Horse traceability is key as competition restarts after EHV-1 outbreak *H&H Plus*

  • Riders must comply with a host of requirements to try to prevent another disease outbreak as internationsl sport starts again in Europe. H&H hears from the FEI and top riders on the new protocols

    ENHANCED traceability of horses is a “key element” in minimising the risk of future disease outbreaks, as international sport returns in Europe.

    Following a six-week shutdown across mainland Europe owing to the EHV-1 outbreak, competition restarted on 12 April with mandatory protocols introduced by the FEI, including temperature recording and testing for EHV-1 at shows with more than 400 horses and overnight stabling, and increased biosecurity (news, 8 April).

    Riders must also use the FEI HorseApp to upload horse documents including passport numbers and negative test results, and to check horses in and out of venues. The app will also be used by vets to submit temperatures and record microchip details.

    FEI veterinary director Göran Åkerström said the European outbreak had “underscored the importance” of early detection and action to prevent disease transmission.

    “The HorseApp is a crucial tool to facilitate the traceability of horses attending FEI events, as well as for data-gathering to allow for better risk assessment analysis and informed decision-making,” he said.

    “It is a key element in ensuring a safe return to competition and in minimising the impact of a disease outbreak in the future.”

    FEI director of information and sports technology Gaspard Dufour added that data-driven technologies are a “key part of the solution” to the EHV-1 outbreak.

    “We have been able to use the existing functionalities of the HorseApp to actively monitor horse movement and health status and added new modules that provide for a safer return to competition,” he said. “But importantly, the collection of this quantitative data is critical to tracking the evolution of the disease.”

    Showjumper Matt Sampson, who is competing at Bonheiden, Belgium (15–18 April) told H&H his horses’ negative EHV-1 tests, taken before attending the venue, were uploaded to the HorseApp, and on arrival their temperatures were taken by a vet.

    “The organisers are doing all they can to keep everything as safe as possible with regard to EHV-1 and Covid while still trying to run a show, which are two very difficult things to put together,” he said.

    “The [EHV] tests required for events mean an added expense to an already expensive sport, but we need shows running. If people take precautions and are self-disciplined to the fact if they’re not sure about something they act on it and don’t leave anything to chance,it’s only a good thing to get everything back up and running.”

    Olympic dressage rider Laura Tomlinson is due to compete at the Opglabbeek CDI in Belgium (22–25 April) and told H&H the EHV-1 protocols are the “right thing” for the sport.

    “I think everyone is just doing their best to make sure there’s some accountability and that people are being very diligent about bringing horses or ponies to an event consciously and responsibly,” she said.

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