The FEI has issued guidelines to the equestrian community to protect horses from and prevent transmission of equine influenza following confirmed outbreaks of the virus in Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Nigeria, United Kingdom, and the United States of America since the beginning of the year.
Equine influenza is a highly contagious virus which causes respiratory disease in horses. The virus is endemic to most countries in the world and outbreaks can have a severe impact on the equine industry, potentially resulting in restrictions on horse movement and cancelled events.
“Vaccinating horses against equine influenza is key to combating the spread of equine influenza,” FEI Veterinary Director Göran Åkerström said. “It is important that all horses are vaccinated, regardless of whether or not they compete or come into contact with other horses, but there are also biosecurity measures that should be put in place, including best hygiene practices.”
All FEI horses must have an up-to-date vaccination history in their passports and checks are carried out on entry to all FEI events.
The airborne virus can spread up to two kilometers, depending on the environmental conditions, and can be easily transmitted between horses that are in close contact, such as attending events, group training and hunting, or between vaccinated and unvaccinated horses in the home yard.
Any horse that displays any signs of illness should not leave their home yard. This also applies to any horse that has been in contact with a horse or horses that have equine influenza.
“This year we are seeing a return of the Clade 1 virus in infected horses. Vaccinated horses have suffered only mild clinical signs of the disease and recovered quickly, but unvaccinated horses have been much more severely affected," FEI Veterinary Advisor Caterina Termine said. “The key message is, get your horse vaccinated, monitor horse health extremely closely, and call your veterinarian if you have any concerns.”
The FEI is the world governing body for horse sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and was founded in 1921. Equestrian sport has been part of the Olympic movement since the 1912 Games in Stockholm.
The FEI is the sole controlling authority for all international events in the Olympic sports of jumping, dressage, and eventing, as well as driving, endurance, vaulting, and reining.
The FEI became one of the first international sports governing bodies to govern and regulate global para sport alongside its seven able-bodied disciplines when para dressage joined its ranks in 2006. The FEI now governs all international competitions for para dressage and para driving.
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.