Equestrian event organisers have a new tool in their arsenal to help navigate the way through biosecurity, disease recognition and risk reduction at horse competitions and gatherings.
The creation of Advice notes for BEF member bodies and organisers of horse gatherings by British Equestrian’s Equine Infections Disease Action Group (EIDAG) is the result of months of work. It aims to provide practical advice so that equine member bodies and those involved in organising any type of equestrian gathering can put effective and practical measures, guidance and education in place.
It follows the EHV outbreak in Europe earlier this year, which EIDAG chair Celia Marr said demonstrated what is possible with a collaborative approach between horse owners, member bodies, veterinary practitioners, industry advisers and organisers.
“We managed the situation promptly so there were no linked cases on home soil, but without us working together, the situation could have been much worse.
“Infectious disease is with us all time, but the welfare of our equines and mitigating the risk of transmission is a team effort. Responsibility lies with all of us in the equine community to work together and play a part,” Marr said.
The guidance is based on 10 pillars of equine infectious disease management that organisers should follow:
Based on compliance and measures in place, gatherings can then operate at gold, silver or bronze standard to illustrate the level of biosecurity in place to those looking to enter or take part. Vaccination, self-certification, surveillance and enhanced biosecurity are key elements for organisers, and participants, to consider for gatherings – the more stringent the requirements, the less risk of transmission at that event.
Available online, the advice notes also contain general background information on endemic and exotic diseases present in Britain to help educate horse owners on signs and management. The information provided in the notes should be used in tandem with British Equestrian’s ‘Diseases to know about’ section on the website.
The group has also provided recommended wording for member bodies on privacy policies, affiliation agreements and code of conduct to work with their organisers in a bid to drive standards towards a gold rating for activities.
Marr said it was hoped that the guidance notes would be a catalyst for instilling the principles of biosecurity and their importance for all who interact with equines, be they grassroots or professionals. “Getting the key messages across, education and practical advice is crucial to reducing transmission risk and keeping disease in our equine population in check,” she said.
The nine-member strong EIDAG was set up in October 2019 and comprises industry leaders with expertise in equine medicine and infectious diseases. Their primary objective on the project was to help those in the equine industry who oversee and organise equine activities to play an essential role in mitigating the risk posed by infectious diseases to Britain’s equine population.
British Equestrian Chief Executive Jim Eyre said the assistance of the EIDAG during the EHV outbreak in Europe and its dedication towards producing the new document, was commendable.
“This document paves the way for better biosecurity and education for all involved in equestrian activity and will only help to keep our horses safe from disease. I look forward to working with the group towards the next step.”
The EDIAG and the British Equestrian team have a handbook for organisers in development, which will give clear advice on achieving the three standards for equine gatherings. The guide will include collateral to help with biosecurity education and communication with participants and should be released this autumn.
Philip A S Ivens, MA, VetMB, Cert EM (Int. Med.), DipECEIM, MRCVS, EBVS European Veterinary Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine, RCVS Specialist in Equine Medicine (Internal Medicine), Buckingham Equine Vets Ltd, Wicken, Milton Keynes.
Celia M Marr (chairman), BVMS, MVM, PhD, DEIM, DipECEIM, FRCVS, EBVS European Veterinary Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine, RCVS Specialist in Equine Medicine (Internal Medicine), Rossdales Equine Hospital and Diagnostic Centre, Newmarket, Suffolk.
John McEwen, MBE BVMS MRCVS Director of Equine Sports Science and Medicine, British Equestrian, Equestrian House, Abbey Park, Stareton, Warwickshire.
J Richard Newton, BVSc MSc PhD FRCVS, Equine Infectious Disease Surveillance, Cambridge.
Jane V M Nixon, MA,VetMB, BSc, MRCVS, Overtonfields, Maids Moreton, Buckingham.
Roly A Owers, MA, MSc, VetMB, MRCVS, World Horse Welfare, Snetterton, Norfolk.
R Scott Pirie, BVM&S, PhD, DipECEIM, Cert EP, Cert EM(Int Med), MRCVS, EBVS European Veterinary Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine, RCVS Specialist in Equine Medicine (Internal Medicine), Dick Vet Equine Hospital, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Roslin, Midlothian.
David I Rendle, BVSc, MVM, Cert EM (Int.Med.), DipECEIM, FRCVS, EBVS European Veterinary Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine, RCVS Specialist in Equine Medicine (Internal Medicine), Tiverton, Devon.
Matthew G Robin, BVSc, BSc, M.Phil, DipECEIM, CertAVP(EM), MRCVS, EBVS, RCVS and European Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine, Rainbow Equine Hospital, Malton.