Equestrian sport’s governing body in Australia has brought in new controls outlining Hendra vaccination requirement for horses attending Equestrian Australia (EA) and FEI-sanctioned events across the country.
Equestrian Australia says it has a responsibility to its members, horses, event organising committees and venues to take reasonable steps to protect equine and human health. It was that responsibility which led to its national board adopting a new bylaw covering Hendra.
The bylaw came into effect on July 1, but implementation will occur from October 1 to allow event organisers and owners/riders an opportunity to comply with its requirements.
The new rule makes it a requirement for organising committees of EA and FEI events to complete a questionnaire during initial planning stages to determine if their event requires classification as a Hendra Vaccinated Event (HVE).
The assessment requires event organisers to answer a series of multiple choice questions about the location and duration of the event, the number of horses in attendance, how the horses will be stabled and the impact on the facilities should a Hendra outbreak occur.
If the result of the checklist is equal to a score of 50 or more, then event organisers will need to classify their event as a HVE.
There will be one checklist used by all event organisers regardless of the state in which their event is held, but the location will determine if all or only some of the attending horses require vaccination.
The bylaw divides Australia into two regions – endemic and non-endemic – with different requirements for each.
Events graded as a HVE within the states of New South Wales and Queensland, which the by-law defines as the endemic region, will require all attending horses to be Hendra vaccinated.
Events that carry a HVE classification within Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the territories of NT and ACT, which the by-law defines as the non-endemic region, will require horses travelling only from the endemic region to be Hendra vaccinated.
EA chief executive Grant Baldock said the rule offered a practical approach to reducing Hendra risk at events.
“To date, Hendra incidents have only occurred within the states of New South Wales and Queensland,” he said.
“While this does not mean that a Hendra incident could not occur in another state in the future, the likelihood of a Hendra incident occurring at an EA event is higher in New South Wales and Queensland.
“For this reason all horses attending a HVE within New South Wales or Queensland, regardless of their origin, will require Hendra vaccination.
“If your horse resides in another state and you don’t travel to NSW or QLD for a HVE event then your horse will not require Hendra vaccination. Only horses which leave these states and attend a NSW or QLD HVE will require vaccination.”
Baldock said a range of resources had been developed to assist event organisers and riders and owners understand the Hendra vaccination bylaw and checklist.
“It is important to note the bylaw places the majority of onus and responsibility on horse owners and riders to ensure they are complying.
“All riders are encouraged to check the HVE status and entry requirements of events they are attending from October 1 and all members are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Hendra vaccination bylaw.
“The national board has indicated that a review of the checklist will occur within three months and the by-law will be reviewed as required. It is important that there is flexibility to update the by-law and checklist as new information comes to hand,” he said.