Wellington Turns Out for Virus Meeting; Byars Offers Expert Advice and Praise

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Several hundred people found their way to the Jockey Club in Wellington, Florida today to hear Stadium Jumping chief executive Gene Mische introduce distinguished equine medical expert Doug Byars DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC of Lexington, Kentucky.

Byars was brought to Wellington as an independent consultant by two show-specialist veterinarians, John Steele of New York and Ben Schachter of Lake Worth, Florida. With them, the Kentucky veterinarian toured the area, met with officials, and then reported his findings to the large gathering of horsepeople and veterinarians.

No major news came out of today's meetings, but several key points were reiterated.

According to a quick summary received from impromptu reporter Sandy Johnson on the scene, the chief items reported by Byars and the horse show organizers were:

1. In Byars' opinion, (the state of) "Florida has done a very good job containing the outbreak";

2. Major horse shows should be able to begin as soon as January 12th (Littlewood Farm) and January 24th (Stadium Jumping);

3. Wellington's trail system, which links many properties and is used by competitors to "hack" to the shows from their home barns, will reopen by the estimated date of January 10;

4. Stadium Jumping's showgrounds and barns are accepting incoming horses, with health and vaccination documentation required. The requirements for the Winter Equestrian Festival are listed at http://www.stadiumjumping.com/sj/index.cfm

5. A portion of the quarantine area has been relocated to a polo field; it will house quarantined horses moved from the Palm Beach Equestrian Sports Complex, on the other side of the road.

Sandy reported that security is tight around the new quarantine zone.

I asked her about manure removal in the village. Manure removal from the farms and the showgrounds is always a controversial topic from the environmental standpoint, but equine public health may factor into the current manure disposal protocols. Sandy said that she saw three manure trucks today, and that all three were covered, which is not always the case in Wellington. No confirmation of how or if manure is being removed from specific quarantine areas or showgrounds, but the State of Florida has published explicit manure removal policies to be followed. (To view these directions on the State of Florida's web site; go to http://www.doacs.state.fl.us/ai/ehv1/manure_bedding_protocol.shtml)

Thanks to Sandy Johnson for fighting the crowds and reporting in!

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