Desert International Horse Park Closed To New Arrivals

Feb 19, 2022 - 9:12 AM

On Friday, Feb. 18, a day after confirmation of a fourth EHV-1 case in a second barn on the property, Desert International Horse Park officials announced the Thermal, California, venue will not allow any additional horses on the property. It will continue to run its planned shows, but in a modified, smaller format with no FEI classes.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close access to new arrivals at the horse park for at least the next week,” a Friday press release from the horse park stated. “As of this notice, we are not allowing any additional horses on the property. We have reached out to those individuals with horses that are currently in transit and we will accommodate those who are continuing to make their way to the horse park. We also will no longer allow any daily haul-in horses and riders to come to the horse park until further notice.”

Regarding the decision to allow modified showing to continue for people and non-quarantined horses already on the property, the horse park said:

“With a smaller show, we can spread out the rings to minimize congregation of horses and the potential for nose-to-nose contact. We will issue a revised schedule over the weekend, but we do know for sure that we will not run FEI next week. In the end, we have decided to have a smaller horse show for the horses on the property, as opposed to cancel the show completely.”

The U.S. Equestrian Federation issued a statement in support of the horse park’s decision, and both organizations encouraged those with horses already on the property to keep them there.

“Obviously, while it would be preferable that non-quarantined horses stay on the property to allow for the additional time needed to monitor and limit the potential spread of EHV-1 further, we completely understand customers’ decision to leave,” the horse park statement said.

Caretakers of horses who are or have been on the property are asked to follow USEF and California Department of Food and Agricultural bio-security guidelines for isolating and monitoring temperatures to reduce the chance of spread.

“No doubt we are as disappointed and concerned as everyone with the emergence of EHV-1 on the property,” horse park CEO Steve Hankin said in the Friday statement. “Each time we send out a test and wait for results or pick up the phone and learn of another sick horse, as happened [Thursday] night, my heart sinks. Unfortunately, like with COVID, we have learned that we can’t wish it away. We have also learned that there are things each of us can do to help reduce the risk of outbreaks. We are committed to do our part now and in the future to share and inform everyone of the important best practices we can each adopt for the safety of our horses.”

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