Used horseback riding gear and dirty riding clothing were found during a customs inspection of a car arriving from abroad in a cargo vessel on Wednesday. Import of such items is forbidden and so they were confiscated.
Icelandic horses. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.
It is considered likely that the resilient horse flu which surfaced in Iceland this year can be traced back to used riding gear from abroad, Morgunbladid reports.
Gudni Markús Sigmundsson at the Directorate of Customs said such illegal imports occur regularly. “People have mainly been taking it with them in their luggage in airplanes or having it mailed.”
He said there is no supervision of riders coming from tournaments abroad. “The responsibility lies first and foremost with the riders.”
Senior veterinarian Halldór Runólfsson pointed out the risks involved in such conduct. “It might be enough to walk into stables in shoes that have been used around horses abroad to cause infection.”
“We have a very isolated environment here and we never import horses to the country,” Runólfsson said. Horses that are taken to competitions abroad have to be left behind.
The National Union of Riders’ Associations, the Association of Horse Farmers and the Associations of Horse Trainers have issued a statement condemning the incident on Wednesday.
According to ruv.is, the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority finds this violation very serious but has yet to decide whether to file charges against the individual responsible.
Click here to read more about the horse flu.