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Days of '47 horse parade cancelled amid concerns of horse herpes

By Benjamin Wood | Posted - Jun. 3, 2011 at 11:25 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Another event fell casualty to the equine herpes virus Friday.

Organizers for the Days of '47 All Horse Parade announced the cancellation of the event, one of the nation's largest horse parades.

Event planners cited concern for the safety of Utah's equine population as the catalyst for the decision. The Days of '47 executive committee met with Utah horse owners and Utah state veterinarian Dr. Bruce King before announcing the cancellation.

"This has been a very difficult decision. The All Horse Parade is something that's been very important to the Days of '47 events for years," said Days of '47 president Eric Jergensen. "It's something that people really very much enjoy, so the decision to cancel the parade was taken with a great deal of consideration."

The equine herpes virus, EHV-1, was first diagnosed last month at an event in Ogden and has resulted in the cancellation of dozens of horse shows in the United States and Canada. While the All Horse Parade is the first event in Utah to be officially cancelled, other events have made changes to their programs as a result of the virus, such as the Davis County Mounted Posse Jr. Queen Contest, which this year saw contestants competing on stick horses.

King posted an announcement on the Utah Department of Agriculture website Thursday recommending that all equine events be held as regularly scheduled and saying that the threat of the virus spreading at such events is now minimal. King could not be reached for comment.

Jergensen said that horse owners expressed concerns about participating in the All Horse parade. Other events, such as the rodeo and Days of '47 parade, occur later in the month and the virus is expected to have run its course by then.

"There aren't a lot of people that have been willing to come participate in the All Horse Parade," Jergensen said. "There's been concern from the horse owners that this event is still just too early in July. They're erring on the side of caution."

Jergensen said there all other Days of '47 events are expected to be held as scheduled and are "full speed ahead." As of now, there are no plans to hold a substitute event in place of the All Horse Parade.

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