Horse welfare, biosecurity and transportation discussed within the context of China during the fifth session of Asia Horse Week
The Asia Horse Week continued to steam ahead at full pace on the second morning of the event. They did not hold back on the proceedings, with the day kicking off with a revealing session looking into horse security and welfare.
The director Peden Bloodstock, Mrs. Fiona McCormack, VetMB MRCVS, opened with an introduction to her long-established equine transportation and logistics company. She drew light on what it takes to move horses around the world and explained the multifaceted system behind it. “We instil in our team, in our stakeholders and the authorities that we are working with that the welfare of the horses is absolutely paramount,” she said.
She also discussed the global distribution of equestrianism and explained how she is trying to open new areas for horse sport. “We all know there has been an exponential growth in our sport and we are moving horses now to more locations across the globe,” she commented. She added that she is working with her company to encourage the global growth of the sport. They are making efforts to get the correct logistics in place to keep horses moving and keep them on top of the competition schedule.
The Head of Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Quarantine Department, Dr. Brian Stewart, elaborated on the logistical procedures behind horse transportation with a review of his club’s new Conghua Training Centre in Guangzhou. In December 2017, the Hong Kong SAR and Chinese Mainland authorities signed four memoranda to create a special biosecurity zone in the Conghua District, which is the only internationally-recognised Equine Disease Free Zone in the Chinese Mainland.
The Conghua Training Centre will officially open in August 2018 and help develop the sport in China, but it was many years in the making. “We needed to create systems, build liaisons with government authorities, and make something that was not possible before, happen,” Dr. Brian Stewart commented. Defining it as a quarantined training ground, he raised the importance of education and biosecurity.
“Anyone working in the field has to be aware of the consequences and biosecurity should be a second nature part of their job,” he said. He added that although there is not a wide awareness of the importance of biosecurity in China, they should be able to develop this. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” he summarised.
Another key figure from the Hong Kong Jockey Club expanded on the issue of biosecurity training later in the session. Dr. Chris Riggs, BVSc, PhD, DEO, DipECVS, MRCVS Head of Veterinarian HKJC, said everyone has a fundamental responsibility to look after horses, and everyone in the industry should work together to provide advice on horse nutrition and medicine, and develop better equipment. He explained that although China is buying more horses from around the world and has aspirations to achieve world standards, the country still has a long way to go. “There is a significant lack of equine veterinary expertise within China and a dearth of facilities in which to treat horses,” he said, adding that there is only one equine operating theatre in the whole of China.
A clinician with the Hong Kong Jockey Club wrapped up the session by providing the audience with an inside look at the Longines Masters. Dr. Adrian Farrington BVSc, MRCVS – Team Vet, showed how they protect biosecurity at such events and what goes on behind the scenes.
At the end of the session, the speakers’ answered question from the audience, and the status of the equestrian industry in China was a key topic. Mrs. Fiona McCormack, revealed that, aside from Liège airport, Shanghai was one of the best airports in the world for transporting horses – but this was only thanks to a long process of learning which she herself had been a key instigator of. The speakers all agreed that while China has a long way to go, there are already major initiatives in place which will help develop the industry.