Meadville Tribune

Opinion

March 6, 2009

local column: Fair’s new ‘health regulations’ could be the death of its quality horse shows

By Shauna Bogardus

New health regulations (including flu vaccinations and health inspections) for the horses to be exhibited at the Crawford County Fair have a great number of people upset. Showing horses at the fair is an expensive proposition anyway, but the changes that are coming at us are going to make it far more expensive.

Some of the fees we pay to be at the fair inevitably go up each year, but the new health requirements will most likely cost close to $200 per horse depending on which services a person uses. The fair’s Horse and Pony Committee has also informed us that we will have to bring our own bedding for the animals for the week, so that will be another additional expense.

First, let’s be clear about why the fair board implemented the “new” requirements for horses at the Crawford County Fair. It has much more to do with the fact that these vaccinations and tests are being required by the state than concern for horse health in the county. Our governor has cut the amount of funding available to the county fairs by half, and if the fair board does not enforce the state regulations, our fair will not be eligible for any of the funds. So this is actually more of a money issue than a health issue.

Now let’s look at the requirements, most certainly a relationship with a veterinarian is a good thing for horse owners, so there is not much of a problem with that. The fact that all horses must have a certificate issued within 30 days of the opening day of the fair may present a problem for the veterinarians as there were as many as 500 horses just in the saddle horse and pony department and there were approximately 100 draft horses exhibited last year. So scheduling the examinations of these horses for this certification may be a logistical nightmare. Even greater will be the problem of getting all of these horses unloaded at the fair, when they may not be taken off a trailer until a vet has cleared them. If the weather is hot, which it usually is at fair time, horses are going to be stressed just waiting to get off a trailer. And how thorough can a vet be when trying to examine that many horses in the space of two days?

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