Equine virus threat shut down weekend rodeos

The possible threat of spreading Neurotropic Equine Herpes Virus-1 (nEHV-1) brought the biggest rodeo weekend of the year in 100 Mile House to a grinding halt last week, and caused the cancellation of four major events.

Little Britches Rodeo and its parade, South Cariboo Rodeo Association Rough Stock Rodeo and the 100 Mile and District Outriders Gymkhana were all cancelled or postponed when news of an outbreak of the highly contagious virus was confirmed earlier in the week. The outbreak was traced to a National Cutting Horse Association event held in Ogden, Utah from April 30 to May 8. Since that event, some 18 cases of the virus have been reported.

According to a news release on May 18, from Equine Canada, there was one case in Southern Alberta, and three cases in British Columbia, along with additional cases in the United States from Washington to Texas have been confirmed.

Outriders vice-president Denise Little says no cases of the virus have been reported in the South Cariboo, but the club is working with the equine community to contain it. The Outriders were first advised of the outbreak on May 17, and on May 19, the announcement was made that weekend rodeo events would be cancelled.

“We’re cancelling horse shows and events of high risk, but will reschedule in late July or early August,” she says, adding the club has already been provided with possible alternate dates from the BC Little Britches Rodeo Association on which they can reschedule their event.

The Outriders Gymkhana was also put on hold, with a new date in July a strong possibility, according to Ron Szigety, Outriders past president.

Because the Little Britches Parade is so closely tied with the rodeo, it too was put on hold.

Rescheduling of the rough stock rodeo is not as simple, according to South Cariboo Rodeo Association president Art Young.

“We will not reschedule as there are no other dates available. That may change. It’s not a good thing for us.

“It took a lot of work to get the rodeo going, but we can’t risk it. We’d rather err on the side of caution.”


100 Mile House Free Press