Fears for our horses’ health over lack of bor­der checks

Horse & Hound - - News Insider - By ELEANOR JONES LITTA SOHI

THE lack of bor­der checks on equine doc­u­ments is caus­ing a po­ten­tial health and se­cu­rity risk, ex­perts have warned.

Un­der EU law, although horses must have ap­pro­pri­ate pa­per­work when mov­ing between mem­ber states, there is no le­gal re­quire­ment for it to be checked.

In­ter­na­tional Ira­nian dres­sage rider Litta So­heila Sohi, who is based with Olympian Spencer Wil­ton and trav­els abroad reg­u­larly, was sur­prised that nei­ther her pa­per­work nor the in­te­rior of her lorry was checked on ei­ther leg of a re­cent trip.

“I go abroad about once a month and it’s not the first time they haven’t checked, but it’s the first time no one’s asked both ways,” she told H&H.

Litta was tak­ing her horse Air FK to com­pete at Sau­mur CDI3* on 20 Septem­ber on this most re­cent trip, and she only re­alised when she got to France that she had not brought his pass­port.

She paid £160 for a courier to take it from the UK to the event, where it was checked, but she did not need it on ei­ther jour­ney.

“Ev­ery time I go abroad, I pay for my ex­port papers, the dif­fer­ent cer­tifi­cates you need to take a horse out­side the UK, I go with all these tons of pa­per­work,” she said. “The only thing [the bor­der of­fi­cial] wanted to know was whether I had a work­ing fan.

“I only had one horse in the lorry but I could have had stolen grand prix horses too — I could have taken [Spencer’s Rio ride] Su­per­nova II and just never come back. I thought it was in­cred­i­ble.”

Litta said the in­ci­dent flagged health and se­cu­rity con­cerns.

“They didn’t even look in the lorry,” she said. “It’s 26 tonnes; I could have had 200 im­mi­grants in the back.

“You do so much to take horses abroad, pay for all the papers, and then think: ‘What was all that about, no one even looked at it’. With all the ter­ror at­tacks, you’d think they would be more care­ful, not to men­tion the fact they didn’t even check to see if it was a horse who’d had his vac­ci­na­tions.”

'NOT SUR­PRIS­ING'

WORLD Horse Wel­fare chief ex­ec­u­tive Roly Ow­ers said it was “not sur­pris­ing” no checks were made on Litta’s lorry as “a grand prix dres­sage rider would likely be com­pli­ant with the leg­is­la­tion”.

“What is con­cern­ing how­ever, is the lack of checks over­all and this is some­thing on which we have been cam­paign­ing for a num­ber of years,” he said.

“There needs to be a sys­tem of in­tel­li­gence-led checks at our ports to pro­tect the health and wel­fare of these horses and the UK horse pop­u­la­tion.”

Jon Py­cock, pres­i­dent of the Bri­tish Eques­trian Vet­eri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion, agreed with the oth­ers’ con­cerns but be­lieves there is po­ten­tial to im­prove the sys­tem.

“Bor­der checks on pa­per­work are not man­dated and with­out in­tel­li­gence-led health checks this pro­vides a po­ten­tial health risk and is cause for con­cern,” he told H&H. “But there is the po­ten­tial to en­hance biose­cu­rity checks at UK ports fol­low­ing Brexit.”

A De­fra spokesman said: “Un­der the Tri­par­tite Agree­ment (TPA) cer­tain horses can move freely between the UK and France, in­clud­ing horses reg­is­tered with the FEI. Horses com­pet­ing at FEI events must be of a vac­ci­na­tion stan­dard set by the FEI.

“Horses not qual­i­fy­ing un­der TPA must be ac­com­pa­nied by a health cer­tifi­cate and in­spected by a vet be­fore de­par­ture. Ran­dom checks on these an­i­mals com­ing into the UK are un­der­taken by the An­i­mal and Plant Health Agency.”

‘I could have stolen Su­per­nova II

and just never come back’

Horses trav­el­ling across bor­ders have to have pass­ports but these do not have to be checked

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