I was looking forward to May. Katrina and I had an amazing time at BYRDS camp, I realised that I was going to have to work extra hard because there were so many talented horses and riders there and I was ready to really get going with loads of exciting things. We had our Area Festivals planned, a dressage to music clinic, team selection was due and I was excited to be doing more jumping ready for BS club in the summer.
Katrina had a few days off to recover from working so hard at camp, and we were ready to move to a new yard when the bad news struck. A horse on our yard had tested positive for strangles that day and we were on immediate lockdown. I was really worried because not only was it on the yard, our little barn of 4 where Katrina lives was the barn as the poorly horse lives too!
Strangles is a very contagious upper respiratory tract infection caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus equi and can become serious in some horses. It normally has symptoms like a high temperature, really runny nose and swollen glands in the neck, but not always. The horse in our barn was just a little bit off so no one knew until the results came back.
Our livery yard owner was brilliant, as soon as she knew the results we were all put on lockdown, and had to have biosecurity precautions put in place as it can be spread through a person’s hands or clothes or even yard tools. No interaction with other horses was allowed. The affected horse was isolated, and all visiting farriers, instructors, physios were informed/cancelled and all the yards nearby were told on Facebook so they all knew to take care. Shows, clinics, all hacking and days out were cancelled by everyone. The yard owner told us all what to look for and made sure we knew to check temperatures and that they were eating normally.
Then we had to wait. Day after day of worrying if your horse was going to get ill. The yard became a quiet place, even though we have over 70 horses it felt empty and sad. People didn’t stop to socialise so much, every one of us praying that we’d come through the other side with no more cases. Lucky, Katrina’s neighbour scared us when we found a huge wad of yellow gunk in his feed bowl one day and we laughed with relief when we realised it was just his tummy medication, even though it wasn’t all that funny, we were so tense and scared.
Eventually the original horse tested clear, then as we were in the same barn and still wanted to move yards we got Katrina tested. A few days later we were so relieved when the results came back negative! So we missed May, we missed the area festivals, we missed the team selection and the music clinic. Katrina just had the month off in the end, but most importantly no one else caught the strangles because we all acted quickly and responsibly.