Tipp Vet to Represent Ireland
Monday, 17 August 2009 09:49

Veterinary surgeon Dr Folke Rohrssen forsakes his busy south Tipperary mixed practice for three weeks this August to represent Ireland in the World Pair Driving Championship.

A prestigious bi-annual event held this year in Kecskemet, Hungary where carriage driving draws crowds of 200,000, hardly surprising given the host nation’s Magyar tradition of horsemanship.

“Carriage driving pairs is a truly exciting sport and competing for Ireland a huge honour, thought it is also a major commitment,” explained Folke in perfect English acquired, complete with Tipperary accent, since coming to Ireland in 1987 from Germany.

“We will be away for 22 days starting with a five day drive from Tipperary to a training camp within 20 miles of the competition grounds at Kecskemet. Then follows a week of acclimatisation and training before the competition from 19 to 23 August and that five day drive home.

Interchem Ireland area manager John Maloney, left, presents Tipperary vet Dr Folke Rohrssen with sponsorship, including Duvaxyn West Nile Virus Vaccine from Fort Dodge Animal Health, towards the cost of representing Ireland at the World Pair Driving Championships in Hungary. Pat O’Callaghan, managing director Interchem, noting that Irish horses have no natural immunity to West Nile Virus

“At international level pairs carriage driving is a costly sport, especially as it involves three horses, a pair and a spare! However support is coming in from the Irish Horse Board, practice clients and suppliers such as Interchem and Fort Dodge Animal Health.

“The very welcome package of support from Interchem Ireland Ltd and Fort Dodge Animal Health includes the just launched West Nile Virus vaccine Duvaxyn WNV. In fact ours are the first Irish horses to be vaccination against West Nile Virus before competing on the continent.

“Hungary has reported several cases, some fatal, of West Nile Virus in equines over this past two years. Though the risk of infection with this virus is relatively low, it’s still a threat, particularly as the competition is being held when the mosquito vectors are most active.

“Using Duvaxyn WNV vaccine now gives us time to complete the primary course and develop some degree of protection in our horses. Important as Irish equines have no natural immunity to West Nile Virus.

” Wishing Team Rohrssen all the best in their first world championship InterChem MD Pat O’Callaghan noted that, “Given the presence of West Nile Virus in some former Soviet bloc nations anyone taking horses into Eastern Europe should seek advice from their veterinary surgeon about vaccination with Duvaxyn WNZ, which offers immunological protection to vulnerable equines.

” For Folke carriage driving pairs is very much a sport involving all the family with 14 year old daughter Sophie, for example, enjoying the exciting role of back step groom. Indeed the youngest members of the Rohrssen family, twin boys aged two, are strapped into the rear seat during some training drives!

Though carriage driving had long interested the Stuttgart native it was only six year ago that the chance arose for Folke to try first single and then pairs horse carriage driving.

“Nothing quite matches the excitement of pairs carriage driving, especially with our Gelderlander horses, a Dutch breed used by over half those taking part in this sport. First bred in the Netherlands as stylish carriage horses that could also do some farm work the Gelderlander has a very impressive step, strong bones and great stamina with an ability to keep going even with a few knocks.

“They are very intelligent with a terrific willingness to learn, but like all horses competing at international level they require a major financial commitment. Hence, along with the other two teams from Ireland driven by Barry Capstick and Edwin Bryson we welcome further sponsorship,” emphasized Folke.

To see how you can support your national team in Hungary visit www.carriagedrivingireland.com