The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) distinguishes diseases of different risk factors in its guidelines for high-health, high-performance (HHP) horse management. These measures not only safeguard the HHP horse health but also that of the millions of horses living in host countries and the horses’ home countries, as well.

The HHP horse is the international competitor, traveling from country to country several times a year for high-level Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) events or graded races. In cooperation with the FEI and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), the OIE developed the HHP concept in 2014.

The OIE has now described regular management “pillars” that keep most equine diseases at bay for HHP horses. But it has also specified six diseases that, due to their risk of spreading, require specific testing and/or vaccination before entering a country, even in the highest-level horses. African horse sickness, equine influenza, equine infectious anemia, equine piroplasmosis, glanders, and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis can all spread to other horses (and, in some cases, other species) even if caretakers follow stringent management practices, the OIE said.

The OIE has now defined “harmonized HHP requirements” for those six diseases with the “model HHP veterinary certificate,” which simplifies processes and ensures the highest sanitary standards, said Monique Eloit, DVM, director general of the OIE.

The model certificate represents the biosecurity measures detailed in the OIE’s HHP Handbook, including “horizontal pillars” (such as continuous biosecurity and health monitoring) for warding off most OIE-listed equine diseases, as well as prevention/detection strategies for the six higher-risk diseases.

“The overall goal of the HHP concept is to facilitate the safe temporary importation of competition horses through simplified requirements for their temporary importation,” Eloit told The Horse. “In that sense, the model HHP veterinary certificate represents the end product of the HHP concept: The continuous documented observance of HHP horizontal pillars allows for the harmonization and reduction to six the number of infectious diseases that HHP horses need to be screened for international movements, as prescribed in the model HHP veterinary certificate.”

Member countries that adopt the HHP framework as an alternative to their existing local horse movement systems can make their countries more attractive for international equestrian events, Eloit added. “It can enable more nations to benefit from the expansion of the sport horse industry,” she said.

However, such adoption at an international level requires not only willingness but also cooperation and strong communication among the many industry players, Eloit said. “In view of the operationalization of the concept, it is necessary to strengthen collaborations between the national veterinary services and private operators (persons responsible for HHP horses), private veterinarians, and the horse industry (national equestrian federations and national horseracing authorities),” she said. “The implementation of the HHP concept should be a joint effort and shared responsibility.”

The OIE, the FEI, and the IFHA hope to develop regional efforts to foster such collaborations, in particular in the Americas and Africa, said Eloit.

Even so, member countries and industry leaders alike should keep in mind that the HHP concept is new and evolving, she added. The OIE, FEI, and IFHA are open to ideas for improvement and encourage them through constructive feedback.

“The HHP concept remains a work in progress in terms of its operationalization and implementation at the global level,” Eloit said. “Therefore, the OIE values OIE Member Countries’ comments based on their experience in view of the continuous improvement of the HHP concept.”

The OIE formally reviews comments it receives. Amended versions of the HHP guidelines are posted on its website.