The Interscholastic Equestrian League’s (IEL) Sunday, Dec. 11 show date was cancelled on Tuesday, Nov. 29 as the result of a quarantine imposed to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious equine herpes virus, and then again on Tuesday, Jan. 10, due to poor weather in Los Angeles. Their new show date is Sunday, Feb. 12.
According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the equine herpes virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct horse-to-horse contact, as well as indirectly through contact with contaminated human clothing or equipment.
The disease causes fevers, lethargy and, in severe cases, seizures or paralysis. The first cases were discovered at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank on Thursday, Nov. 3 in two horses, according to the Equine Disease Communication Center.
Equestrian head advisor and Honors Research in Science Program Head Dr. Elizabeth Ashforth said that, though horses can get vaccinated, riders want to be cautious about potential exposure to the disease.
“You don’t want this kind of disease getting around the community. You’ve got to contain it. It’s a neurological disease and horses… really suffer. It did affect us in the first show because we had a couple of riders who ride at the Equestrian Center, and their trainers put themselves in quarantine for the first show at the end of October, so they couldn’t train. We lost points there because they’re very good riders, but moving forward, it shouldn’t [affect us],” Ashforth said.
However, even with the diminished threat of disease after the quarantine period, riders were still unable to compete because league officials cancelled the most recent show out of concern for rider safety in the rainy conditions.
Alex Vizents ’18, who rides at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, said that the show’s postponement was for the best.
“I would rather it be postponed and not have to ride in really bad footing, which is really dangerous for the horses. It does kind of affect our training because we have to prepare for shows,” Vizents said.
Despite the training issues caused by both the rain and the quarantine, Ashforth said she hopes that the team will keep their first place lead going into the last shows of the season