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Tournament of Roses cancels horse show after virus outbreak

File: A horse is quarantined at Turf Paradise horse track, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Phoenix in the wake of a herpes outbreak that surfaced in New Mexico.
File: A horse is quarantined at Turf Paradise horse track, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Phoenix in the wake of a herpes outbreak that surfaced in New Mexico.
Matt York/AP

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses has canceled its annual horse show, Equestfest, because of an outbreak of equine herpes virus.

"The sheer perception that there could be some impact to our participants and their horses is not something that we would like to take our community into," Washington said.

The show was scheduled for Dec. 30 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, but the center was quarantined last month after vets found 13 cases of the virus, EHV-1, which can cause neurological and respiratory disease and foal death.

"We as an organization feel the safety of our participants are much more important," Washington said, "and they are family to us. And we would not do anything to impact or hurt our family."

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune says tournament officials couldn't find a replacement venue in time and had to cancel the show for the first time in 17 years. But they plan to be back next year.

"We plan to come back bigger and better than ever," Washington said. "We are a 128-year tradition, and this is a tradition that we plan to go another 128 years. Just one little hiccup here."

The outbreak won't keep equestrian units out of the Rose Parade.

The tournament plans to follow anti-infection protocols by limiting contact between horses during the Jan. 2 parade and making sure they don't share water or equipment. Washington noted that they were also limiting their contact with humans, as while humans can't contract the virus, it can be transported on human hands.

The Equestfest event is televised and its performers typically include all of the horses in the parade, Washington said.

"It gives them an opportunity to display their talents and their beautiful horses above and beyond riding down the parade," Washington said.

Washington said that while the decision to cancel this year's event wasn't taken lightly, the idea of putting participants in a potentially harmful situation made the decision easy.

This story has been updated.