You can help researchers with sudies into Grass Sickness and Laminitis

Get Involved!

Grass sickness has many symptoms in common with colic in the horse, but while many colics resolve, grass sickness has a very high mortality rate even with treatment, and it affects all types and ages of horses. The exact cause of the disease is currently unknown, although a type of toxin produced by a bacteria known as Clostridia botulinum is currently the best suspect, which lives in all types of soil. It is usually horses out at grass that become ill with grass sickness, and the greatest proportion of cases are between the ages of 2 and 7. Other risk factors include moving a horse onto a pasture previously affected by grass sickness, disturbances to the soil, and large numbers of birds present on the pasture, and stress in the affected horse or pony. It used to be thought that draft-type horses and ponies were more affected, but this has been proven not to be the case, and no links to vitamin or mineral deficiencies have yet been found. The best method of reducing grass sickness will be to vaccinate for it in the future.
The Animal Health Trust, the Equine Grass Sickness Fund, and the British Horse Society are all currently raising funds to support an on-going trial of a potential vaccine for grass sickness via the Moredun Institute at the University of Edinburgh. A pilot vaccine trial concluded earlier that the vaccine that has been developed is safe to give to horses, and provokes a reasonable immune response from vaccinated horses, so the next step is using the vaccine in a wide range of horses to confirm these results. The current trial began in 2014 and is ongoing, but more participants are required, to help ensure the best, most accurate results can be obtained, to bring a vaccine to market quickly. If you own a horse that lives on a pasture or on a farm that has previously been affected by grass sickness and would like to start your horse on the vaccine, please phone the practice to discuss what is involved with one of our vet surgeons or contact the Equine Grass Sickness Fund. You can find more details about Grass Sickness on their website: 

Help find answers about laminitis – healthy horses please apply!


Laminitis is most common in overweight ponies and cobs, but can strike any horse at any time, and is particularly common after an episode of colic. For this reason, researchers working with the Animal Health Trust, the Royal Vet College, World Horse  Welfare, and Rossdales in Newmarket are looking for all kinds of horses and ponies, healthy or unhealthy, to sign up for their program which helps monitor weight and report any episodes of laminitis to them. There is a basic health questionnaire to answer, and then a monthly weight check (with a weigh tape) and all the reporting is done electronically – very simple and gives you a graph of any changes in your horse’s weight over time. If you are interested in helping out with this vital research, please contact us at the practice or go to to sign up. All the results are kept confidential, and your help to this valuable research will be greatly appreciated! The researchers are hoping for 3,000 participants but only have about 700 currently, and very few in Scotland – so here’s a chance to get our part of the country represented properly!