Where does your horse live, how often does it travel, where does it go — and for what purpose?

Researchers began collating such data in a 28-month survey launched in January by Defra and the University of Glasgow in case of an outbreak of an infectious equine disease, like African Horse Sickness, in the UK.

But further information is needed about leisure horses.

Lisa Boden, from Glasgow University’s faculty of veterinary medicine, told H&H: “We have collected data from equestrian organisations, like the British Horse Society and the British Horseracing Authority.

“This is helping us create a better picture of where horses are genuinely located, rather than where their owners live.

“But we need help from the leisure horse industry to find out where their horses are, where they go, when and why.”

An online survey will be launched next month and H&H readers are encouraged to take part.

Dr Boden said they do not intend to locate every horse in the UK, but need more information about the number of horses in each postcode area.

A Defra spokesman said: “This research is being carried out with the aim of Defra being better prepared to control a disease outbreak should one occur.”

The study dovetails with work being undertaken by the Animal Health Trust, to assess the accuracy of the National Equine Database (news, 22 April).

British Equine Veterinary Association president Dr Madeleine Campbell said: “Traceability of horses is key to managing any disease outbreak.”

Further information about the online survey will be published in H&H when it becomes available.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (23 September, ’10)