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Annual equestrian showcase canceled due to virus outbreak

The annual Equestfest, which is part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, has been canceled due to a recent outbreak of equine herpesvirus at the center, according to a statement released Friday.

Equestfest, which was set to be held on Dec. 30, is an event that showcases the equestrian acts that will be seen days later during the Rose Parade. However, officials decided to cancel the event at the facility to ensure that none of the horses contracted the disease, according to the statement.

“While I am disappointed by the circumstances that have led to this decision, the health and well-being of our equestrian family supersedes all else,” said Brad Ratliff, president of the Tournament of Roses, in the statement. “The most remote possibility of infection is far too great a risk for these magnificent animals, and while this decision was difficult to announce, it was easy to make.”

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Organizers expect the horses that were scheduled to perform at Equestfest will take part in the Rose Parade on Jan. 2.

George Chatigny, general manager of the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, declined to comment Friday evening.

“The professionalism and concern for the equines by our friends at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center has been tremendous,” Ratliff said. “We have been in constant communication with the team at the [the center], and the decision to cancel the event was a collaboration between our two organizations. We look forward to a successful Equestfest next year and continue in the rich traditions of showcasing the talents and beauty of our equestrian family.”

Dr. Kent Fowler, the animal health branch chief for the Department of Food and Agriculture, wrote in an email on Friday that the quarantine is still in effect at the center.

A section of the 75-acre facility has been under quarantine since Nov. 3, when two horses displayed neurological complications after coming back from a horse show held in Las Vegas Oct. 27 through 29. One of the horses was euthanized because of the illness.

It was later determined that the horses had the non-neurotrophic strain of equine herpesvirus, which is the more common and less serious form of the disease, which is usually a respiratory infection that causes a fever.

However, officials with the California Department of Food and Agriculture are more concerned about the neurotrophic strain, which causes damage to the spinal cord and brain of the horse.

There have since been 13 horses that have contracted the less-serious non-neurotrophic strain of equine herpesvirus, and no additional horses have been euthanized.

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Anthony Clark Carpio, anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio


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