FEI calls for modernisation of international sport horse transportation standards
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
May 29 - The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has made a call for improved and harmonised protocols for the global transportation of "high health, high performance" sport horses across borders.
In collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) – the reference standard-setting organisation for the international movement of animals by the World Trade Organisation – the FEI is urging for the modernisation of high health status horse travel to reflect the increasingly global nature of equestrian sport.
"As a result of the high increase in international equestrian sport, important constraints to the movement of horses have been revealed," explained OIE director general Dr Bernard Vallat, as he opened the 80th General Session of the World Assembly of OIE Delegates in Paris.
"It is clear that there is a need to define the criteria for healthy, high performance horses as a sub-population, which reflects the low level of disease risk involved in their movement.
As things stand, many Governments have a number of strict procedures in place when importing and exporting horses, to protect against the threat of disease among the general horse population, however, these ignore the meticulous veterinary care of elite level performance horses.
However, the FEI and OIE say the recognition of a lower disease risk among these horses would simplify and improve their cross-border transportation by national vets, with a working group being established to examine the issues involved.
Addressing the 600 delegates at the OIE General Assembly, which brought together representatives of 178 member countries and 50 international organisations, Graeme Cooke (pictured above), the FEI veterinary director, said: "The number of FEI events has increased by 34 per cent over the last three years and, given the popularity of equestrian sport worldwide, we expect the number of FEI competitions at all levels to continue growing.
"We will ensure that high levels of biosecurity are in place around those events.
"The FEI regulatory approach provides a high level of veterinary supervision and when these horses travel internationally they are to be viewed by Governments as animals that have a substantially reduced health risk."
FEI President Princess Haya added: "We strongly support the values and principles of the OIE and we are working in close collaboration with the OIE to find a clear and safe solution that will greatly improve the movement of high health, high performance horses."
Conversely, British equestrian bodies have recently stepped up disease surveillance ahead of the London 2012 Olympics after two horses tested positive for equine influenza at FEI Nations Cup competition La Baule in France at the beginning of the month.