The recent 28th SEA Games heralded the start of an exciting time for Singaporeans, with many rooting for Team Singapore from 6 to 15 June 2015. For AVA, it marked the culmination of a year's worth of preparation. We had been working behind the scenes to ensure that horses arrive healthy and in time for the Games' equestrian event.
A total of 42 local and international horses took part in the equestrian event, which showcased jumping and dressage disciplines. Of these, 21 were imported from the European Union, two from Australia, and six from Malaysia. For these quality equines to reach Singapore safe and sound, AVA worked closely with Sport Singapore and the Equestrian Federation of Singapore (EFS) to plan freight logistics. This was no easy task as horses from Europe, for instance, needed to endure an 18-hour flight, complete with transits and stopovers. Much like humans, they had to contend with jet-lag, dehydration, and limited leg room. AVA put in place measures to ensure that the horses were well taken care of throughout the journey.
As imported horses may potentially carry infectious diseases, AVA inspected the Singapore Turf Club Riding Centre (STCRC) and approved it as a facility to isolate the imported horses for the SEA Games. This involved working out an arrangement for the segregation of international and local horses during their stay at STCRC, so that any potential diseases would not spread to our local population of horses. At the same time, this would facilitate training and logistics for the competition.
A week before the competition, horse shipments started to arrive, and AVA officers worked into the wee hours of the morning to facilitate the imports. Dr Jan Yong, Acting Deputy Director from AVA's Animal Quarantine Section, was one of the officers present.
"Besides verifying the required paperwork, I also checked the horses' general health and condition. For example, I looked out for physical injuries and signs of infectious diseases such as nasal discharge. I also examined the horses to check if they were alert," said Dr Yong.
Important documents such as accompanying vaccination records and laboratory test reports were also scrutinised. Once the checks were done, the horses were loaded into floats and transported to STCRC, where they were stabled, fed, and watered before settling in for a rest.
In addition, AVA officers conducted regular visits to STCRC before and during the Games to stay on top of biosecurity measures. This included ensuring that personnel disinfected their hands and boots upon entering and leaving the stables, horses were stabled according to the country they were imported from, and that the grooms/personnel who tended the local horses did not mix with international horses and vice versa.
Soon after, we began preparing for the horses' departure. This entailed obtaining the necessary paperwork for health certificates and scheduling pre-export inspections. Once the competition wrapped up, we conducted checks on the horses to ensure that they were healthy and fit for travel. Meanwhile, horses that were staying for good were quarantined at the Singapore Equine Quarantine Station (SEQS) for two weeks.
EFS has expressed its gratitude to AVA for effectively assisting with the import of the SEA Games horses. Our congratulations to Team Singapore for clinching a gold medal in the Team Jumping event and silver medals for the Individual Jumping, Team Dressage, and Individual Dressage disciplines!