PRESS RELEASE – 29.03.2018

Local equestrians have been stunned by Equestrian Australia’s announcement of a strategic partnership with company, Zoetis. The company manufactures the controversial Equivac HeV (Hendra) vaccine which was mandatory for all competition horses following the 2012 Hendra outbreak.  The rushed vaccine was alleged to cause some horses to develop severe side-effects causing death and or loss of use.

The new commercial partnership between Equestrian Australia and Zoetis comes off the back of the recent announcement of a $53 million class action in the Federal Court, lead by LHD Lawyers. This legal action alleges that pharmaceutical manufacturer, Zoetis, failed to properly trial and test its Equivac HeV (Hendra) vaccine before it was administered to horses Australia.

Equestrians have taken to social media to express their outrage and disbelief when the partnership was announced yesterday. The Equestrian Australia Facebook page and other online forums are awash with commentary from riders questioning the ethics of the decision and concerns it is a significant conflict of interest for the governing body.

Sharnika Blacker made the following comment on Equestrian Australia’s Facebook page.

“An extremely disrespectful decision from EA board, considering past history with members over the Hendra vaccine, and current class action underway. Would be much better to get ‘research and science’ advice from a range of independent sources, not solely from those who have bought the privilege, and will be selling products on the basis of it…Once again, more transparency is needed in regards to how much monetary influence this private company now has over the EA board.”

Hannah Brooks, the founder of the equestrian support-group Stop Bullying in Equestrian Sports (SBIES), recently highlighted Equestrian Australia’s unsympathetic response to addressing the issues of bullying and harassment in the sport. Hannah had this to say about this controversial new partnership.

“The lack of compassion Equestrian Australia is showing for the horse owners and members affected by the side effects of the Hendra vaccination is deeply troubling and typical of the governing body. It will only serve to place affected members under further duress and emotional stress. It’s another example of how Equestrian Australia’s is completely out of touch with the equestrian community’s sentiment on key issues”

Action group CHAMPS (Concerned Horse-owners, Association Members & Professional Sectors), is calling for Equestrian Australia members to email the CEO, Paula Ward on and express their discontent over this troubling decision.

A written response from EA sent to an affected horse owner today is at complete odds with its past ruling to make vaccinations of the Hendra vaccine mandatory, saying that health care is, in fact, a ‘member’s choice’:

“Our focus with Zoetis is on the welfare of livestock and companion animals and sharing information about research and other developments. EA are committed to the welfare of the horse and believe sharing content from vets, scientists and real life case studies will inform our members of how best to achieve this. Ultimately, it is each member’s choice as to how they choose to care for their horses and any other animals they have” Paula Ward – EA CEO.

With a long line of systemic failures within EA and ongoing uncertainty around the renewal of the CEO’s contract, this is another indictment of the concerning state of affairs plaguing the governance of equestrian sports in Australia.

Contact Hannah from SBIES on  or on 0412 257 882

Take the SBIES Survey HERE






  1. Definitely won’t give my horses this vaccine! Don’t agree with it or it’s research! What research there’s been none it’s not properly tested at all. It’s terrible hearing stories of horses that have died from this.


  2. I can’t believe the EA would associate themselves with a company that has had such an impact on some of their members. Dissapointed that it all comes back to money and not the sport and the horses it is supposed to care about. Sold their souls for money


  3. It’s just fundamentally unethical for EA to have a relationship with a pharmaceutical company, regardless of the Hendra vaccine issue. The fact that EA don’t recognise this is a very worrisome reflection of the lack of understanding EA has regarding basic ethical standards.


  4. Totally agree Karen, these top jobs and the remuneration paid should be more transparent to the members and EA should be a body to support members on an independent basis and not aligned to commercial interests that can be construed as being not in the best interest of EA members,


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