An outbreak of strangles at Gatcombe threatened this weekend’s novice and intermediate horse trials, but, after seeking veterinary advice, the event organisers and British Eventing have decided to go ahead as planned.

Patricia Biden Foden, who organises Gatcombe Horse Trials, notified BE of the outbreak last week. However, a strict containment policy has ensured that no infected horse has been to the showgrounds and parking areas used by the event.

The yards of Zara Phillips and Andrew and Bettina Hoy have also been spared and vets have placed no restrictions on the movement of their horses.

On Friday 1 April, treating vet Mark Lucey confirmed that strict rules are in place to prevent the disease spreading and was confident that the horse trials could take place. His views were shared by British Eventing and senior team vet Jennifer Hall, who were consulted by Gatcombe.

The event organisers continued to monitor the situation closely throughout the weekend. They sought advice from a panel of vets and from the Animal Health Trust and, after a long consultation with British Eventing on Monday 4 April, they decided they would go on as planned. “We are running,” confirms Biden.

However, organisers are asking anyone attending the event not to bring their dogs “unless absolutely necessary.” Dogs must be on a leash and those who aren’t will be captured by organisers, who will charge owners a hefty fine. Any money thus collected will be donated to one of the Princess Royal’s charities.

Although “sound scientific principles would indicate that the risk [of horses contracting strangles] is minimal,” Gatcombe are offering competitors the opportunity to withdraw from the event and have their entry fees refunded in full. “Should any competitor choose to withdraw, it would greatly assist my organising team if they would advise the entries secretary as soon as possible,” says Biden.

For more information about the event visit: www.gatcombe-events.co.uk