On to Hong Kong, With Confidence!
RELEASE: February 21, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By the International Equestrian Federation
The FEI held an informational pre-Olympic workshop in Lausanne, Switzerland, on February 17, 2008 furthering their dedication to ensuring horse health and welfare at the 2008 Olympic Games to be held August 8-24 in Hong Kong. The workshop was designed to follow-up on the data collection and research conducted at the test event in Hong Kong in August 2007. There was a wide range of panelists and speakers, including veterinarians, shipping agents, BOCOG representatives and FEI staff. United States Equestrian Federation personnel attended along with representatives from the majority of other countries who will be competing at the Olympics.
Below is a summary of the workshop.
"Great facilities, research and resources assure us that the horses competing at the equestrian Olympic Games in Hong Kong will be more than well cared for!" said IOC Medical Director Dr Patrick Schamasch at the end of Sunday's historic Workshop on Heat & Humidity in Lausanne, Switzerland attended by 160 delegates from 25 National Federations.
And the message going out from the floor of the meeting was one of unanimous agreement that everything possible is being done to protect the equine members of the equestrian partnerships.
Martin Atock, from the official horse transportation agents Peden Bloodstock, believes that horses should arrive in Hong Kong in great shape.
"When we flew horses to Sydney we had two technical stops but they flew well,” said Atock. “They were relaxed before traveling having spent 14 days in quarantine and there is no reason why they won't travel to Hong Kong just as easily. If you stick to the rules and take the advice you are being given they should arrive safely and comfortably.”
The series of presentations, detailed in the Olympic News Section of the website (http://www.fei.org/Events/Olympic_Games/Pages/summ.aspx), allayed fears about the challenge presented by Hong Kong's sub-tropical climate.
Dr. Andrew Higgins, Chairman of the FEI's Welfare Sub-Committee said "information is available and documented and if there is anything you don't understand or can't find then you only have to ask and the FEI will be more than happy to answer your questions and when in Hong Kong follow the bio-security measures - we are importing healthy horses so let's keep them healthy”
Prof. Leo Jeffcott, Veterinary Delegate to the 2008 Games, offered this directive: "We don't want to make you complacent. This is a great venue but we also need a great effort to ensure success and that includes RESPONSIBLE RIDING in these conditions. Horses must not be over-stretched and should be really fit - if we don't have responsible riding then everything we have put in place will come to nothing..."
U.S. veterinary expert Dr. Catherine Kohn said that today's speakers were "advocates for the welfare of your horses. Please make use of all the resources being made available to you. Our goal is safe and excellent competition".
Dr David Marlin pointed out that the state-of-the-art air-conditioning and cooling facilities "should be a major contribution to the welfare and safety of your horses" while Dr Chris Riggs, Head of Veterinary Clinical Services at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, emphasized that "between now and the Games, phone us, contact us by email, keep in touch with us - there is only so much we can guess about what you need in terms of supplies and facilities - let us know what you particular requirements are and we will do our best to help. There is no point in turning up to find that there are things you need which we don't have - we can't give you everything but we don't want to disappoint you".
Dr Keith Watkins from the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Equestrian Company once again emphasized the need for vigilance in order to safeguard horse health and FEI Veterinary Director Frits Sluyter recommended that all horses should be vaccinated ag