Veterinary Preparations for Hong Kong Equestrian Events

Christopher M. Riggs, BVSc, PhD, DEO, Dipl. ECVS, MRCVS, Head of Veterinary Clinical Services at the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), reported on the veterinary arrangements for the forthcoming Games at a pre-Olympic Workshop held by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Feb. 17 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A core team of 11 international veterinarians will be augmented by others from mainland China and from the HKJC Department of Veterinary Clinical Services for the cross-country phase of the Eventing discipline. In addition, a group of eight senior students/graduates will provide support in the Olympic Veterinary Clinic with technical back-up from HKJC staff. Ian Hughes leads the group of six official farriers who will provide support to team farriers.

The purpose-built Olympic Veterinary Clinic constructed at the core venue in Sha Tin is equipped with a range of diagnostic and treatment facilities including two examination rooms, two holding stables, a wash/cooling bay, a breezeway, dispensary, and main office/reception area. Emergency services will be available 24 hours daily and the office will normally open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., while on competition days the hours will extend to 30 minutes after the last horse has finished. Event Treating Veterinarians will offer a range of services, and seven dedicated treatment areas are available to Team Veterinarians in the veterinary compound.

The facilities and staff of the HKJC's Equine Hospital will be on 24-hour standby. The Hospital, which is located approximately 3kms (1.86 miles) from the core venue, has an operating theatre and full anesthetic equipment. The facility is designed to cater for most major equine surgical requirements. Veterinary care will also be provided at the isolation stables located at both the core venue and Happy Valley Racecourse. The Olympic Veterinary Clinic will house a pharmacy, and the HKJC laboratory will provide pathology services at commercial rates.

A dedicated Medication Control Program sample collection facility for horses will be located near the stables and main training areas.

At Beas River cross-country venue, a temporary veterinary clinic will be located near the stable compound with facilities for emergency care. Any horse requiring further treatment will be transported back to the Olympic Veterinary Hospital or the HKJC Hospital as required.

There will be six veterinary teams located at each of the sector headquarters on the cross-county course while three roving teams will provide further support and mobile cooling units will be stationed at strategic locations with an ample supply of ice and water at hold-points on the course. A total of eight horse ambulances and four recovery trailers will be available during the cross-country competition, and horse ambulances will be on stand-by at all venues during training and competition. Cooling facilities during training and competition include the use of misting tents capable of holding several horses simultaneously which are chilled by rows of misting fans, and chilled water and ice which will be available in each tent. All stables will be air-conditioned with the temperature set at around 23° C (73.4° F) to assist recovery after exercise.

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