There are three very important topics that need to be covered this month, all of which have to do with horses, horse owners, and horse health. And all have to do with communication and the importance of making sure that the message you want sent is the one being received.

First, officials from the USDA and Georgia met with FEI (Federation Equine International) and Olympic officials in Brussels on Dec. 8 and decided to grant waivers allowing horses positive for equine piroplasmosis to enter the United States for the 1996 Olympics (see page 6 for details). Four states told authorities in Georgia that if these waivers were granted, embargoes or other health restrictions would be placed on all horses moving out of Georgia. Other states are expected to follow suit.

The possibility of limited interstate movement of horses is only one part of the big picture concerning this topic. This disease can kill horses. The treatment to cure horses of equine piroplasmosis is considered to be so stressful that not all animals--especially aged equines--are recommended for treatment. Horses can be clinically healthy, but still be carriers of the parasite and spread the disease to other animals. Ticks that can carry this disease can live for two years between feedings, and these ticks exist naturally in Georgia.

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Right now, it looks like the best hope to keep piro-positive horses out of the United States is monetary. That doesn't mean we bribe other countries to keep their best horses home, it means that no one here, especiallyGeorgia, has the money to spend to quarantine and oversee these positive horses.

The other side is that respected veterinarians who have worked in parts of the world where piroplasmosis is endemic say that quarantine measures for dressage and stadium jumping competitors could be accomplished with what they termed little risk to other equine eventers, or to the native horse population.

However, just as many veterinarians are worried about the risk to native horses and want piro-positive horses kept out of the country.

Some regulators say allowing waivers for piro-positive horses sets a bad precedent for future disease control. Proponents for waivers say that if we keep out the best foreign Olympic competitors, it would be just one more reason for the Olympic Committee to urge dropping the equine events altogether.

The Georgia state veterinarian, Lee Brooks, was put in a hard spot. If she stood firm and the federal government granted the waivers, she could have lost all control over the Olympic competitors in her state if a court sided with the federal government. If, however, even one horse gets sick, what will be the ramifications?

All this political bickering is taking away from something that should not be overshadowed. For the past three years, extensive, cooperative efforts have been underway worldwide to study and determine the effects of the potential heat and humidity of Georgia on equine competitors. This cooperation and dedication of health professionals and researchers from around the world will probably end up taking a back burner to regulation and rule disputes whether the piroplasmosis waivers are ultimately granted and utilized, or not.

AAEP Convention

The first week in December is always anticipated, and not just because the kids begin the countdown to Christmas. Each year, the American Association of Equine Practitioners gathers somewhere in North America to learn, teach, and discuss the health concerns of horses. This organization has become very powerful in recent years in establishing guidelines to help veterinarians better care for their clients, human and equine, and as a source of education for members, and horse owners.

A brief summary of some "hot" topics begins on page 49, and in the months to come, other subjects fromthis meeting will be explored.

Untangling The Web

Faster than a speeding Thoroughbred. More powerful than a Shire at work. Look, online, it's...The Horse.

That's right! Starting January 15, you can find The Horse online at  Many items found in the monthly magazine also will be included online, as well as other new features. For example:

  • A weekly Horse Health News area on The Horse will offer you the latest in health care information from around the country, and the world. These news items will be updated at least once a week, and in the case of breaking news, will be addressed daily.
  • Information on topics you say you want at your fingertips, such as nutrition, reproduction, and anatomy and physiology from top equine professionals.
  • A glossary of medical and equine health terms to help you understand and communicate better with other horse professionals, and your veterinarian.

Much more is planned for this site, and we would like your input and feedback as we go.

We feel that 1996 is going to be an exciting year of growth in the equine industry. The tool that horse owners will use the most in making progress toward whatever goals they have planned with their horses is education.

Our resolution here is to be the best source of equine health information for the professional horse owner,
bar none!

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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