Bio-security is something we’ve always taken very seriously and with the announcement this morning that Equine Influenza had been detected in the racing population it is an issue that is more relevant than ever.
The issues with Equine Influenza have been building up quietly in the background for a while now. As a yard a few weeks ago the decision was made together with our veterinary team at Baker McVeigh to upgrade our vaccination protocols.
We already take many measures to prevent the risk of infection and disease it is part and parcel of providing a quality environment for horses to develop in. Examples include every stable being disinfected at least once a week as is the horse-walker, tack room and feed room. Each horse has its own bridle, and all saddle towels are washed in disinfectant washing powder every day to ensure that the risk of cross contamination with tack is minimised. There are disinfectant soap dispensers located around the yard, to be used between handling different horses. Temperatures are taken regularly to monitor for the earliest signs of a problem.
Taking horses to and from the races is always a potential source of infection as they come into contact with horses that are not part of their usual environment. Added to this the effort of a race can lower the immune system and leave horses susceptible to infection. Whilst every effort is made to provide good ventilation in horse boxes they simply can’t match the quality of airflow our state of the art stables provide at Sarsen Farm. Our horse box is steam washed and disinfected after each journey. We do not share transport to the races with horses from other yards, despite the potential savings. The considerable time spent in the same confined airspace is a risk not worth taking with horses from outside the herd.
STEPS WE ARE TAKING
Daniel’s first job this morning was to discuss with each team member in detail the potential risks of contamination from other yards, they might visit or use for their own horses and discuss measures with them to minimise these risks. We also re-iterated the protocols we already have in place with the team.
We also had chats with our veterinary team who are travelling to other yards and have put in place procedures to avoid cross contamination. Our experienced farrier Steve Body who also shoes at Shadwell’s private training yard just outside the village was briefed upon arrival. He has always been meticulous about hygiene in any case and has set himself up with different clothing for both yards.
Grace our office manager, who grew up on a farm during the Foot and Mouth Outbreak was quick to arrange foot baths for those entering the yard, order more thermometers so that all horses could be checked twice daily and she also produced guidelines to be distributed amongst the team.
The Lambourn Gallops team manager Will Riggall has been in discussion with BHA to create gallop operating procedures to ensure the safest possible conditions for everyone in the Lambourn training community. Horses from outside the village are temporarily unable to come for training until the threat is fully understood.
For us quality horsemanship extends to every facet of caring for horses. Hygiene is as vital as the great balance of work rider aboard a galloping thoroughbred, and the patient kind development of a younger. Success is the result of all these and many more facets of horsemanship coming together. Tomorrow will no doubt bring about more developments and we will have to analyse the situation further with our veterinary team.