17/02/2008 - On to Hong Kong - Introduction Presentation Summaries - Pre-Olympic Workshop on Heat & Humidity: 17 February 2008, Lausanne (SUI)
ANDREW HIGGINS, Chairman of the FEI Welfare Sub-Committee, introduces the speakers and explains the motivation behind the staging of today's Workshop - to broaden understanding of the procedures being put in place to protect the health, safety and welfare of the horses competing at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.
17/02/2008 - On to Hong Kong - Setting the Scene Presentation Summaries Pre-Olympic Workshop on Heat & Humidity: 17 February 2008, Lausanne (SUI)
JOHN McEWEN, Chairman of the FEI Veterinary Committee, outlines the baseline topics of discussion, thanks the organisers of the 2007 "Good Luck Beijing" Test Event and the Federations who pooled relevant information in order to facilitate a consensus of 'best practice' for competing in hot and humid conditions, and acknowledges the sponsorship of today's event by Peden Bloodstok and The International League for Protection of Horses.
17/02/2008 - On to Hong Kong - Hong Kong is Getting Ready Presentation Summaries Pre-Olympic Workshop on Heat & Humidity: 17 February 2008, Lausanne (SUI)
W.K. LAM, Chief Executive of the Equestrian Events (Hong Kong) of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad Company Limited, details the logistics for the staging of the Games with reference to both venues - Sha Tin and Beas River.
Mr Lam describes layout, access, competition and training areas, stabling and back-of-house facilities along with horse transportation and freight insurance arrangements. He also explains the accreditation, transportation and accommodation plans for athletes and officials at the Olympic Village, the Olympic Family Hotel, the Media Hotel and the Grooms Village along with the services available at each location, and he outlines catering arrangements at the competition venues.
Mr Lam runs through the cultural, educational and community programmes staged in Hong Kong in an effort to raise local awareness and support, he comments on the lessons learned during last summer's Test Event and mentions the Opening and Closing Ceremonies along with the tours and events that will be arranged for athletes and officials during their stay. A competition and training schedule, details of stable opening hours and the list of appointed officials are included in his presentation.
17/02/2008 - On to Hong Kong - Equine Quarantine and Bio-Security - Management / Standard Operating Procedures Presentation Summaries - Pre-Olympic Workshop on Heat & Humidity: 17 February 2008, Lausanne (SUI)
KEITH L. WATKINS of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Equestrian Company, Hong Kong SAR, is a member of a distinguished panel that has formulated health protocols and standard operating procedures designed to address the specific challenges presented by the importation of 200 horses into Hong Kong for this summer's Olympic Games.
The panel, which also includes KENNETH K.H. LAM of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Equestrian Company, Hong Kong SAR, DAVID G. POWELL from The University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA, FRITS SLUYTER of the FEI and HENRY S. M. CHEUNG, MICHELLE L. YEUNG, THOMAS H.C. SIT and KENNY C.H. HO from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Dept. (AFCD), Hong Kong SAR, paid particular attention to the close proximity of the visiting horses to the two local equine populations at Sha Tin Racecourse and at the Riding School in Beas River during the period.
The introduction or spread of disease, especially the highly-contagious equine influenza (EI) virus, is of major concern. The potential for the spread of infection when horses are being transported, particularly by air, is emphasised and Dr Watkins points out that the smooth running of the Games, the health of the local horses and repatriation of the visiting equines are central to these safeguards being put in place.
He describes the difficulties encountered in creating a Disease Free Zone for horses in China after Beijing originally won the Olympic bid, and the subsequent decision to stage the equestrian events in Hong Kong due to its long-established equine health status and with the expertise available from within the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The large number of horses being imported, their length of stay, and the prevailing climatic conditions at the time of year have combined however to create a uniquely challenging environment.
Other KEY POINTS explained in this presentation include: a) Quarantine Management Team which includes a Local and Deputy manager along with 11 overseas veterinary Specialist Sports Volunteers and Local Volunteers. b) Equine Health Protocols - detailed in "Standard Operating Procedures" (see below) c) Quarantine Requirements before Export to Hong Kong - horses must be resident in an AFCD (Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong) approved country for 60 days and must be under veterinary supervision during the 30 days preceding export. d) 7-Day Pre-Export Quarantine regulations - horses must be held at AFCD approved premises and be certified free from clinical signs of infectious or contagious diseases and external parasites and must be fit to travel. They must be certified for vaccination against EI, tested for Equine Infectious Anaemia and other diseases if necessary, their movements must be certified for the previous 60 days and they must be examined by a Government Official Veterinarian of the country of export with 24 hours of leaving the Pre-Export Quarantine (PEQ) premises. e) All horses will spend 10 days in Post-Arrival Isolation. The ten days begin after the arrival of the last horse into the compound; training and competition are possible during PAI. f) Specific testing for EI may be performed on all horses prior to and/or on entering PEQ premises - this is currently under discussion.
Finally, Dr Watkins calls for DILIGENCE in compliance with protocols, VIGILANCE at all times and PRO-ACTIVE REPORTING of any signs of disease.
Standard Operating Procedures
by DR KEITH L. WATKINS, Quarantine Manager and FEI Veterinary Commission Associate Member and DR KENNETH KH LAM, Deputy Quarantine Manager.
The AIM is to ensure that all horses are healthy both when they arrive and depart, and that the good equine health status of Hong Kong is preserved.
a) The manpower and functions of the Quarantine management staff is outlined along with the work roster for both arrivals and departures. b) On arrival in Hong Kong, the Person Responsible (PR) for the horse must inform the Quarantine Officers immediately if they notice any abnormality in their charges. Suspicion of infectious disease may result in transportation of the suspect horse, and other horses which have been in contact with it, to the isolation stables at Sha Tin or Happy Valley Racecourse. c) At the Post-Arrival Isolation premises each horse will have its own individual HORSE HEALTH MONITORING CHART. Its temperature must be recorded on it by the PR who must immediately inform a Quarantine Officer if there is any abnormality which includes a temperature of, or greater than, 39.0 C/102.2 F. Event/Team veterinarians will take two 10ml blood samples for serum collection in the presence of a Quarantine Officer. Any treatment must be recorded on the horse's veterinary clinical record and on the Horse Monitoring Chart. Twice daily (morning and evening) rectal temperature check and examination for ticks is compulsory. d) Permission must be granted by the Quarantine Manager before equestrian horses enter training/exercise area. e) Stable and personal hygiene includes washing and disinfecting hands and wearing clean outer clothing and footwear. There will be disinfectant mats at entry/exit to all stable compounds. f) In case of a serious infectious disease outbreak, training, exercise and/or competition may be halted for the infected horses. g) There are stringent decontamination procedures for stables, vehicles, aircraft and manure in case of disease outbreak. h) There are contingency plans for horses arriving with Travel Sickness or other signs of infection and for unloading ill or injured horses from aircraft.
The panel points out that long-distance travel is stressful for horses and may lead to re-activation of latent diseases or other complications.
17/02/2008 - On to Hong Kong - Horse Transportation Logistics Presentation Summaries - Pre-Olympic Workshop on Heat & Humidity: 17 February 2008, Lausanne (SUI)
MARTIN H. ATOCK, Managing Director of Peden Bloodstock which has been appointed official carrier of all horses for the equestrian Olympic Games in Hong Kong, explains the rules and regulations relating to the movement of the equine athletes, their attendants, equipment and feed.
The company has drafted a comprehensive "Equestrian Freight Manual" which is available on the BOCOG, Equestrian Company and Peden websites. Horse health requirements before air departure include 60-day residency in a AFCD recognised country including all 27 European Union states, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. All horses must have a current vaccination against Equine Influenza and, within 14 days of export, must undergo a Coggins Test (for Equine Infectious Anaemia) along with an Indirect Fluorescent Antibody Test for Piroplasmosis, a Virus Neutralisation Test for Vesicular Stomatitis and/or an ELISA Test for African Horse Sickness if these diseases have occurred in the country of export during the last two years.
Pre-Export Quarantine (PEQ) may be completed at some AFCD approved private premises. Peden Bloodstock has arranged PEQ at Aachen showgrounds in Germany for all horses based in Central Europe.
Amsterdam, London Stansted, New York, Los Angeles and Sydney are the designated hub airports. Horses will travel in enclosed 'Jet Stalls" with two horses per stall. Flight times vary between 12 and 15 hours with some aircraft stopping at Dubai en route. The temperature in the aircraft will be 17 C approximately.
Equipment travelling on horse flights must arrive five hours before departure, and approximately 320kg per horse will be accepted. Bulk items such as feed should be forwarded by sea. A Peden-appointed professional groom will accompany horse attendants on the flight, and attendants will travel through security with their charges in the 'Jet Stalls'. It is expected that horses will be in their stables within 1 hour 50 minutes of arrival in Hong Kong.
For the Eventing discipline cross-country phase horses will travel by road from Sha Tin to Beas River on Sunday 10 August and return on Monday 11 August with a strict loading schedule to minimise stress. There will be two movements of 54 horses each and a 2.5 hour gap between the two in accordance with competition drawn order. A computer software programme detailing all information relevant to horses and their attendants, and designed for National Federations in particular, is currently under development.
Finally, Mr Atock outlines two important DEADLINES a) 1 March 2008 - Questionnaire released to NFs seeking firm booking information b) 30 April 2008 - Final date for return of Questionnaire.
Flight Timeline charts, attendant instructions and copy Customs and Immigration forms are also included.
17/02/2008 - On to Hong Kong - Veterinary Facilities Presentation Summaries - Pre-Olympic Workshop on Heat & Humidity: 17 February 2008, Lausanne (SUI)
CHRISTOPHER M. RIGGS, Head of Veterinary Clinical Services at the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), reports on the veterinary arrangements for the forthcoming Games.
A core team of 11 international veterinarians surgeons will be augmented by others from mainland China and from the HKJC Dept of Veterinary Clinical Services for the cross-country phase of the Eventing discipline. In addition, a group of eight senior students/graduates will provide support in the Olympic Veterinary Clinic with technical back-up from HKJC staff. Ian Hughes leads the six-strong group of farriers who will provide support to team farriers.
The purpose-built Olympic Veterinary Clinic constructed at the core venue in Sha Tin is equipped with a range of diagnostic and treatment facilities including two examination rooms, two holding stables, a wash/cooling bay, a breezeway, dispensary and main office/reception area. Emergency services will be available 24 hours daily and the office will normally open between 07h00 and 19h00 while on competition days the hours will extend to 30 minutes after the last horse has finished. Event Treating Veterinarians will offer a range of services, and seven dedicated treatment stables are available to Team Veterinarians in the veterinary compound.
The facilities and staff of the HKJC's Equine Hospital will be on 24-hour standby. The Hospital, which is located approximately 3kms from the core venue, has an operating theatre, full anaesthetic equipment and is designed to cater for most major equine surgical requirements. Veterinary care will also be provided at the isolation stables located at both the core venue and Happy Valley Racecourse. The Olympic Veterinary Clinic will house a pharmacy, and the HKJC laboratory will provide pathology services at commercial rates.
A dedicated Medication Control Programme sample collection facility for horses will be located near the stables and main training areas.
At Beas River cross-country venue a temporary veterinary clinic will be located near the stable compound with facilities for emergency care. Any horse requiring further treatment will be transported back to the Olympic Veterinary Hospital or the HKJC Hospital as required.
There will be six veterinary teams located at each of the sector headquarters on the cross-county course while three roving teams will provide further support and mobile cooling units will be stationed at strategic locations with an ample supply of ice and water at hold-points on the course. A total of eight horse ambulances and four recovery trailers will be available during the cross-country competition, and horse ambulances will be on stand-by at all venues during training and competition. Cooling facilities during training and competition include the use of misting tents capable of holding several horses simultaneously which are chilled by rows of misting fans, and chilled water and ice which will be available in each tent. All stables will be air-conditioned with the temperature set at around 23 C to assist recovery after exercise.
17/02/2008 - On to Hong Kong - Air Conditioned and Cooling Stations Presentation SummariesPre-Olympic Workshop on Heat & Humidity: 17 February 2008, Lausanne (SUI)
DR. DAVID MARLIN of David Marlin Consulting Ltd. worked on heat and humidity research for the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and here he elaborates on some important steps being taken to protect horses from the worst effects of heat throughout their stay in Hong Kong.
He explains that while acclimatisation appears to be complete after 10-14 days of exercise this may prove counter-productive because horses may not rest adequately or eat and drink properly and this could affect their health and performance. Air-conditioning is therefore being provided in both the stables and the indoor training arena and a cooling regime will be operated during exercise.
The rationale for setting the stables temperature at 23 C is that 25 C is considered to be the upper limit of a horse's thermoneutral zone - above that the horse is likely to sweat or have an increased respiratory rate. Dr Marlin warns that "what feels slightly cool to a human is likely to feel comfortable for a horse". The indoor arena temperature will be 21 C, lower than the stables because horses are working. Last summer's Test Event in Hong Kong provided a great deal of valuable information about air qualify and dust control with air-quality in the indoor and outdoor arenas remaining extremely good, even by human standards.
Dr Marlin points out that, like people, horses have varying susceptibilities to heat. Heat-related illness can occur as a result of a very high body temperature or from exposure to a moderate to high body temperature for a long period. A protocol combining acclimatisation with assisted cooling is the optimal approach.
During cold-water assisted cooling horses should be repeatedly covered from head to tail for approximately 30 seconds, then should walk in a circle for 15 seconds to promote circulation and maintain skin blood flow. It may take 10 minutes of intensive cooling to reduce the temperature by 1 C, and horses finishing cross-county may have rectal temperatures close to 42 C so it could take them 20-30 minutes to become comfortable and for their respiratory rate to return to normal.
Common mistakes in cooling horses are - 1) not using enough water, 2) failure to cover the entire body with water, 3) not allowing short periods of walk. Pre-cooling in advance of competition may also be advisable and will reduce the temperature horses reach during exercise, and Mr Marlin points out that prolonged or intense warm-up may have a negative effect.
Misting Stations should be considered additional, but not alternative, to cooling stations as they are significantly less effective in reducing body temperature. They are designed for comfort, but not for effective cooling.
17/02/2008 - On to Hong Kong - Physiological Responses of Horses Competing in the Good Luck Beijing-HKSAR 10th Anniversary Cup CCI**, Hong Kong, August 2007 Presentation SummariesPre-Olympic Workshop on Heat & Humidity: 17 February 2008, Lausanne (SUI)
DR CATHERINE KOHN of Ohio State University, USA was President of the Veterinary Commission for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and here, on behalf of a panel of experts, presents the results of the horse monitoring programme undertaken during last summer's Olympic Test Event.
The international panel also included Germany's MICHAEL DUE and CARSTEN RHODE, Australia's DENIS GOULDING, KENNETH LAM of the HKJC, OLIVIER LE PAGE from France, Sweden's STAFFAN LIBDECK, CHRISTIANA OBER and WILLIAM SAVILLE from the USA, Great Britain's JENNY HALL and ERIC VAN BREDA and EMILE WELLING from The Netherlands.
The research took place at the Olympic venues in Hong Kong on dates corresponding with this year's Games. The AIM was to document the effects of training and competition on visiting horses in order to identify adverse effects, and to help formulate recommendations for monitoring and management in 2008 with the emphasis on maintaining fluid balance and regulating body temperature.
A total of 17 horses were included in the study, and 15 of these completed the competition. Two withdrew before the cross-country test because of musculoskeletal problems during training. THE EXPERTS HIGHLIGHT THE FACT THAT THE AIR-CONDITIONED STABLES PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE SUCCESS OF THE EVENT AS THEY ENABLED HORSES TO COMFORTABLY RECOVER FROM EXERCISE.
KEY POINTS include a) Mean bodyweight change was minimal and horses maintained good hydration; b) Rectal temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate at the finish of cross-country was similar to rates recorded at other competitions in hot weather; c) Horses responded well to aggressive cooling strategies in the D box (finish of cross-country) and 14 recovered sufficiently to return to the stables within 30 minutes of completion of the course; d) Two were judged to be exhausted but, following 10-15 minutes of aggressive cooling, recovered uneventfully; e) The cross-country course was 4,357 meters long with 24 obstacles and 34 jumping efforts and one horse completed four seconds inside the optimum time of 7 minutes 55 seconds; f) All 17 horses tolerated the ambient conditions well and remained healthy; g) The air-conditioned stables allowed them to relax and recover from exertion in the hot, humid weather; h) They were transported both to and from the airport and to and from the cross-country venue in air-conditioned lorries; i) Trainers and riders combined active and passive acclimatisation. Exercise time recorded for a particular group of eight horses ranged from 20-120 minutes per day; j) Most horses were hand-walked from 15 to 80 minutes during the hottest part of the day and most spent 3.5 hours outside per day; k) 67% of horses lost weight during the day while 70% gained weight during the evenings; l) Comparison of pre-flight weights with post-competition weights for three horses showed that weight loss was greater during travel; m) Horses vary in their willingness to re-hydrate, and assessment of electrolyte losses during training and competition is still problematic; n) Vigilance in identifying dehydration and electrolyte imbalances in horses following travel is vital.
The panel concludes that 15 of the 17 horses were well able to meet the challenge of competition and that close monitoring and excellent facilities should ensure the success of the Games and the safety of the horses in Hong Kong.
Enclosed with this paper are a number of detailed explanatory graphs and charts.
17/02/2008 - On to Hong Kong - Understanding the weather situation: The results of a two year study with the Hong Kong Observatory Presentation SummariesPre-Olympic Workshop on Heat & Humidity: 17 February 2008, Lausanne (SUI)
PROFESSOR LEO JEFFCOTT, Veterinary Delegate to the 2008 Games and Chairman of the FEI Veterinary Committee for eight years, details the study undertaken with MR WING-MO LEUNG, Senior Scientific Officer at the Hong Kong Observatory.
The AIM was to estimate, as accurately as possible, the potential heat-load on horses in the difficult conditions expected in Hong Kong during the period of competition and to devise an early-warning system for the weather.
Prof. Jeffcott describes the sub-tropical climate of Hong Kong in August when it is hot and humid and temperatures of up to 35 C and humidity of 80-90% can be expected. These conditions are particularly exhausting for horses in the Eventing discipline, and the additional threat of typhoons and storms complicates matters even further. He points out that horses can cope fairly well when competing in temperatures of up to 40 C, but when this is combined with high humidity there can be profound effects on performance with the accompanying risks of exhaustion and heat stroke. He explains that the situation faced in Hong Kong creates a more complex environment than that experienced during the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 when much invaluable information was gleaned.
Preliminary material was provided in a report compiled by Dr David Marlin for the Hong Kong Jockey Club in 2005 after data were collected from portable weather stations at both Sha Tin and Beas River. In 2006 the Hong Kong Observatory set up weather stations at the two venues to record temperatures, humidity, wind speed, rainfall and the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature - an index for estimating the effect of temperature, humidity and solar radiation which is regularly used by athletes and the military. On 3 August 2006 a "virtual" cross-country competition was run with 75 horses, measuring heat-load, evaluating the optimum time to stage the cross-country phase and measuring the effects of the early morning sun by calculating a "shadow index".
In February 2007 a second "virtual" cross-country competition was held to test the response to an unpredictable storm and in August 2007 this was followed by the Good Luck Beijing HKSAR CCI 2-Star event using live horses at both venues. The full range of conditions was experienced including intense heat, thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and a typhoon warning.
THE RESULTS OF THE STUDY INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: a) The weather patterns during August 2006 and 2007 were quite different. In 2006 it was generally fine with less than normal rainfall but in 2007 the month was wetter than normal; b) The best time of day for competition was in the evening from 19.00 to 23.00h. The early morning, between sunrise at 6h30 and 9h00, was also suitable but there was a serious complication with the low position of the sun which casts long shadows; c) There was high humidity even during the heat of the day; d) The day of the 'virtual' competition in 2006 went well but the sun was very low and eight jumps on the cross-country course were badly affected by long shadows; e) Data confirmed that as many of the equestrian competitions as possible should be staged in the evening to take advantage of the cooler conditions but that the cross-country, which cannot be staged under lights, should run in the morning, commencing at around 08.00 when shadows became less of an issue; f) The Test Event in 2007 went well although it was clear from the outset that the weather would affect all aspects of the competition and might alter the schedule. The appearance of a severe tropical storm - Pabuk - caused considerable concern and a degree of disruption.
There were two competitions - an FEI CCI 2-Star with 17 horses and a national competition with 20 horses. The first Horse Inspection for the national horses had to be cancelled because of a tropical cyclone warning and the inspection for the CCI 2-Star was postponed from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning when dressage went ahead as scheduled. Although the weather was poor, Sunday's cross-country phase went ahead with two logistical delays of 15 to 30 minutes.
The local horses were first over the 2kms course and went extremely well despite the rain and high humidity. The 2-Star horses also went well and suffered no injuries but two finished very tired. Conditions were cool but humidity was high and very testing. Recorded rectal temperatures were between 39-41 C.
At the final Horse Inspection there were 15 international and 18 national horses still in competition and all were passed fit.
CONCLUSIONS: a) The main difference between Hong Kong and other locations such as Barcelona, Atlanta and Athens was that as the temperatures rose during the morning there was little reduction in humidity making it difficult to choose an optimum time for horses to compete, particularly in the cross-country phase; b) An early-morning start for cross-country, at 08.00, with short intervals of about four minutes between horses would allow the competition to be completed by 11.30 and so before the heat of the day; c) The first 'virtual' competition staged at Beas River in 2006 tested high heat/humidity conditions which did not result in disruption to the competition schedule while the second 'virtual' event tested the unpredictability of a storm with severe rain which necessitated halting the competition for over an hour, shortening the interval between horses and re-starting once the heavy rain had subsided; d) The Test Event in August 2007 provided an excellent opportunity to put the work of the last two years to the test; e) A rapid decision-making process as a consequence of bad weather has been established and agreed upon; f) A series of contingencies must be developed to prepare for bad weather. These should include 1) A short delay in the start of the cross-country if it is particularly sunny at 08.00 on the morning of 11 August 2008; 2) Logistical flexibility in case of delays in the competition schedule which may create additional requirements such as more feed for horses, human transportation and additional accommodation at Beas River; 3) Public warning and possible evacuation procedures required at both venues during severe storms; 4) The competition schedule may need to be reviewed following episodes of bad weather.