By Tom Degun in Guadalajara

Eric Alain_Lamaze_at_Pan_Am_Games_in_Guadalajara_October_29_2011October 31 - International Federation for Equestrian (FEI) President Princess Haya of Jordan has warned there is a race against time to ensure conditions for horses in South America are dramatically improved ahead of the equestrian events at the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. 

The issue of poor conditions for the animals dominated that joint World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and FEI conference here which was attended by 80 Government Ministers, international veterinarians and other specialists and held to coincide with the Pan American Games. 

It was claimed that the poor conditions are imposed on healthy competition horses when they travel between South American countries and that it is subsequently having a detrimental impact on their performance and also on the development of equestrian sport across the region.

The conference called for the removal of outdated or unjustified import and export barriers and the need for greater understanding of the health certification and quarantine requirements for horses competing at national and international levels with the relevant bodies agreeing to work together to sort the problem ahead of Rio 2016.

"The objectives of the OIE are now more important to the world than ever," said Princess Haya, who competed in show jumping at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

"The rapid expansion of horse sport in South America is being reflected around the world.

"In the Americas particularly horse sport has grown swiftly from national to international level and this requires the increased movement of horses across borders in order to compete.

"In 2016, Rio de Janeiro will host the Olympic Games and we are now in a race against time to find an improvement to the current situation in the Americas.

"The FEI fully agrees with the OIE that sanitary measures and periods of quarantine must be applied in a reasoned manner that is proportional to the risk and we are all now looking forward to finding clear, easily understood and harmonised solutions and reducing confusing and sometimes conflicting bureaucratic demands."

Princess Haya, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, is severing her second and final term as FEI President after being re-elected to the role last year.

The 37-year-old, who is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, has made anti-doping and horse welfare a central theme of her leadership after scandals involving horses failing drug tests at the past two Olympics.

"My greatest hope is that this conference will put the Americas on the road to applying a factual, risk- and science-based approach and that together we will find a practical, effective and quick solution to this issue," she said.

Dr Gardner_Murray_in_Mexico_at_Conference_October_2011OIE Representative Dr Gardner Murray (pictured) back the statement made by Princess Haya saying the issue is one that cannot be ignored ahead of Rio 2016.

"Improving the movement of horses while ensuring their safety and health is essential to the continued expansion of horse sport in South America," said the Briton who now works in Australia.

"This landmark joint FEI and OIE conference has brought together key stakeholders to address the issues at regional and global level as equestrian sport and competition is seeing massive growth across the region.

"There has been a clear call for a more reasoned approach to health certification complying with OIE standards and guidelines and the early recommendations from the conference must be acted on swiftly, so that changes can be made well before the Olympic Games in Rio."

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