Equestrian Needs Ltd


What is it?

Grass sickness is a disease of horses, ponies and donkeys: it affects the nervous system causing paralysis of the entire digestive system. It can happen to any horse, anywhere at any age.

When does it occur?

It mainly happens in grazing horses aged two to seven years old during spring and summer with a peak incidence in May (but there are cases all year around). It effects 1 in 100 horses in certain areas of the UK and it is estimated that 90% do not survive. Great Britain has the highest incidence of grass sickness in the world, 60.9% of cases occurred in England.

What are the symptoms?

There are three forms, acute grass sickness, sub-acute and chronic. Chronic grass sickness is the mildest form and horses with intensive nursing can recover and go on to lead a full working life.

Horse owners need to be vigilant at peak times looking out for any changes in eatin/drinking habits or behaviour that is out of the ordinary. Below you will find information on how to recognise the symptoms and the simple measures you can take to try and minimise the risks of grass sickness.

The Future

A vaccine pilot study has been announced by the Grass Sickness Fund (EGSF) and Animal Health Trust. The pilot study is in preparation for a full vaccine trial which is likely to start in 2014. The EGSF is spearheading the campaign to raise funds for the full trial. They are the only charity registered in the UK raising funds specifically for resource into grass sickness and further improving the treatment of chronic cases.

The British Horse Society is backing the national campaign to raise funds for the full vaccine trial. For more information


If you have experienced grass sickness

The incidence is grossly under reported and currently there is a surveillance scheme for vets and horse owners where all information is completely confidential. Click here to report grass sickness

You can also share your experiences and find support from other sufferers in this dedicated Facebook Group.

Equine Grass Sickness Awareness

For more information on grass sickness

For all information on grass sickness the following is the best website. www.grasssickness.org.uk

Last Updated: March 2014

Read Ulla & William's story......

Ulla Balletta’s horse William (pictured below in happier times) was hit by grass sickness in April 2011. He had been healthy and happy, but in the space of just 24 hours Ulla lost her best friend. Here, Ulla describes the 17-year-old Irish Draught x gelding’s sudden deterioration, and how some strange symptoms that she thought were colic turned out to be the devastating disease. Click to read more....Page 1, Page 2