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Equifest, a New Year’s Tradition, Canceled Due to EHV Outbreak

The annual horse show is run ahead of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, but an Equine Herpesvirus concerns caused the cancellation.

By Leslie Potter | December 9, 2016

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Horses are a highlight of the annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in California, and the horses are traditionally highlighted in the days ahead of the parade during a show called EquiFest. But an unfortunate oubreak of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) at the host venue has caused a cancellation for this year’s EquiFest.

EquiFest is traditionally held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center (LAEC) in Burbank. The LAEC is currently under quarantine due to 13 cases of EHV-1 beginning last month. According to Pasadena Star News, only one of the afflicted horses remains under quarantine, but that case does prevent any horses from coming or going from the center.

EHV-1 is highly contagious and the most common symptoms are respiratory, including nasal discharge and coughing. Affected horses will often spike a fever. The virus is spread via nasal secretions and can be spread from direct horse-to-horse contact. However, it can also spread on shared equipment or even on human skin or clothing. That’s why, during an outbreak, anyone who visits multiple equine facilities throughout the day should change their clothes and footwear and thoroughly wash their hands in between visits.

Outbreaks can sometimes lead to the more severe, neurological strain of the virus called equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM) which may cause symptoms such as incoordination, weakness, extreme lethargy and an inability to get up after lying down. The current outbreak at the LAEC has not included any cases of EHM.

Read more about EHV-1 and EHM here.

There is a chance that the quarantine could be lifted before EquiFest’s scheduled date of Dec. 30, but at this time the Tournament of Roses has already announced that they will not be running the event this year.

Anyone who purchased tickets for EquiFest through the official ticketing agency, Sharp Seating, will be refunded automatically; purchasers will not need to take any action to get a refund.

USMC Mounted Color Guard in Rose Parade
US Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard by Prayitino on BY 2.0

The equestrian entries in the Tournament of Roses Parade will go on as scheduled. Organizers are currently working to secure alternate boarding arrangements for participants who may have been planning to stable their horses at the LAEC before the parade. Participants will be asked to follow precautions to reduce the risk of infection, namely by limiting the contact between horses of different groups and using separate water sources and equipment.

The Rose Parade is traditionally held on New Year’s Day, but will be held on Monday, January 2 this year due to another longstanding tradition. According to, the parade has had a "Never on Sunday” policy dating back to 1893. The policy exists because parade organizers didn’t want to frighten horses hitched outside of churches during Sunday services. While this particular concern is no longer relevant, the policy stands.

The Rose Parade begins at 8:00 a.m. PST on January 2 and will be broadcast on U.S. television stations including RFD-TV, HGTV, The Hallmark Channel and various network stations. Check your local listings to find out how you can watch the parade.

Leslie Potter is a writer and photographer based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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Equifest, a New Year’s Tradition, Canceled Due to EHV Outbreak

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Reader Comments

cc    Countyside, OH

1/6/2017 6:16:33 AM

One horse could effect all the horses.

kygal    rural, KY

1/2/2017 7:34:42 AM

Good decision to cancel. I also like the "Never on Sunday" policy i think a lot more should have that policy

Tristan    DeT, TX

12/29/2016 5:33:48 AM

It is better to cancel than have a bigger outbreak.

terry    e, AZ

12/22/2016 4:53:10 PM


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