A massive team of veterinarians has been recruited for the upcoming FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games, with a total of 14 managing the endurance discipline alone.
There will 12 official FEI vets dealing with the other seven disciplines, and there will also be about 65 general vets whose jobs start with checking the horses on arrival.
Scans and x-rays will be carried out by 12 specialist vets from the CIRALE (Centre for Imaging and Research into Locomotive Problems in Equines), one of the three sites of the Alfort national veterinary school, located in Goustranville, Calvados. During the two weeks of competition, Professor Jean-Marie Denoix will close the CIRALE in order to make his team available for the Games.
The entire team will be reinforced for two key events, as 15 additional vets will be called upon for the cross-country phase of the eventing (on Saturday, August 30 at Le Pin National Stud), and 11 vets will be on duty during the marathon phase of the driving on September 6 at Caen’s La Prairie Racecourse.
In addition to the team, six vets from the LABEO Frank Duncombe laboratory will carry out more detailed analyses (haematology or biochemistry, for example) using specialised equipment. These vets will be available during the day and some 70 trained students will be on duty during the night, in order to use the equipment 24 hours per day.
Veterinary Coordinator for the Games is Anne Couroucé-Malblanc, senior lecturer at Oniris (CISCO), the national veterinary school in Nantes, specialising in horse-related internal medicine.
“We will do everything we can to treat the majority of problems on site, without going to an exterior clinic,” she said.
“Nevertheless, if necessary, we will have the assistance of three large exterior clinics: one for fractures in Deauville (the only clinic in France to have a scanner), one clinic specialising in colic-related emergencies in Falaise, and a third clinic for medical problems in Saint-Michel du Livet.
“Two other clinics will be used as local clinics for Sartilly (Panorama clinic in Dronthon, during the endurance competition), and Le Pin National Stud (Ecouché clinic, on cross-country day),” she said.
Much work has gone into setting up the temporary clinics on each competition site, managing medicine orders, and ensuring communications with the State and RESPE networks (France’s Epidemic surveillance Network for Equine Diseases) are in order with regard to infectious diseases.
“During the event, we must deal with any emergencies, of course, but above all we must do everything we can to ensure the wellbeing of the 1000 horses that are competing and the 350 horses used for entertainment purposes: welcome them, care for them, and ensure that they are in good health so that they can perform top-level sport in the best possible conditions. They are true athletes and they should be treated as such!” she said.
Other tools the vet teams will use during the Games is a set of scales, and each horse will be weighed on arrival. There are also hay sterilisers to remove the dust from the hay, and even organic natural mosquito traps.