After spending more than two weeks at the U.S. Department of Agriculture quarantine center at the Miami International Airport due to a positive glanders test, dressage horse Sagacious HF was declared healthy and returned home to Wellington, Fla., on Aug. 24.
Sagacious tested positive for glanders on two complement fixation tests when he returned from Europe on Aug. 8, but after his rider Chase Hickok and owner Al Guden brought in lawyer Chapman Hopkins, they were able to get permission from the USDA to test the 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Welt Hit II—Judith, Cocktail) using the Western Blot test.
The gelding was negative on the Western Blot on Aug. 23 and was able to go home. Hickok, 27, said she’s excited and relieved to have him home and looks forward to getting him back into work after he relaxes and gets back into his routine at home.
“He went for a nice long walk yesterday evening, and he was feeling rather good about himself. We’ve got our work cut out for us the next couple of days!” she said.
Hickok said she didn’t have any specific plans for competing this fall and plans to use the time to regroup and do some homework before the winter season.
“I’ve been contacted by so many people that have had similar stories, some with the same outcome, some with not such a good outcome,” she said. “We’ve learned [false positive glanders tests are] way more prevalent and way more common than we ever thought. We’re hopeful that between all of us that have gone through this experience we can try and make some changes and reexamine the protocol.
“It’s the emotional burden, the financial burden. It’s such a stressful experience, and I really hope we can hope to effect some change to this and help to streamline the procedures and make it not such a confusing and scary and devastating process for so many people,” she added.
For a look at the testing procedures and USDA policies regarding glanders, look for an in-depth story in the Sept. 18 Fall Horse Care issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.