Dales Pony Show cancelled due to outbreak of equine flu
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
A SUMMER show for Teesdale’s iconic pony breed has been cancelled due to an increasing number of confirmed cases of equine influenza in the northern region.
The Dales Pony Society Summer Breed Show was set to take place on Saturday, August, 3, at Streatlam Farm, near Barnard Castle, despite an outbreak of the infectious respiratory disease earlier in the year.
Organisers had taken the stance to run both their spring and summer breed shows without mandatory flu vaccinations being required.
But they did “strongly recommend” all ponies attending were vaccinated and stated owners of any ponies displaying any signs of coughing or illness would be asked to remove them immediately.
The policy was reviewed at a council meeting in July following information from the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) that the flu outbreak was worsening, particularly in “northern areas following Appleby Fair”.
A majority decision by the council was to leave the policy unchanged as the schedule for the summer show had already gone out.
However in a statement on Tuesday, July 23, chairwoman of the council for the Dales Pony Society, Anne Alderson, announced the decision to cancel the show.
She said: “It is due to the increasing number of equine flu cases in northern areas and subsequent strong feeling among members and others that unvaccinated ponies should not attend.”
She added: “It is now too late to introduce an effective mandatory vaccination policy and the society has been left with no option but to regretfully cancel the event.”
She confirmed all competitors entered for the show will receive a full refund in due course.
The Horse of the Year Show breed qualifying class has been moved to the Performance Show, which will take place at West Park Arena, Tow Law, on August 25, at 1.30pm.
The judges will remain as Brian Williams for ride and Ernest Coulthard for conformation.
Ms Alderson said: “All entrants will be contacted to check if they still wish to compete.
“All ponies at this even must be vaccinated on a 12 month basis.”
Equine influenza is a highly infectious disease of horses caused by strains of influenza A virus. It is the most potentially damaging of the respiratory viruses that occur in UK horses. Symptoms include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge.
The total number of confirmed outbreaks of equine influenza has now exceeded 200 this year, compared to just two in 2018.