A group of horses and riders, almost synonymous with the National Western Stock Show Rodeo, is going through a tough time.

About a third of the horses ridden by the Westernaires are suffering from a highly contagious bacterial infection called strangles.

Strangles can spread quickly through direct contact between horses, or by indirect contact like - tack and equipment, shared drinking water or feed, and by physical contact.

The director of the Westernaires program, Glen E. Keller Jr., says more than 50 horses and about 30 ponies that are part of the programs rental horse string have gotten sick and are quarantined.

They will have to be quarantined for several weeks.

Keller says most of the horses should be out of quarantine by early to mid-June.

Horses privately-owned by Westernaires members have not contracted the equine illness.

For now, the Westernaires have had to cut back on appearances and activities while the horses recover.

The Westernaires Alumni Association says the program is losing about $15,000 a week because of that, and veterinary care expenses.

The association setup a GoFundMe page to help cover those costs. Click here, if you'd like to donate.