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Equine Herpes

International horse sport cancelled in Europe after one of the worst outbreaks of Equine Herpes in living memory.

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The FEI announced last night (1 March) that all international events in 10 countries in mainland Europe would be cancelled with immediate effect, until at least 28 March. This was due to an outbreak of the most serious strain of EHV-1 (Equine Herpes), the neurological form which attacks the central nervous system of the horse and is highly contagious. It is known so far that four horses have been euthanised over the weekend and 84 horses in Valencia alone had tested positive. 

A spokesperson from the FEI refers to it as “the rapid evolution of a very aggressive strain of the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1).” It  has been traced back to Valencia in Spain and has already resulted in related outbreaks in at least three other countries in Europe.


This rule applies to all FEI sports, not just showjumping. However, the FEI have also decreed that in order to prevent huge numbers of horses simultaneously departing the Jumping Tours on the Iberian Peninsula, in Italy and Belgium that have been ongoing for a number of weeks, these specific Tours will be allowed to continue as individual “bubbles” on the condition that absolutely no new horses are allowed to enter the venues and no positive cases of Equine Herpes (EHV-1) are confirmed.

The Jumping Tour venues in Spain- Vejer de la Frontera, Portugal- Vilamoura and Italy- San Giovanni in Marignano and Gorla Minore (ITA) will have stringent biosecurity protocols in place and additional FEI Veterinary Delegates onsite. According to the FEI, horses will only be permitted to leave these venues when they are in possession of an official health certificate from the local Veterinary Authorities. Any horses leaving these venues without this documentation will be blocked on the FEI Database. It is also illegal to transport a horse without an official health certificate.

The popular Spanish venue of Oliva Nova had already advised the FEI that it will be cancelling the rest of its scheduled competitions in the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour III. Opglabbeek in Belgium has also informed the FEI that it has cancelled its events in March.

A number of European countries have already cancelled all their events to reduce transmission of the virus as far as possible. The UK- not part of the list, has not returned to competition due to Covid enforced lockdown conditions. 


The ten countries in question are France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and Slovakia. The decision has been made in accordance with FEI General Regulations Article 112.3, which state: “The Secretary General shall have the authority to remove any Competition and/or Event from the Calendar if justified circumstances relating to a Competition or the Event are established.”


Speaking on their decision, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said:

“This was not an easy decision to block events in mainland Europe, particularly after the major disruption to the FEI Calendar caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, but this EHV-1 outbreak is probably the most serious we have had in Europe for many decades and our decision is based on clearly identified epidemiological risk factors.

This strain of EHV-1 is particularly aggressive and has already caused equine fatalities and a very large number of severe clinical cases. We need to keep our horses safe.

We are also aware that a large number of horses left the venue in Valencia without an official health certificate, meaning they had an unknown health status. Some horses were already sick, and the risk of transmission from these horses is a major concern.

Cancelling these competitions in mainland Europe, with the exception of the ongoing Jumping Tours in the Iberian Peninsula and Italy, limits the number of horses travelling internationally and therefore reduces the likelihood of this very serious virus being transmitted on an increasingly wider scale. We also strongly recommend that the affected member Federations should also cancel their national events.

We are very conscious of the fact that this is a very stressful and distressing time, and that this is potentially hugely disruptive for those athletes aiming for their Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MERs) or confirmation results for Tokyo, but we are looking at ways to alleviate that in order to assist athlete/horse combinations in getting their MERs or confirmation results once the events in mainland Europe are allowed to resume.”


The FEI is conscious that some athletes have already arrived on competition venues or are en route, and is directly contacting all impacted athletes entered in Events between now and 28 March 2021.


A widespread testing programme is being carried out. Symptoms of Equine Herpes include: 

  • High temperature
  • Nasal discharge
  • A dry cough
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced performance 
  • Lethargy/depression
  • Unable to pass urine or droppings
  • Poor limb coordination- in severe cases unable to stand

It can be spread via direct horse to horse contact but also contaminated equipment, handler clothing or boots.


Written by Horse Scout reporter, Ellie Kelly.


MARS Great Meadow International 2-4*, VA, US starts today.

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The majority of 2020’s eventing season has taken a huge hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the vast amount of riders eagerly anticipating the return to some form of normality. It is, therefore, fantastic to finally see one of the first high-profile shows in North American eventing take place this year at the MARS Great Meadow international in Virginia, USA.

Following the cancellation of the USEA American Eventing Championships along with multiple other high-performance events this season, the organisers of Great Meadow international have introduced a CCI3*-L division to give competitors more opportunity to qualify for the fall season. Needless to say, the excitement leading toward this show has been building, although it will inevitably be unlike any show previously experienced.


The event organisers have taken multiple precautions in order to safely run this show and a strict safety protocol will be in effect for all participants to adhere to. Some of the measures taken will include:

  • Daily temperature checks for everyone entering the competition grounds.
  • Enforced social distancing measures throughout the showground and stabling.
  • Facemasks to be worn at all times on the premises unless mounted.
  • No access to the competition grounds for the general public, spectators, and non-essential personnel.

This ‘new normal’ for equestrians may take some getting used to, but in order for eventing to resume it is vital for shows to provide a safe environment for all participants. It is essential for these shows to run in compliance with both state and local health regulations, FEI regulations as well as the USEF COVID-19 Competition Action Plan.

Regardless of these necessary precautions, the show has seen a significant number of horse and rider combinations registering, with over 200 entries. The MARS Great Meadow International has received 75 entries in the CCI4*-S division alone, so a thrilling competition is guaranteed!


Some of this years riders to watch include:

  • Winner of the 2018 competition, Will Colman with three rides in the 4* – Tight Lines, Dondante and TKS Cooley.
  • Liz Halliday-Sharp with four rides in the 4* section – Flash Cooley, Fernhill By Night, Deniro Z, and Cooley Quicksilver.
  • Clayton Fredericks with FE Coldplay
  • Phillip Dutton with five entries including Fernhill Singapore, Luke 140, Z Sea of Clouds, and Blackfoot Mystery who he is riding for Boyd Martin.  
  • Founder and CEO of Horse Scout Group, Lucienne Elms has two rides in the 4* section, Mistralou her retrained racehorse and Diamond Duette, by Carrick Diamond Lad.

Lucienne Elms and Diamond Duette will be competing at MARS Great Meadow International this week
Lucienne Elms and Diamond Duette by Carrick Diamond Lad.

The show will kick off today (Wednesday 19th August 2020) and the full schedule can be viewed here.


Horse and Country TV will be live streaming the MARS Great Meadow International with Karen O’Connor and Sinead Halpin commentating and are sure to provide some great insights into this year’s competition. The live streaming schedule is as follows –

Friday, Aug. 21: CCI3*-L, CCI2*-S, and Preliminary cross country; CCI4*-S dressage.

Saturday, Aug. 22: Show jumping phase.

​Sunday, Aug. 23: CCI3*-S and CCI4*-S XC.

Don’t miss out on what is sure to be a spectacular event – Live Stream here.


The team at Horse Scout would like to wish the best of luck to all competitors at this year’s event.

breeding

A Brave New World For Breeding

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An exciting collaboration has been established between Spy Coast Farm, one of USA’s largest sport horse breeders and Mares of Macha, a Belgian company selling embryos, which could help revolutionize, monetize and incentivize the sport and breeding industry. It is also hoped that this partnership paves the way to increase two-way breeding trade between the US and Europe.

The objective of the collaboration is to identify and champion top dam lines (some of which may have migrated to the US) and then make the acquisition of their frozen embryo’s more transparent and accessible to buyers all over the world.


The seeds of the partnership were sown when Lisa Lourie of Spy Coast Farm was approached by Klaas De Coster of Mares of Macha, to buy a filly from her elite foundation mare “Werly Chin de Muze”. Klaas wished to reintroduce this highly regarded dam line back to Europe and beyond, as he saw it to be one of the best in the world.

Mares of Macha collects frozen embryos from the world’s top dam lines and then sells frozen them to buyers all over the world for preset fees. Spy Coast will help promote the initiative in the US. The emphasis is on giving everyone access to proven breeding via the best dam lines, explains Klaas: “ Our objective is simple: access to proven breeding. It was really difficult if you were a normal breeder and wanted to breed World Cup horses or Olympic horses. It was impossible to get in contact with the right people and be able to even buy the foals and embryos. We were lucky because we already had a connection and contacts within the sport. We wanted to try to make those extremely rare horses available for all the people in the room.”


Spy Coast Farm has long been a highly regarded breeding operation in the US. Now it is making its mark on Europe, which for years has been considered the epicenter of sport horse breeding. Klaas recognized and admired what Spy Coast was achieving and was keen to buy their foundation mare, Werly Chin de Muze. He explains why. “Werly Chin is out of Querly Chin, I think she is the best broodmare in the world, ever. I am a mathematician so I do the research and I look at results. No other horse has done what she has done in producing top horses and Werly is a direct daughter. She has given a number of 1m60 horses already. She is such a special mare.”

As testament to the success and reputation of Spy Coast Farm, Lisa has been regularly approached by breeders from all over the world to sell her mares but has resisted the temptation. Yet she felt it was a ‘meeting of minds’ with Klaas and after much persuasion, she agreed to sell her beloved Werly to Mares of Macha.

“By selling to Mares of Macha, I could be assured that Werly’s genetics will be dispersed to the maximum number of breeders rather than just one breeder” explains Lisa. “I was impressed by Klass who was not just a breeder, he was an entrepreneur.” Mares of Macha is not so much a traditional stud but rather a highly thought out enterprise, with the aim of making the best bloodlines available to a wider market as frozen embryos. We agree with each other’s philosophy of breeding and hope that this venture will positively impact sport horse breeding around the world.”


Written by Horse Scout CEO Lucienne Elms and Horse Scout Journalist Ellie Kelly.