An outbreak of equine herpes virus (EHV) has forced an international dressage competition to be cancelled.

Saumur CDI was due to be held from 3 to 6 May, with classes from ponies to three-star, but the show has been cancelled on advice from the French institute of horses and riding (IFCE), the FEI and the French equestrian federation (FFE).

Several Brits were entered for Saumur, including Alexandra Hellings, Maddy Wheland and Bronte Watson.

There are two main strains of the contagious and potentially fatal viral infection — EHV-1, which causes neurological disease and abortions, and EHV-4, which causes respiratory disease.

“The Epidemiological Surveillance Network in Equine Pathology (RESPE) reports several cases in France of viruses EHV-1 and EHV-4,” said a statement from the IFCE.

“Given the number of outbreaks identified, a call for vigilance has been published.

“As a precaution and taking into account the risk of transmission of the virus, IFCE has taken the decision, in agreement with the FFE and the FEI, to cancel the international training competition of Saumur.”

The RESPE crisis team met on 27 April to consult on how to stop the spread of the disease.

“To date, 22 households are confirmed and affect mainly sport horses,” said a statement from the RESPE.

“The main sources of contamination are equine gatherings and the introduction of horses into a workforce without any particular precautions.

“The RESPE strongly advises congregational sites that have recently hosted horses suspected of [EHV] to suspend the participation of equidae housed on the site in competitions and the organisation of events on their premises.

“The crisis staff also encourage horse owners who have participated in contests in high-risk geographical areas, [to carry out] increased surveillance of their animals and not to go to the competition grounds in case of suspicion or confirmation of the disease.”

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Organisers of Compiègne CDI (17-20 May) have confirmed their show is going ahead as normal.

“At the moment, no cases have been observed in the department of Oise,” said a statement from show president Monique Marini.
“Compiègne competition’s site does not have horses permanently resident in its stables.

“Our team, in collaboration with the veterinary services, will take all the necessary precautions for the good running of the competition.

“The health of our animals is our main concern.

“We look forward to welcoming you all for this new edition of the ‘Internationaux de Dressage’ of Compiègne.”

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