OIE Hands Down 'Pivotal' Decision on Sport Horse Movement

OIE Hands Down 'Pivotal' Decision on Sport Horse Movement

The decision means there is now a specific OIE mandate to work with governments around the world to ensure a harmonized process for moving top-level sport horses for major international competitions.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

The Fédération Equestre Internationale's (FEI) effort to improve the international movement of high-level sport horses took a step forward yesterday after a "pivotal" decision by global members of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the FEI said.

Representatives from 178 countries attending the general session of the World Assembly of OIE Delegates in Paris, France, May 28 gave a resounding green light to the adoption in principle of the “high-health, high-performance horse” (HHP) concept within a new OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code Chapter. This means that there is now a specific OIE mandate to work with governments around the world to ensure a harmonized process for moving top-level sport horses for major international competitions.

The HHP concept will be rolled out in 2014, and Korea has already implemented import requirements based on this concept for the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, taking place September 19-October 4.

The news comes less than 18 months after the FEI and the OIE formed a partnership in response to a clearly expressed demand from countries for help in improving the cross-border movement of top-level sport horses.

“This is a landmark development in global access to equestrian sport,” said HRH Princess Haya, FEI president. “It means our athletes, who are working so hard to represent their countries at key international events, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games, have the opportunity do so in future with practical and safe horse movement approaches from governments around the world.

“We are extremely grateful to everyone within the OIE, FEI, and the racing world, who have seen the necessity for this, and have dedicated themselves to enhancing horse sport and further opening up the economic benefits for communities working with horses,” she said. “We’re now looking forward to the job ahead, and to working to create the conditions necessary for success.”

Bernard Vallat, DVM, OIE director general, added, “We have worked with the FEI for over ten years to identify practical national veterinary requirements, and we have recently advanced further quickly, presenting government experts around the world with solutions to meet their specific requirements based on the OIE standards of compartmentalization and harnessing our public-private partnership. This has been key to today’s outcome.

“Our members fully understood the need for finding a way with all details needed to better recognize the lower risk of moving such highly supervised horses within OIE standards, and the HHP concept does that,” he said. “There has also been a recognition of the economic impact of the equine industry and this concept will allow countries to tap into the potential income associated with increasing numbers of FEI and horse racing events.”

Louis Romanet, chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) and vice president of the International Horse Sports Confederation, said, “It is vital for the growth of equestrian sport that horses can move safely and easily to compete at the world’s biggest events. This latest development follows intensive efforts by the OIE, FEI, IFHA, and veterinary and government experts around the world to adopt an improved specific approach to international movement of our top-level sport horses, and this will have a deep impact on the future of both international racing and FEI sport.”

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