – has provided a unique opportunity for owners to give feedback about the health of their horses, ponies and donkeys, so the most common diseases and problems can be identified, prioritised and addressed.


Last year, survey records were returned for almost 17,000 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules from across the UK, and the six most notable equine disease syndromes identified as percentages of those recorded as suffering from health problems.

Results for 2016 were as follows:

  • Lameness 32.9% including laminitis (compared to 24.4% in 2015, 21% in 2014, 19.2% in 2013 and 12.9% in 2010-12).
  • Skin diseases (sweet itch, mud fever, rain scald, external parasites, skin tumours and wounds) 25.5% (compared to 17.2% in 2015, 18.3% in 2014, 14.6% in 2013 and 15.2% in 2010-12).
  • Laminitis 6.8% (compared to 6.4% in 2015, 7.1% in 2014, 4.4% in 2013 and 3.6% in 2010-12).
  • Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID; equine Cushing’s disease) 6.6%. This is similar to the high prevalence of PPID reported in 2015 (6.4%) and 2014 (5.6%), and possibly reflects increased surveillance through sponsored testing programmes as opposed to true increases in prevalence from the pre-2014 surveys.
  • Recurrent airway obstruction 5.6% (compared to 6.7% in 2015, 6.9% in 2014, 4.2% in 2013 and 3.6% in 2010-12).
  • Back problems 5.5% (compared to 7% in 2015, 7.7% in 2014, 5% in 2013 and 3% in 2010-12).


The 2017 NEHS survey is planned for 22-29 May.

To register to take part, visit the Blue Cross website or email

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