Arwain DGC 1-2-1 Equine Health Clinics: Free equine health clinics help reduce need for antibiotics

(Published April 2024)

Horse owners in Wales can once again access a series of free Equine Health Clinics as part of an award-winning programme that promotes the responsible use of antibiotics.

The Arwain DGC (Defnydd Gwrthficrobaidd Cyfrifol / Responsible Antimicrobial Use) programme helps vets, farmers and horse owners address the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by reducing the need to use antibiotics.

Responsible use of antibiotics is an integral part of both animal and human medicine to ensure the longevity of those antibiotics currently available.

As part of its work, Arwain DGC devised the hugely popular 1-2-1 Equine Health Clinics – with the second tranche of clinics now available.

The clinics focus on enhancing the horses’ health, and they do not have to be ill or wounded to qualify for an Equine Health Clinic.  During the first phase of the project, over 200 horses were seen in clinics across Wales.

Support of up to £200 is available for tailored advice on biosecurity and individualised health planning, and bacterial culture and sensitivity testing can also be funded if advised by a local vet following a clinical assessment.

Funding is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a maximum of one clinic per equine owner, but the clinic can cover the advice and screening of more than one horse owned by that owner.

Gwynedd veterinary practice Milfeddygon Dolgellau Cyf has run several equine clinics and found the Arwain DGC programme beneficial for its clients and staff.

Practice Manager Ania Wyn Parry feels that delivering the equine clinics has not only improved horse health but also strengthened the client-veterinary surgeon relationship.

Ania, a horse owner herself, said, “We have had a fantastic response from clients to the clinics, who have been grateful for the opportunity to discuss their horse’s health and carry out tests.

“The financial support available has enabled many of them to have checks on their horses that might not otherwise have been possible. Life is expensive, and having a horse doubles or triples that, so if you don’t have to do investigations, owners often don’t.”

One Milfeddygon Dolgellau Cyf client said, “I would 100% recommend horse owners take the opportunity to have an equine clinic. I found it a very positive experience and really appreciated being able to talk to the vet and discuss my horse’s health which gave me a better understanding.”

Prevention is better than cure, and Ania says the clinics have provided the opportunity to expand owners’ knowledge of horse health, promote recognition of early symptoms, and reduce the need to use antibiotics.

She said, “For example, Laminitis and Cushing’s Disease often go hand in hand, so by testing for Cushing’s, management can be put in place early.

“Also, many people purchase their horses at sales, and so they don’t always know the horse’s health history. Therefore, a common test we advise them to have is for Strangles – this will give them more information and can help reduce antibiotics use; so to have funding to do more testing is a real help.”

Milfeddygon Dolgellau Cyf has also been making its clients aware of the equine clinics through its social media platforms, and Ania has been spreading the word as a local riding instructor. An information evening for clients is also planned for the near future.

Ania said, “We’ve had a brilliant service from Arwain DGC too, which – from a practice perspective – has made carrying out the programme very easy.”

Katy Hurley, Arwain DGC’s marketing officer said, “The clinics provide an invaluable opportunity for vets to discuss AMR with their clients and help shift the mindset away from immediately jumping onto antibiotics. 

We have tried to make the process as easy as possible for both vets, admin staff and horse owners and are pleased to hear such positive feedback from Ania and the team at Dolgellau. 

If any vets or practice staff would like to discuss the clinics further do feel free to get in touch.”