Animal Health Experts Head to Panama for Sport Horse Talks

Animal Health Experts Head to Panama for Sport Horse Talks

HRH Princess Haya, FEI President and OIE Goodwill Ambassador, urges improvement in the cross-border movement of horses as participation in equestrian sport reaches record highs in South America.

Photo: Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)

More than 60 government representatives and veterinary and horse sport experts from 23 countries will head to Panama City, Panama, next week (Dec. 11-13) for a summit on the international movement of horses.

The talks have been convened by the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) at a time when participation in equestrian sport has reached a record high in South America and with the 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Olympic and Paralympic Games on the horizon.

Attendees will focus on finding a solution to current import and export procedures, which do not take into consideration the lower risks of "high-health" sport horses and which could be restricting the growth of top-level equestrian sport in the region.

This year, over 300 equestrian events governed by the FEI have taken place in South America, with worldwide competitions growing by 27% since 2008 to more than 3,000 a year.

The clock is also ticking towards Rio 2016, when in just 1,336 days South America will host its first Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian competitions.

The experts heading to Panama City will focus on updating their current biosecurity protocols--which exist to protect animal and human populations against the risk of disease spread--in order to allow "high-health, high performance" sport horses to travel safely and swiftly across borders.

"Horse sport in South America already has a huge economic impact, creating tens of thousands of jobs and sustaining many industries associated with the sport," explained HRH Princess Haya, FEI President and OIE Goodwill Ambassador, ahead of the talks.

"In the run up to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, there will be several thousand more equestrian events across South America but to sustain and promote this growth, horses must be able to move without difficulty across borders to compete while we ensure biosecurity protocols are adhered to," she continued.

The OIE and FEI organized a joint conference during the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2011, focusing on the international movement of horses. They have since worked with a global network of government, veterinary and horse sport specialists to help improve the movement of high-health, high-performance sport horses.

"We are looking forward to welcoming the region's best animal health and horse sport experts to Panama City," continued HRH Princess Haya. "Together, we will establish a better system that works for everyone before Rio 2016 and that will ensure that horse sport continues to flourish in the region."

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