Dear Desert Horse Park competitors,
From the beginning, we have always maintained a strong stance: act in the best interest of our horses. It is the benefit of having the owners of the horse park all as horse owners. Nearly every conversation that we have as partners is prefaced with our commitment to our stance on horses first. With the beginning of the second half of Desert Circuit upon us, and record crowds anticipated, the question is, “What is in the best interest of our horses when we still have an active EHV-1 infection at the horse park?”
The guidance and wishes of the leadership and veterinary team at USEF, our veterinary team on the ground at East-West, and the veterinary team at California Department of Food and Agriculture is to “stay put and hunker down.” Everyone would prefer we not add to the population of horses on the grounds at the moment. Everyone would prefer that the folks here do not get on the road and add to any potential spread of EHV-1 and add to the stress on the horses. Everyone recognizes that horses need to be exercised, including asymptomatic horses in quarantine.
Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close access to new arrivals at the horse park for at least the next week. As of this notice, we are not allowing any additional horses on the property. We have reached out to those individuals with horses that are currently in transit and we will accommodate those who are continuing to make their way to the horse park. We also will no longer allow any daily haul-in horses and riders to come to the horse park until further notice.
We have been approved to run a modified horse show for the people who are on the property already. With a smaller show, we can spread out the rings to minimize congregation of horses and the potential for nose-to-nose contact. We will issue a revised schedule over the weekend, but we do know for sure that we will not run FEI next week. In the end, we have decided to have a smaller horse show for the horses on the property, as opposed to cancel the show completely.
Obviously, while it would be preferable that non-quarantined horses stay on the property to allow for the additional time needed to monitor and limit the potential spread of EHV-1 further, we completely understand customers’ decision to leave. And we will welcome you back when you deem it safe to be here. We would strongly encourage anyone who decides to leave to follow the recommended bio-security guidelines of USEF and CDFA and segregate their horses for seven days and continue to do temperature checks twice a day during this period.
No doubt we are as disappointed and concerned as everyone with the emergence of EHV-1 on the property. Each time we send out a test and wait for results or pick up the phone and learn of another sick horse, as happened last night, my heart sinks. Unfortunately, like with COVID, we have learned that we can’t wish it away. We have also learned that there are things each of us can do to help reduce the risk of outbreaks. We are committed to do our part now and in the future to share and inform everyone of the important best practices we can each adopt for the safety of our horses.
We continue to collaborate non-stop with the team from CDFA and USEF. We will provide a follow-up email after the results of yesterday’s tests results become available later today. As always, we appreciate your continued patience and support during this challenging time and hope you understand the path we are taking. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.