Bonnybridge stables owner receives award for her ‘exceptional courage’

Margaret Paterson, of Dalnair Stables, Bonnybridge, has received a British Horse Society Welfare Award for excellent service
Margaret Paterson, of Dalnair Stables, Bonnybridge, has received a British Horse Society Welfare Award for excellent service

A stables owner has been formally recognised for her “exceptional courage” after she prevented an infection from spreading among her herd.

Airth woman Margaret Paterson received a British Horse Society (BHS) Welfare Award as a result of the decisive action she took when strangles broke out at Dalnair Stables in Bonnybridge.

Margaret, who runs the riding school and livery yard along with her daughter Lauren, was presented with the honour for “excellent service by an individual, volunteer or group in the cause of equine welfare”.

She was also praised by the BHS for the biosecurity measures she has put in place to stop such diseases from spreading among horses and ponies.

Strangles, an infectious, bacterial disease characterised by abscessation of the lymphoid tissue, causes horses, ponies, donkeys and mules to become depressed and go off their food. The infection also poses significant logistical and economical problems in an infected yard.

Fortunately, Margaret’s bravery in tackling the issue head-on meant the situation was soon remedied.

Impressed by her work, the BHS invited Margaret to Saddlers’ Hall in London to collect the award.

She said: “I’m delighted to have received this and I’m grateful to the British Horse Society.

“As anyone who has dealt with strangles will know, the experience is heart-breaking.

“Together with my team at Dalnair Stables, I did all I could do to act responsibly, to prevent the disease from spreading further and to ensure the highest standards of welfare for our horses.

“Avoiding secrecy, rumours and misinformation was so important but doing the right thing was not always easy.

“It was an incredibly difficult time for all of us, which is why it means so much to me to be recognised as having made a contribution to equine welfare.”

Specifying why Margaret was selected, the BHS said: “When one of her ponies was diagnosed with strangles, she showed exceptional diligence and courage in preventing the spread of infection, and in combating the culture of secrecy around strangles.

“A number of horses and ponies in the herd were infected, but it is testament to Margaret’s stringent and effective biosecurity measures that the many other horses in the same yard were not infected.

“Margaret has shown a gold standard example to other yard owners, choosing always to do the right thing in terms of equine welfare, never taking an easier or less expensive approach.”

Dalnair Stables was started in 2008 and offers lessons, flat and jumping, groups, privates and hacking. It also offers fun days, loan a pony and shows for customers.

Search for ‘Dalnair Stables’ on Facebook for more information.