Photo credit…Harriet Ashbridge. As Jonelle said, “Oh to be 3 years old and have not a care in the world!”
To say it has been a challenging week would be a bit of an under estimation! The team of horses and crew have been amazing and all of the horses have benefitted hugely from the experience. This was always planned to be the last week of competition for Team Price but then there were a few curve balls thrown that yet again have been difficult to deal with and have highlighted the ability the whole team have to regroup and re plan and adapt as always!
Equine Herpes Virus (EHV) is not a notifiable disease like Strangles, it is something that sits in the equine community much like flu in people. It is a horrible virus and one that rightly the equestrian world strives to identify and eliminate at the earliest opportunity. The cases that arose on the Valencia Tour were without doubt mishandled and then exacerbated by the decision to isolate all the horses in a huge tented stabling which merely increased the bacterial infection rate. But, we live and learn and not a single person who knows how sick horses get and indeed die from this would take any option other than the right one.
The week began on a high with Jonelle and Cooley Seeing Magic ( Guthrie) winning a class and copping a whopping €69! I think that’s our first win on the Tour so massive congrats to Guthrie! Then the news of the outbreak of EHV started to float and then the Rain in Spain fell Loudly on the Plain as Tim posted a video of lashing rain and horrible weather. Then the Tour sadly announced the suspension of all competition today which is such a blow to them… they had already closed the doors on any new horses but a positive EHV test forced their hand.
Plenty of riders had opted for the “bolt and go” strategy over the last few days. We like to call it the “Ozzie strategy” but our guys were following the protocols for the best scenario for their horses. Gigi, the amazing transporter who has been driving the horses for the last 5 years for this Tour was called and he confirmed that although the stabling at Dax was closed, it was open for Team Price horses through his contacts. Tim rightly explained that the bolt option had left horses without any en route stabling which was unthinkable. Jonelle spent allot of time and thought into a plan that was rapidly evaluating after British Eventing and the British Equestrian Federation put in protocols around returning horses. As Tim said, she secured an amazing coup with Countess Susie Goess-Saurau of Temple Farm Estate which is where many of the Price horses holiday and all 15 of them will go straight there from the ferry. All of the Tour staff will continue to look after the these horses and all of the Mere Farm staff will stick with the horses at home. We are very grateful for Temple Farm which will allow the Tour horses stables, amazing turnout and hacking as well as an arena and they will be on a 10 day mini break that most of us are seriously hankering for!
One of the bewildering BEF guidelines is that the horses have to be separated by a “highway” so thankfully we have the A346 in the middle of the 10 miles between Mere and Temple! We have followed all of the guide lines to the letter ( I mean really, horses are dying here, as if Team Price would do anything to influence that for their own benefit) which includes letters to cover Tim and Jonelle traveling from Little Thatch to Mere Farm under lockdown and self isolation through Elite Sports Exemption DCMS, their voluntary exclusion from Squad Training for 10 days, an exorbitantly expensive cost for the 5 day Test and Release programme that they have signed up for and the 10 day Double Serology test that the horses will all be subject to at Temple Farm.
Tim and Jonelle released a statement on Social Media today to cover these points and there was, of course, in these days of “Be Kind”, an instant keyboard warrior that put herself forward as the judge of all horses and ponies resident in the UK that would now be at risk of EHV as a direct result of Tim and Jonelle returning. I really don’t want to dedicate any time to these trolls but I will say it is encouraging to see how much support there is out there for the good guys as well as the inevitable idiot. What is farcical is that they can take totally incorrect information and run with it ( the implication being that the Tour horses were competing at Aston next week where they were looking at entries at the end of the month for Aston #2) and without interacting with them it is hard to set the record straight.
What else can we expect to deal with ? Aliens.. Locusts… all have been suggested but we will always put the horses first and foremost and anyone who doubts this is not familiar with Team Price protocols!