With equine flu keeping our industry on its toes it’s down to every single horse owner in Scotland to practice extra careful biosecurity at this time and there is certainly plenty information on the subject available.

The four tenets of; hygiene, isolation, vaccination and monitoring all come into play and it is so important to know what is normal for your horse or pony in its behaviour and vital signs and be extra vigilant during daily checks.

Keep everything clean and tidy and use disinfectant when you can – check vaccine status and where necessary get your flu vacs updated.

Isolate new equines – a very good equine flu fact sheet can be downloaded from the Animal Health Trust where they have identified the flu virus hitting Scotland as being part of the Florida clade 1 strain.

It seems the outbreak mostly stems from imported horses from Europe and Ireland so we must know the health status of any new horses or ponies in our yards and stick religiously to the 21 day isolation procedure that is recommended.

The BEF is urging all competition and training event organisers to check the equine ID passports of all horses attending their event to ensure that they comply with the vaccination rules.

Now, these are quite complicated namely; “Ensure that the horse (or pony) has received two injections for primary vaccination against equine influenza given no less than 21 days and no more than 92 days apart.

Only these two injections need to have been given before a horse/pony can attend. In addition, if sufficient time has elapsed a first booster injection must be given no less than 150 days and no more than 215 days after the second injection of the primary vaccination.

Subsequently, booster injections must be given at intervals of not more than one year apart.”

There is a free app called EquiBioSafe that can help with these complex calculations. In some cases (outbreak localities) veterinary advice might make the case for six monthly vaccinations for some events.

The good that might come of this is that the industry wakes up to the measures we all need to take in peace time as well as these times of war against disease to keep our horses safe.

In the BHS we have some very pertinent educational events coming up that will help us defend good health and welfare in our Scottish equine charges.

These include; a parliamentary briefing on equine road safety centering on the Dead Slow campaign, a Strangles seminal (Invitation only but promising to be influential) at the Royal Dick Vet and of course our amazing BHS International Convention at Morris EC in early April.

And scattered among these big national opportunities is a plethora of local equivalents.

Elsewhere we have been peddling the exciting new Challenge Awards for recreational riders to our accredited professional coaches and at approved centres and they are being well received as a new tool in the box of our excellence pathway.

Essentially the individual chooses their own route through the awards on a “pick and mix” basis in a flexible way and at their own pace. There are 26 awards to choose from all about horses and riders.

These include horse physiology, care, handling and lungeing and rider fitness and safety both on the flat and jumping.

To get involved you need to be a silver or gold member and in touch with an accredited professional coach or BHS approved centre or contact the Equine Excellence team on 02476 840508.

The strap line for the challenge awards is “for the challenge… for the love” and we like that at BHS Scotland because being immersed in the horse world and enjoying the company and glory of our equine friends is so life enhancing whatever your age or stage of life.

You challenge yourself by being horsey but the returns are amazing.