Foot and Mouth Disease: Restrictions on U.K. Horse Trainers Relaxed

The movement of horses to and from the United Kingdom hasn't been affected by the recent small outbreak of foot and mouth disease at two farms in Surrey in southern England. Providing the correct certification has been completed, overseas-trained runners can continue to compete in races in Great Britain.

Restrictions placed on certain trainers in the affected area, imposed following the outbreak, were relaxed as of Aug. 13.

The stables that fell within a 10-kilometer surveillance zone, near the two farms where the disease was found, had been warned by the British Horseracing Authority, under guidance from the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), that they wouldn't be able to ship horses to any race meets at home or abroad. However, with authorities believing the disease to be contained, trainers in the surveillance zone are now free to run their horses, providing they carry out the necessary biosecurity measures when transporting them to the racecourse.

Restrictions on trainers within the current three-kilometer protection zones in Surrey, remain in place. Although horses cannot be infected by foot and mouth disease, they can carry the virus on their hooves, skin, hair, and possibly in their nasal passages.

A serious outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom in 2001 devastated the farming community. It led to more than seven million animals being culled and cost the agricultural industry an estimated £8 billion ($16 billion). The 2001 Cheltenham Festival, the highest profile race meet for steeplechase horses in Great Britain, had to be abandoned following the 2001 outbreak.

It is thought the source of the latest outbreak was the Institute for Animal Health's Pirbright laboratory site in Surrey, used by vaccine manufacturer Merial.

(Originally published at

About the Author

Mark Popham

Mark Popham also writes for The Blood-Horse, sister magazine to The Horse.

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