Horse Illness, Legacy Reviews and ‘Battle Steed’: February 2019 Review

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Initiatives and Events Making Headlines in the Equine World

Unfathomable setbacks in the equestrian world marked February 2019, as an unexpected outbreak of equine flu forced a six-day suspension of horse racing affairs across the nation. The sudden spread of the disease painted a vivid picture of the significant role played by regular horse immunizations.

Proactive Steps in Middleham

Ben Gaskell, a esteemed veterinarian stationed in Middleham, surfaced as a vocal advocate for continuous vaccination schedules. His proposed solution, a six-month booster shot in response to this upheaval, showed a vigorous outlook toward horse health management. Despite no horses under Gaskell’s supervision being affected by the flu, its potential for rapid transmission through air and body fluids highlighted the critical need to isolate instances of the flu at the earliest.

BHA’s Role in Containing the Outbreak

Meanwhile, Richard Fahey, an acclaimed horse trainer from Malton, voiced his trust in the British Horseracing Association’s (BHA) proactive measures to control the spread. Drawing on previous outbreaks in Ireland and France – which did not result in race cancellations – Fahey underscored BHA’s pre-emptive steps to prevent a nationwide racing crisis.

Revitalising Historic Structures

Parallelly, the town of Bishop Auckland witnessed the roll-out of the Heritage Action Zone Scheme by Historic England. The initiative mobilised planned surveys of historically significant buildings, signaling a commitment towards the refurbishment and potential repurposing of these monumental structures. The focal points for these surveys were iconic locations like the erstwhile Co-operative Store, the McIntyre edifice, and the Mechanics Institute, all managed under the aegis of the Durham County Council.

A Milestone in Theatrics

To infuse the month with a dose of cultural celebration, the much-loved theatre performance ‘War Horse’ traversed its 10-year journey with a grand tour, including a showstopper at the Sunderland Empire. The production stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of Michael Morpurgo’s novel, brought alive on stage by the impressive life-size puppets from Handspring Puppet Company. Under the guidance of Gareth Aled, the resident puppetry director, and fronted by Scott Miller, the play continues to garner overwhelming response for its heartfelt narrative.


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