Riding school beats horse disease blow

A RIDING school owner who feared for his business after three of his horses became ill has thanked members of the community for their support. Charlie Bateman has owned Meldreth Manor Equestrian Centre, with his wife Tracey, since April 2006. The centre,

A RIDING school owner who feared for his business after three of his horses became ill has thanked members of the community for their support.

Charlie Bateman has owned Meldreth Manor Equestrian Centre, with his wife Tracey, since April 2006.

The centre, which has a total of 38 horses and ponies, teaches both adults and children to ride, and also provides special riding lessons for disabled people.

But last month, Mr Bateman faced the worrying prospect of losing business, after three of his horses developed a highly-contagious bacterial condition called equine strangles.


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The disease, which cannot be passed to humans, affects the respiratory system of horses, donkeys, and ponies, and is characterised by symptoms including loss of appetite, high temperature, and thick nasal discharge.

In extreme cases strangles can be fatal, but the mortality rate from the disease is very low - just one per cent.

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Mr Bateman told The Crow about the moment he found out that some of his horses were sick.

He said: "Tracey spotted one horse that looked a bit sniffy.

"She thought it might be strangles so we took three of the horses home and sought veterinary advice immediately."

Although strangles is highly contagious, it is a common misconception in the horse world that it is an airborne disease.

In reality, the bacterium which causes strangles, known as Streptococcus equi, can only be passed from one horse to another by direct contact.

So, to control an outbreak, affected horses must be kept away from any healthy animals until they have recovered.

As well as removing the sick horses, the Batemans have put in place a quarantine to stop other horses moving in and out of the centre and spreading the disease.

They have also put up signs to advise visitors of the outbreak, banned cars and dogs from the yard, disinfected their stables and provided disinfectant foot baths for people leaving the premises.

And since these measures have been put in place, no further incidences of strangles have been recorded at the centre.

"I think we are out of the woods now," Mr Bateman said.

"In the past, outbreaks have closed businesses down, so I was very concerned.

"We were lucky that we identified it quickly, or we could have lost a lot of business."

When rumours of an outbreak at his stables surfaced, Mr Bateman received a number of calls from worried people, some of which were abusive.

But Mr Bateman said: "I think the misconceptions people have about strangles and how it can spread have caused these problems."

But as well as people calling to complain or abuse him, Mr Bateman has also received a number of messages of support from customers and members of the local community.

"We have had lots of cards wishing us well," he added.

"People do amaze you in times of adversity.

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