A fund to help riders and owners pay vet bills arising from an outbreak of the neurological form of equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) in horses centered in Spain has raised €272,413.
The money has helped owners and riders hit by unexpected veterinary costs arising from the outbreak, which was centred on a showjumping competition in Valencia, Spain.
Sick horses were first reported on February 20, with 18 equine fatalities notified since.
The outbreak led to a six-week shutdown of international events in mainland Europe in a bid to control the spread of the disease.
EHV-1 is common in horses and usually causes respiratory symptoms. However, a less common variant has a greater likelihood of causing neurological problems, which can lead to the death of affected horses.
The fund was set up by jumping athletes Emile Hendrix, Peter Charles and Frederick Goltz, and was supported by the International Equestrian Federation, the European Equestrian Federation, the International Jumping Riders Club, the Jumping Owners Club, equestrian organisers, and Riders Help Riders.
The funds were earmarked to reimburse the veterinary expenses of those affected. Applications amounted to a total of €354,476 and, thanks to the generosity of donors – with donations ranging from €1000 to €100,000 – 76.8% of costs were covered.
Claims received ranged from more than €24,000 to less than €650.
The solidarity demonstrated by the creators of the fund and the donors moved many recipients to express their gratitude.
One said they were grateful for the support in what was a “difficult situation”. Another said they were moved by what they called an act of solidarity.
FEI President Ingmar De Vos added his praise over the creation of the fund. “We are happy to have been able to support this great initiative and congratulate everyone on making it happen.
“The financial support provided to the athletes through this fund has been crucial to them and has also once again demonstrated the great solidarity within our equestrian community,” De Vos said.
All contributed money has now been disbursed, and the fund has been wound up.
Goltz, one of the founders, said: “The EHV-1 outbreak in Spain was desperately traumatic for all those impacted and we were happy to be able to help ease some of the financial challenges through the fund.
“We owe a huge thank you to everyone who donated so generously and showed the true spirit of our sport.”