Using a horse-rug is an added preventative for the oncoming AHS season!

While many of you are looking forward to brisk morning rides and cool dusky walks this summer, there is a more critical reason for avoiding the heat other than an enjoyable ride. With the oncoming summer heat, many will be escaping indoors avoiding the sweltering African sun, but one thing you can’t avoid is the inevitability of what the heat brings – African Horse Sickness (AHS), heat exhaustion and dehydration.

AHS is a highly infectious and deadly disease in which over 90% of cases reported are horses. While the name suggests that the virus is unique to the African continent, outbreaks of AHS have been recorded in the Middle-East, India, Pakistan, and the Iberian Peninsula. The virus is considered endemic to the southern, equatorial and eastern regions of Africa. While AHS is fatal to horses, donkeys, and mules it remains harmless to humans. The AHS virus is spread by insect carriers (vectors) such as “biting midges”, mosquitoes and other biting insects. The appearance of AHS is normally preceded by the heavy rainfall seasons of summer and early autumn which provides a favorable environment for the insect-borne virus. Spotting symptoms of AHS early such as; difficulty breathing, fever, excessive sweating and frothy discharge from the nostrils is critical to treating the virus as well as reducing the risk of exposure to other potential hosts. With dry African summers, horses are even more vulnerable by the increased stress that the heat brings. Over-exertion, hydration, and monitoring of potential heat exhaustion is key to getting your steed through summer.

While vaccines against AHS are available, they aren’t 100% effective and prevention of the virus is minimal. However, veterinarian associations have stressed that only way to mitigate the potential of AHS is reduced exposure to AHS carrying insects – particularly during their most active hours between dawn and dusk. Stabling horses in insect-proof housing and horse-blankets that are made with insect-proofing in-mind is the best way to prevent AHS.

Now that summer is in full swing and the highveld thunderstorms on our horizon, Steed & Style will be releasing their new lineup of horse rugs which includes our fly and bug rugs as well as our summer riding tops this summer! These products will be available shortly in our on line shop.

Also keep an eye out for our new jodhpurs and breeches that will be available next week.