Tag Archives: Equestrian News

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Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) – The Facts

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A recent outbreak of Neurological EHV-1 in Hampshire resulting in four fatalities to date, has led to multiple temporary yard closures in the area. As this disease affects all areas throughout the year, it seemed important to share the facts surrounding the disease. We sought advice from veterinary professionals to provide you with the most up-to-date information on the virus, its symptoms and the precautionary measures to take should you be concerned that your horse may have come into contact with the virus. 

 

Equine Herpes Virus is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in horses worldwide. Almost every horse will have been in contact with the virus at some stage in its life with no serious side effects, it can lay dormant in carrier horses without causing any problems. It is not yet understood what causes some infected horses to develop neurological forms which can be fatal. It is a highly contagious disease particularly affecting younger horses and in-foal mares. It is spread through both direct (nose to nose) contact, indirectly through tack, rugs, feed buckets, owners’ hands, through sharing drinking water where it can survive for up to one month, and airborne through coughing and sneezing. It is therefore vital that the correct bio security procedures are followed to prevent further spread. 

 

The Equine Herpes Virus is a family of different viruses that are closely linked to the viruses that cause cold sores, chicken pox and shingles in humans. The two most common species in horses are EHV-1, which can cause sudden abortion in in-foal mares, respiratory disease and occasionally neurologic disease; and EHV-4, which will cause respiratory disease but only rarely cause abortion and neurological disease where the infection has damaged the spinal cord, in the event of this occurring, its is generally advised that the horse is euthanized on a welfare basis.

 

Clinical signs of the disease will depend on the form of the disease but can include:

  • Fever
  • Nasal Discharge 
  • Depression
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abortion
  • Loss of bladder and tail function
  • Hind limb paralysis

 

‘If you are concerned that your horse may have come in contact with herpes virus it is extremely important that you place your horse in isolation immediately for 14 days. Stringent bio-security measures are paramount. These include regular disinfection of the surrounding environment and equipment, hand washing, disinfection of boots, removal of outer clothing after seeing your horse and visiting no other horses to avoid direct and indirect contact with other horses. You should notify your vet, who will recommend collection of a blood sample for herpes serum antibody at the beginning and near the end of the isolation period. It can take up to 14 days for a horse to develop antibodies which is why two samples are required for comparison. A nasal swab should also be collected at the end of the isolation period to ensure your horse is not shedding virus. During the isolation period regular monitoring including twice daily rectal temperature recording is essential. A fever is often one of the first signs of herpes infection.’

Beth Robinson

New Forest Equine Vets

 

It is important to let others know that you have a suspected case of EHV, these people include, other horse owners, vets, farriers and anyone likely to have come into contact with the horse.  Only through open communication will we  break the stigma surrounding the virus and help prevent the spread of the disease.

 

Treatment for the virus once confirmed is predominantly supportive care as many antiviral drugs used in humans aren’t effective in horses. The virus is allowed to run its course whilst keeping the horse as comfortable as possible, anti-inflammatory drugs such as bute are often administered and some horses might require intravenous fluids.

 

The best methods of prevention are the EHV-1 vaccination which is effective against the Respiratory form of the disease which prevents abortion and correct bio-security. There are currently no vaccinations that can prevent the Neurological form of infection. The vaccination is considered ‘risk based’ so for more information on the vaccine, seek veterinary advice. It is most commonly used in breeding mares, but it begs the question, should we be vaccinating against this virus as religiously as we do with flu and tetanus?

 

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The British Equestrian Federation has issued the following statement regarding the recent outbreak 

‘The Federation supports the actions of the centre who have ceased all activity, including cancelling shows and hire bookings until further notice. The Animal Health Trust has issued advice stating that all horses who have recently visited the centre are immediately isolated for a period of 14 days and that owners seek veterinary advice regarding clinical monitoring and laboratory test clearance.’

 

British Show Jumping stated on 13th January 2020 

‘Following the recent outbreak of EHV-1 it is now a requirement that any horse or pony that has been on site at Crofton Manor, Hampshire since the 20th December 2019 is required to have a negative swab and blood test before competing at any British Showjumping show or organised event.’

 

British Dressage stated on 13th January 2020

In consultation with the Animal Health Trust and on the advice provided in today’s British Equestrian Federation updateBritish Dressage requires members with any horses or ponies who visited Crofton Manor EC between 20 December and 7 January for any reason (training or competition) have them tested by a veterinary surgeon for EHV-1. This is in addition to the originally recommended isolation period of 14 days and daily clinical monitoring. Owners of any horses or ponies who have been to Crofton EC in the specified should liaise directly with their veterinary surgeon on the testing process and advice.’

 

At this stage, there have been no confirmed cases in horses outside of Crofton Manor. It is only with complete transparency and strict bio security procedures that we can control the spread of this awful disease. 

Our thoughts go out to the Centre and the owners of the horses that were sadly euthanised. 

 

Oliver Townend for Horse Scout

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Eleanore Kelly catches up with Horse Scout Ambassador Oliver Townend, about his journey so far, finding good horses, paying the bills and his computer illiteracy.

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Oliver has had another momentous year. The Shropshire-based rider claimed the Number One spot in the British Eventing rankings for the third year running. He finished a staggering 1000 points ahead of any other rider on a total of 2,341 points. There were numerous top ten finishes at International events for Oliver this year, including becoming the first British rider to win Adelaide CIC3* on a horse he had only ridden a few times before competing! The icing on the cake for Oliver was winning the very first Event Rider Masters Series, pocketing £74,000 in the process.

“It was a huge relief to win it” explained Oliver, who has prepared and campaigned several horses with this series in mind. “To me the ERM is a huge step forward in the sport- it’s a concept that works and for the riders and owners the prize money is seriously attractive. It has certainly made a massive difference in terms of my income this year. I didn’t run the horses I knew would be competitive in this class and people expected me to win it from when it was announced. So it was a relief when I did.”

Oliver has always been famed for his grit and determination. Renowned for his ability to get the best out of notoriously difficult horses. In recent years with such success behind him, he has had the luxury of being able to buy and compete better quality horses but he still relishes the challenge of a difficult one. “I love what I do and always have but riding nice horses is the answer to everything for me now. If I am going to event, I want to be on good horses” he says. “It’s difficult to find them and we have to be open minded- new rides come from all angles. I buy quite a lot from Ireland of all ages but I still have room for more owners. I am still sent horses that are talented but perhaps don’t suit other riders and I make the best of those.”

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There are a number of stars in the Townend stable. “Too many to list but I really rate Cooley SRS, who is only 9 and finished third at Boekelo” he says. He also cites Cooley Masterclass and King Joules as “exceptionally talented”, the latter has been passed from Mary King and Andrew Nicholson with a reputation for being a tricky ride.

I remember interviewing Oliver for an article some years ago. He was still renting a yard and having to sell anything that was any good and ride all sorts, just to make ends meet. Whilst he may be riding a better string of horses, his attitude to the sport has remained unchanged. What seems to motivate Oliver is an insatiable hunger to win but he still relishes riding talented but often challenging horses. With such success behind him, a string of good horses and a beautiful farm in Shropshire he could be forgiven for resting on his laurels but he has lost none of the grit and determination over the years.

Oliver won Burghley and Badminton back in 2009 and can now add the ERM Series to his list of achievements. Yet two goals remain on the agenda- “I need to get to an Olympics” he says firmly, “and I hope to God that happens soon.”

Then there’s the Rolex Grand Slam, which was won for only the second time by German’s Michael Jung this year. Eventing’s most lucrative prize is awarded to the rider who can achieve the near impossible feat of winning Badminton, Burghley and Lexington consecutively. Oliver was on course in 2010 after winning Badminton and Burghley the previous year. Yet in the cruel nature of the sport, a death-defying fall at Lexington put paid to his chances. It was a fall so dramatic that the photos made the front pages of national newspapers.

“A chance at the Grand Slam and the Olympics are the long-term goals but it all comes down to life in the end.” He says. “For me, this is a business and I need to keep doing what I am doing to survive in the sport. That means I need to sell horses, sometimes good ones.”

As well as selling good horses to keep the wheels turning, Oliver is always on the lookout for new blood and finding the good ones is never easy. “That being said, we are in a really good place in the market right now and if you’ve got a good one it can be worth a fortune” he explains. “There sport is growing in popularity- there are lots of new nations competing and more money coming into, it all helps. I was really encouraged by the prices paid at the recent Go for Gold Sale”, which took place last month in Ireland offered a collection of Irish sport horses selected especially for eventing and ranging from three year olds to established eventers, including Euro Prince who represented Ireland in Rio 2016. Record prices were paid, including €160,000 given for a talented six year old, Cornascriebe Glenpatrick who was bought for Millie Dumas.

Oliver argues that such prices area a real step forward for the industry. “It costs a lot of money to produce horses for eventing, people forget that. Good horses should be making these prices for riders to get a return. It’s also great to see owners paying these prices for their riders, it shows a lot of commitment to the sport, which is what we need to win medals.”

Oliver has been impressed by the service provided by Horse Scout. “It’s an interesting concept for the equestrian community and definitely something our industry needs. Anything to help connect the equestrian industry is a welcome addition. Particularly for professional riders but also breeders and trainers who don’t have time to spend on social media all day. For up and coming young riders, it is a good way of getting their profile out there.”

“The site looks impressive and most importantly, it is easy to use- important for me as I’m computer illiterate! I can ride a difficult horse but I can hardly work out an ipad!” he laughs.