Healthy horses at events

To minimise the risk of spreading infectious disease, it remains vital that event organisers and participants follow the good biosecurity guidelines implemented during the successful equine influenza eradication campaign in Australia in 2007-08.

Recommendations for event organisers

Prepare and implement a biosecurity plan

Biosecurity is about taking precautions to minimise the risk of introducing infectious diseases into an animal or plant population.

A biosecurity plan should include:

  • provision for a veterinarian to be on call during the event
  • a method of making emergency phone calls or alternative communication
  • a plan to minimise public access to stable areas
  • separate vehicle parking for competitors and spectators
  • single entry and exit to grounds
  • adequate hand-washing facilities
  • a designated isolation area (or stable) for sick horses
  • good hygiene practice between horses that is supported by officials and stewards (e.g. gear check)
  • a contingency plan if stock standstill (lockdown) is declared.

Keep the required records

Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, event organisers must keep records of each horse that has attended their event. These records can be kept in any format (including electronic records) as long as they can be produced if requested by an inspector under the Act and must be kept for 2 years.

Horse health declarations used as an entry condition may meet this requirement as long as all the necessary details are recorded. These declarations could be copied as competitors enter the grounds and kept by the organiser.

Details that must be captured are:

  • where the horses/s came from
  • when they arrived at the event
  • a description of the horse/s including species, breed and any distinguishing feature sufficient to identify the horse/s
  • the date of movement
  • the person completing the record
  • where the horses/s are being moved to and the name of the person receiving the horse/s when they leave the event

Recommendations for competitors

Primary responsibility for biosecurity at horse events lies with horse owners and competitors long before the event takes place.

Practise good biosecurity

  • Practise good hygiene and decontaminate equipment thoroughly.
  • Do not share equipment, including food and water containers, between horses.
  • Avoid use of communal water troughs.
  • If using communal hoses, avoid touching buckets when filling with water to avoid spreading disease from bucket to bucket.

Monitor horse health

  • Do not take sick horses to an event.
  • Notify an event official if a horse is suspected of being sick.
  • Isolate the sick horse and seek veterinary advice.
  • Isolate any equipment that has been in contact with the sick horse.