Adam Cromarty: ‘Stay-away shows are a Petri dish’ *H&H Plus*


  • Adam Cromarty reflects on biosecurity measures at shows and the lack of member incentives from British Showjumping in his latest magazine column

    JUST when we’ve seen a glimmer of light at the end of a long Covid tunnel, our industry is now facing another difficult challenge.

    Normally by March I would have undertaken a few transatlantic trips. Instead, even the European shows I should be attending could face a difficult decision, depending on how the outbreak of equine herpes virus (EHV-1) develops.

    I recently hosted a global discussion about the virus with British team vet Mark Sinnott and Emily Sandler-Burtness, a clinician from the USA who was the President of the Veterinary Commission at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon. It was fascinating and hopefully useful to those who watched. You can find it on my social media.

    EHV is endemic and always present. If horses do recover, they have limited natural immunity. In the USA, it’s very common to vaccinate against it. Here, the opposite is true and there are fewer types of vaccine available.

    No vaccine protects against the neurological form, which was detected in Valencia. The situation is serious and my thoughts go out to anyone who has horses in jeopardy.

    It’s unclear how many horses may have been exposed. British athletes who were competing may have been traced, but we can’t know how many horses they, and their caregivers, could have contaminated prior to being alerted. Sale horses regularly come into the UK, and given that this virus has a significant incubation period, it’s just impossible to quantify.

    Whether it will have a knock-on effect to the resumption of national sport comes down to how proactive those who have horses coming into the country are.

    Stay-away shows are an ideal Petri dish for any virus. Athletes and horses from different locations are brought together and contained within a close proximity. At FEI events, temperature records need to be kept but how accurate they are, and the accompanying good practices, come down to each athlete. We need to be vigilant.

    With this in mind, we need to reevaluate our show stable management. Currently, anyone can access the stabling at most national events and there are no records kept. There are no stewards or vet delegates on patrol, nor is there any requirement to have an isolation box.

    I forecast that biosecurity is going to be a topic of conversation for the foreseeable future. In truth, we could all
    do more.

    The elephant in the room

    ANOTHER hot topic right now is lack of a membership incentive from British Showjumping. It’s become the elephant in the room and uncharacteristically I’m on the fence.

    With no competition, I understand why some feel they should be given a proportional refund or membership extension. On the other hand, running a national sport isn’t like a gym that can simply turn the lights off and lock the doors.

    Our national federation could communicate better and there’s a chance some members would be more understanding if they knew how much work was going on to secure the resumption of our sport and to campaign for a more viable post-Brexit travel agreement.

    More transparency and engagement would go a long way.

    When British Showjumping (BS) purchased its training centre in 2019, it was set to be in use (and earning) for the whole of 2020. Covid halted this, and I think that’s why BS is not following other disciplines and making an offer to membership.

    I understand that they haven’t ruled it out, but they are cautiously waiting to see how the pandemic progresses.

    This period in the history of our sport should be used to evolve, with time spent on regrouping and restructuring. We need to be ready to come out of the pandemic stronger and more current than ever. If we don’t start now, I fear we never will.

    Also published in H&H 18 March 2020

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