French Veterinarians Preparing for 2014 WEG

Photo: Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)

Repeat after me: Chevaux. Say it this way: “SHEV-O.” Very good! That’s “horses” in French. You’ll want to practice that word and many more over the next nine-and-a-half months as the equestrian world prepares for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 (WEG), to be held next summer in Normandy, France.

WEG organizers will spend their chilly Norman winter warming up for this seventh edition of the Games, which will feature eight world championships. Competitive events à la carte will include dressage, show jumping, eventing, driving, endurance, reining, vaulting, and para-dressage. But there will also be a demonstration horseball game—a sport born and bred in France’s home field—and a polo match presented in the famous “horse city” of Deauville.

Less than a year out, WEG’s veterinary coordinator Anne Couroucé-Malblanc, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECEIM, is overseeing the recruitment of volunteer veterinarians from around the country. For Couroucé-Malblanc, it’s been one of the easiest tasks so far. “The French veterinarians responded very quickly and very, very positively to my call for help for these Games,” she told The Horse. Within a couple of weeks, she had rounded up more than 80 veterinarians and expects to easily have a team of 100. That’s in addition to the dozens of veterinary students, the 10 or so official anti-doping veterinarians, and the national team veterinarians who will also be onsite during the events.

She’s also lining up tight connections with the wealth of Norman equine health care resources. Within a short distance of the venue, for example, are the world-renowned Frank Duncombe analysis laboratory and the advanced equine imaging center, the Centre d'Imagerie et de Recherche sur les Affections Locomotrices Equines, headed by Jean-Marie Denoix, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR. The University of Rennes’ equine behavior specialists, including Martine Hausberger, PhD, are in the neighboring region of Brittany. France also hosts both of the European Union Reference Laboratories for Equine Diseases—one at its Maisons Alfort Veterinary School just outside Paris, and the other in the Dozulé Equine Disease Laboratory in Normandy.

Strict biosecurity measures are already in place, with the French equine disease surveillance network monitoring what diseases are happening where in the world. The idea is to know which diseases to be particularly careful about with horses coming from countries where outbreaks have recently occurred, Couroucé-Malblanc explained.

Meanwhile, ticket sales have taken off like horses out of the starting gate. As of mid-October, 110,000 of the total 400,000 available tickets have already sold, said WEG’s managing director Fabien Grobon. Half of those have been sold outside of France, including 12,000 in North America alone.

“I was expecting 5,000 to be sold to North America by now, but the real number is more than double that, and we still have nearly a year to go,” he said. Last week, special ticket sales opened up to the country’s 700,000 French Equestrian Federation licensed card holders, bringing that 110,000 total sale figure up by the thousands.

It’s a high-level, high-excitement event that’s getting equally high security and health surveillance for its 1,000 high-profile, high-performance chevaux. So mark your calendars: rendez-vous next summer in Normandy for a World Equestrian Games to remember.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More