In light of the recent EHV-1 outbreak, horse owners around California are pondering if it is a good idea for the largest equestrian related expo in North America to still occur this weekend. The Western States Horse Expo in Sacramento draws horses and horse enthusiasts from all over the country, and could potentially be the type of event cautioned against to transform the EHV-1 outbreak into a pandemic. That being said, WSHE President and Founder Miki Cohen has issued a formal statement outlining the extensive measures the WHSE is taking to ensure a safe and protected experience.
Cohen and Western States Horse Expo organizers are remaining in close contact with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and points out the CDFA has not recommended any horse-related events be cancelled. Event organizers are promoting education about the outbreak, and monitoring other large equine event organizers, whom they say have also not recommended canceling events. Management will be following recommended biosecurity protocols and disinfecting all permanent barns and temporary stalls. Every horse at the Expo will be monitored by an on-site veterinarian, and all will have a temperature chart posted on the front of their stall.
As of May 27th, all of the scheduled 2011 clinicians were still bringing their horses as planned. Horses will be coming from both the United States and Canada. This is a huge display of confidence in the safety measures being taken by Expo management, as many of the clinician and demonstration horses are very valuable animals that could conceivably cause a loss of livelihood were they to be lost to an EHV-1 outbreak.
In the official statement, Cohen goes on to say that, “Even if the government mandated that no horses were to be transported anywhere for a certain amount of time, the Horse Expo would proudly continue. This event brings such a variety of speakers, educational topics, a trail symposium, equine health topics, breeding information, availability of state-of-the-art equipment, trailers, trucks — the Horse Expo will always happen!”
While the risk of a prolonged outbreak of EHV-1 at an event like the Western States Horse Expo exists, prospective Expo attendees and exhibitors should trust that all possible measures are being taken to ensure the health and safety of all attending horses. To see the full WSHE statement, see the link on their website http://www.horsexpo.com/ .
San Jose remains free of confirmed EHV-1 cases.