All horses entering the United States routinely undergo testing for several diseases during a USDA-mandated quarantine period,
but at the games further protocols will be in place, especially for piroplasmosis. "An unaffected horse can still be a carrier," Allen says. (The disease does not present a risk to humans.)
Prior to the 2000 Olympics, piroplasmosis protocols in the United States were so stringent that "p-positive foreign horses
weren't even allowed in," Allen recalls. "In Atlanta in 1996, those that did compete couldn't commingle with U.S. horses and
had to compete in separate arenas. It created enough of a restrictive atmosphere that many foreign teams didn't bother to
participate – there were only three p-positive horses that year – and that didn't make much sense when so much money was spent
on promoting and conducting those games."
The eight disciplines
But all that changed after the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. "There we simply stabled the horses separately in wood shavings, which
creates a biological barrier to piroplasmosis, shampooed the horses to kill ticks and then they could compete together," Allen
recalls. "There must have been about 30 (p-positive) horses who went through that process and were able to compete."
Similar measures, creating a less restrictive environment, have been in place at the world games since then and will be provided,
even enhanced, in Lexington, Allen says.
"Besides these precautions, we also know that tick surveys in Kentucky show that few of them are around and active during
the time of year the games will be held (Sept. 25 through Oct. 10)."
Some organizers believe these factors may have been instrumental in Lexington winning the bid in 2005 to host the WEG in 2010.
The games are sponsored by Alltech and Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). The host organization is the World Games 2010 Foundation, Inc. (
"There couldn't be a better facility for this event than Kentucky Horse Park," says Dr. Catherine Kohn, VMD, professor of
veterinary medicine at The Ohio State University, who expects to assist in organizing the DVM pool and serve elsewhere as
needed during the games. "There's enough room and facilities there for all the events, and of course plenty of world-class
back-up services close by."
On the job: Dr. Kent Allen at work at his practice, Virginia Equine Imaging, in Middleburg, Va.
Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute are within a short distance of the horse park, which hosts
more than 60 equine competitions each year. Both Allen and Kohn consider the 27-year-old theme park one of the finest facilities
of its kind in the world.
Like Allen, Kohn also has wide experience at equine sporting events. She served as president of the veterinary commission
for equine competition at the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, and was the ranking foreign delegate at the Pan-Asian Games in
Bangkok, Thailand, in 1998.
She isn't certain yet exactly what role she'll have at Lexington. "There's a lot to do, much of it behind the scenes, so not
everything we (DVMs) do is publicly visible," she says. "I could work in several areas – wherever I might be needed."
Growing up, Kohn says she frequently was around eventing competitions, and has provided her veterinary skills at many such
events over the years – to the point that she knows and is known by many of the athletes.