The joint World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) and FEI conference focusing on modernising the conditions of movement of horses within South America has called for the removal of outdated or unjustified import and export barriers that are stifling the growth of equestrian sport.
The need for greater understanding of the health certification and quarantine requirements for horses competing at national and international levels was also highlighted at the conference, which was held last week in Guadalajara (MEX) during the Pan American Games and attended by 80 government ministers, international veterinarians and other specialists.
Speakers from the OIE, government representatives from South America and the FEI tackled the justification of some of the current restrictions imposed on healthy competition horses when travelling between South American countries, and the impact this is having on the development of equestrian sport across the region.
The conference closed with a unanimous agreement for a series of initial recommendations to be made by the OIE, its member countries, the FEI and its National Federations in the Americas that will help to achieve the necessary changes.
“The objectives of the OIE are now more important to the world than ever,” said HRH Princess Haya, FEI President in a video message broadcast at the conference.
“The rapid expansion of horse sport in South America is being reflected around the world.
“In the Americas particularly horse sport has grown swiftly from national to international level and this requires the increased movement of horses across borders in order to compete.
“In 2016, Rio de Janeiro will host the Olympic Games and we are now in a race against time to find an improvement to the current situation in the Americas.
“The FEI fully agrees with the OIE that sanitary measures and periods of quarantine must be applied in a reasoned manner that is proportional to the risk and we are all now looking forward to finding clear, easily understood and harmonised solutions and reducing confusing and sometimes conflicting bureaucratic demands.
“My greatest hope is that this conference will put the Americas on the road to applying a factual, risk- and science-based approach and that together we will find a practical, effective and quick solution to this issue.”
With the mandate to improve animal health and welfare worldwide, the OIE is recognised as the reference standard-setting organisation for the international movement of animals including horses by the World Trade Organisation.
“Improving the movement of horses while ensuring their safety and health is essential to the continued expansion of horse sport in South America,” said OIE Representative Dr Gardner Murray.
“This landmark joint FEI and OIE conference has brought together key stakeholders to address the issues at regional and global level as equestrian sport and competition is seeing massive growth across the region.
“There has been a clear call for a more reasoned approach to health certification complying with OIE standards and guidelines and the early recommendations from the conference must be acted on swiftly, so that changes can be made well before the Olympic Games in Rio.”