Equine veterinary leaders have welcomed news of tighter checks on horse movements between Ireland, France and the UK, due to come into force in spring 2014.

From May 2014, the privileges of the Tripartite Agreement will apply only to “high health” horses, including Thoroughbred racehorses and breeding stock, and Fédération Equestre Internationale sport horses, going to and from France. Previously, the agreement effectively allowed the free movement of horses between the UK, Ireland and France without health checks.

When the changes come into force, all other movements of horses between these countries will be required to follow the normal rules when moving between EU countries and must travel with a health certificate issued by a veterinary surgeon.

BEVA spokesman David Mountford welcomed the revised agreement, while stressing the need to update vets and horse owners of the changes.

“Equine veterinarians were very concerned about the risks posed by so many horses travelling between countries without health checks,” he said. 

“It was a disaster waiting to happen, so this change is great news. However the focus now needs to  be on the effective implementation of the revised agreement and to communicate this to vets and horse owners across the country.”

Meanwhile, World Horse Welfare chief executive and vet Roly Owers said the changes were badly needed.

“We applaud Defra for involving the sector so closely in the whole process, and it deserves great credit for negotiating what should be a more effective and enforceable system.” he added. 

“We now have a TPA that will serve its original purpose – to allow the free movement of high health horses to competition and breeding. The equine sector looks forward to working with Defra over the next few months on implementing and communicating these changes.”

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