Equine Canada will join over 60 government representatives and veterinary and horse sport experts from 23 countries in Panama City from
the 11-13 of December for a summit on the international movement of horses.
The talks have been convened by the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) at a time when participation in equestrian sport has reached a record high in South America, and with the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games on the horizon.
They will centre on finding a solution to current import and export procedures, which do not take into consideration the lower risks of “high-health” sport horses, and which are restricting the growth of top-level equestrian sport in the region.
This year, over 300 equestrian events governed by the FEI have taken place in South America, with worldwide competitions growing by 27 per cent since 2008 to more than 3,000 a year. The clock is also ticking towards Rio 2016, when in just 1,333 days South America will host its first Olympic and Paralympic Equestrian competitions. The experts heading to Panama City will focus on updating their current biosecurity protocols, which exist to protect animal and human populations against the risk of disease spread, in order to allow “high-health, high performance” sport horses to travel safely and swiftly across borders. ”Horse sport in South America already has a huge economic impact, creating tens of thousands of jobs and sustaining many industries associated with the sport,” explained HRH Princess Haya, FEI President and OIE Goodwill Ambassador, ahead of the talks. ”In the run up to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, there will be several thousand more equestrian events across South America but to sustain and promote this growth, horses must be able to move without difficulty across borders to compete while we ensure biosecurity protocols are adhered to.”
Canada will be represented at the summit by Vel Evans, Equine Canada Industry consultant, and Dr. Mary Bell, a practising veterinarian and chair of the Equine Canada Health and Welfare committee.
“This meeting is held in response to the growing importance, prominence and frequency of international equestrian competitions,” said Dr. Bell. “It is held in an effort to harmonize the regulatory health requirements for horses entering a country on a temporary basis to compete and then returning to its country of origin.”
“In the case of Canada, success of this initiative should smooth the way for horses competing in the Pan-Am games in 2015 in Toronto, ON. It will be of value for FEI competitions in Canada and for Canadian horses competing in FEI competitions throughout the Americas,” added Dr. Bell.
The OIE and FEI organized a joint conference during the Pan American Games in Guadalajara (MEX) in 2011, focusing on the international movement of horses. They have since worked with a global network of government, veterinary and horse sport specialists to help improve the movement of high-health, high-performance sport horses. ”We are looking forward to welcoming the region’s best animal health and horse sport experts to Panama City,” continued HRH Princess Haya. “Together, we will establish a better system that works for everyone before Rio 2016 and that will ensure that horse sport continues to flourish in the region.”
About the OIE
For further information on the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), its principles and objectives, please visit: www.oie.int.
About the FEI
The International Equestrian Federation (FEI), founded in 1921, is the international body governing equestrian sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The FEI is the sole controlling authority for all international events in Dressage & Para-Dressage, Jumping, Eventing, Driving & Para-Driving, Endurance, Vaulting, and Reining. For further information, please visit www.fei.org.