"It is terrible that so many cancelled and are not attending the European Championship," says Boris Kook, the show announcer. Photo © Figure 8 Photography

AQHA European Championship Starts Despite Infectious Outbreak Fears

The 2015 AQHA European Championship kicked off on Friday with several classes including the trail and reining. However, many trainers and exhibitors decided to stay home due to an outbreak of Infectious Anemia in Bavaria, the German region where the show is held. Chatter on social media increased fears and concerns throughout the European Quarter Horse community.

“It is terrible that so many cancelled and are not attending the European Championship even though, according to experts, there is no higher risk of infection than there has been in the last couple of years,” says Boris Kook, the show announcer. “However, those exhibitors who have decided to stay here in Kreuth are having a jolly good time. Everybody is relaxed and smiling, we had a great time at the BBQ last night. It may very well be the smallest European Championship ever, but definitely the most relaxed.”

FEQHA-Vice President Marco Stors stated that, “Since the official county veterinarian does not see any reason right now to stop the European Championship Show because of health reasons, it is my opinion to have the European Championship taking place as planned. Of course, there had to be different restrictions and requirements. Show management and the county veterinarian from Amberg have done a commendable job in communication and collaboration.”

“We continue to do everything to provide the best show possible and want to make everybody feel very welcome,” says show manager Micky Kayser.

The Government Appointed Veterinarian of Belgium, Dolf Desmedt, owner of European Champion, Get Some Sleep, said that he decided to attend the show due to information provided by the German appointed veterinarian. “From my experience as a state veterinarian, I know that these government officials must follow extreme and strict procedures to determine whether or not there is an inherent risk to the horses arriving and competing at the European Championships,” Desmedt said. “It’s with this information I have confidence that my own horses will be as safe as they can possibly be. It is my feeling, there has been a severe lack of education around this matter and a lot of panic has been created through the use of social media. At the moment, I will continue to participate in the show and enjoy my time in Kreuth. As a past Olympian, International competitor and a professional veterinarian, I am very confident to be here.”

GoHorseShow spoke with Alexandra Jagfeld of Jagfeld Quarter Horses whose group collectively decided to not attend this year’s show. Jagfeld said that she heard about the outbreak fears on the internet and radio.

“At the time we arrived at the fairgrounds (on Tuesday), they told us that we were only allowed to unload the horses with a health certificate or our horses had to stay in quarantine stalls. This situation gave us a bad feeling,” Jagfeld recalls. “But, we still decided to set up our stall decorations. In that time, we made some phone calls. We called the state vet of Amberg and they told us that for right now there is no risk and that the area is clean. We called the state vet of Schwandorf and they told us that they had two positive tested horses in their area. We called several vets, and they told us that the danger that one of our horses getting infected was low.”

Jagfeld continues, “Out of this situation we decided that our customers should make their own decision. They all came to conclusion that they didn’t want to even take a small risk. For sure there is always a risk competing at a horse show or being somewhere else, but there is a difference if you know about a problem.”

Jagfeld said that she has been competing at the European Championships since she was five years-old and did not want to miss this one. “We love our horses and our sport and it’s important to make it grow. It hurts to read on Facebook that everybody who went back home or decided to stay home wants to ruin the show or the show management or that we want to keep people away from competing. Everybody is responsible for themselves and need to make their own decisions.”

Despite these setbacks, The European Championships continue through August 16th and features some of the top quarter horses in Europe. For more information about the show, please visit their Facebook page by clicking here or click here for their website.