Friday, February 08, 2019

'Lockdown' - again!!

It's happened again - we're in 'lockdown'!!  It's actually not a big deal at all on this occasion, unlike the previous time three years ago when it really was a major inconvenience.  On that occasion a misdiagnosis by a vet (not our usual vet, I hasten to add - we use NEH, but the owner of one horse in the stable preferred to have his horse seen by a different practice, and a vet from that practice visited the horse and gave the opinion that the horse might have EHV, which turned out not to be the case) caused us to be shut down for three weeks because the protocol, apparently, is that if a vet suspects that a horse might have EHV, irrespective of whether that suspicion is proved correct and irrespective of how short a period he might harbour this suspicion, the premises is put into lockdown until all the horses have been tested and then re-tested a week later and all the tests have come back negative, and the minimum period is three weeks.

That was very annoying indeed.  Our own vet came later that day and gave the opinion that the other vet's suspicion was unfounded; and then the vet who had caused all the trouble gave the opinion two days later that he had almost certainly got it wrong.  But the wheels were already in motion, and apparently once they were in motion the whole process had to run its course uninterruptedly.  Still, that's all water under the bridge, and life has gone on, as it usually does.  (I'm over it, honestly.  And I don't bear grudges!).

On this basis, I couldn't really understand how we had got into the situation that British racing currently finds itself.  We'd been receiving warnings from the BHA that EI was in the country and that we should be extra vigilant.  Donald McCain clearly has done everything by the book (as one would expect from one of the most conscientious people I know) and, as soon as he and his vet observed symptoms in three horses which might suggest EI, had sent swabs off for testing.  What I couldn't understand was that in our case with EHV, we had been put into lockdown the second a vet said that he suspected the disease might be there, but that clearly hadn't happened with Donald, who was only put into lockdown once the test results came back positive.

Anyway, it transpires that the EHV protocol does not apply to EI, and that the EI protocol was followed to the letter.  It's just a pity that we have only discovered now that it is the case that, if a trainer has a runner and it is subsequently found that he had a horse with EI in his stable at the time, then racing is shut down.  We know that now, so hopefully this situation won't occur again, as the next time a trainer finds himself in the situation Donald was in, he'll hang back from running anything for the day or two it takes for the test results to come back and confirm whether the horse under suspicion does or does not have the disease.  I can guarantee that if Donald had known what the consequences of running those horses would turn out to be (ie that British racing would grind to a halt) there is no way he would have run them.  There (probably/presumably) are trainers who sail close to the wind, but Donald isn't one of them.

So here we are: having an easy day!  The Rocket Park ran in the first race at Ludlow on Wednesday and Donald had a runner in the last, so we find ourselves being one of the 100+ stables who were competing at either Wolverhampton on Monday or at Ludlow or Ayr on Wednesday and who thus have to keep our horses away from everyone else's until every horse on the property has been tested for EI and returned a negative swab.  This means that we have not exercised any horse this morning (yesterday, ie Thursday, was a normal day because it took time for the protocol to be established, and we were only contacted and told what was to happen as we were finishing morning stables) but instead a vet came and took nasal swabs from every horse.  Those swabs have gone to the Animal Health Trust, and the results ought to be back this evening.  I'm assuming that all the results will be negative and we shall be back to normal tomorrow morning.

The Jockey Club has been very helpful in that it has made the Heath available from 12.30 onwards to the stables who have to be kept away from the general herd, when the other trainers will have finished their exercises.  As we are predominantly a Flat stable and as we have very few runners on the AW, it is 'off season' for us, and most of the horses in training are many weeks off racing yet.  So I'm actually giving the horses who are just in light work the day off (we're lucky having paddocks so we can give horses the day off without their being stuck in their stables all day) and we'll only take one lot of four horses out.  Roy, Solitary Sister, Sacred Sprite and Dervish can canter up Long Hill at 12.30, and that's our lot.  Back to the grindstone tomorrow so I'll enjoy the relatively quiet day today.  (And I am aware that for most other stables, ie stables with sizeable numbers of horses who are racing at present, or even stables who had horses entered for races on the race-days which aren't going to happen, this is a much more annoying hiatus than it is for us).

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