By LeRae Haynes
The recent outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus in Alberta, western US and BC has caused some rodeos and cutting competitions to be cancelled or postponed, but Williams Lake Stampede Association president Fred Thomas said that the Williams Lake Stampede will go on as planned.
âOur take is that itâs an âunknown quantityâ as to how the outbreak of the virus will develop,â he stated. âThe worst case is that in the last minute something drastic will happen, such as a full outbreak, and weâll have to cancel.â
He said that he has been in touch with the president of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. âThey donât seem to be too concerned about it,â he explained. âSome high school rodeos have been cancelled in places in BC, including Quesnel, and the only reason for that is that they have cutting competitions and the virus outbreak has been centered around cutting horses.â
One event in Williams Lake that has been cancelled and rescheduled due to the Equine Herpes Virus is the Childrenâs Wish Ride at Minton Creek Ranch. Ranch owner Rene Leclerc stated that that once they found out about the virus and how it spreads, they decided to postpone the ride for a few weeks. He said that they board a large number of horses on the ranch and that the health and safety of the animals on the ranch and on the ride is paramount.
According to Fred Thomas, âcutting horse peopleâ and ârodeo peopleâ are two separate entities, and he noted that they seldom end up at the same event at the same time. âThis virus starting with cutting horses and the chances of it spreading to rodeo horses is very slight,â he stated.
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association website prorodeo.com states the following: âThe PRCA is closely monitoring the issues surrounding the outbreak of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) that has spread through the Western United States. At this time we do not have any confirmation of any States that have restricted the transportation of horses, or have any PRCA rodeos been cancelled at this time due to this outbreak.
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