The National Equine Database (NED) has finally gone live to UK Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs), whose staff can input and amend details directly on the system. But the venture needs more breeding and competition data to succeed.

“The critical mass for voluntary data to be held in NED before it can go live to the public is 60%,” said Jan Rogers, head of equine development at the British Equestrian Federation (BEF). “At present, it sits at 53% and we are reviewing the impact this has on the launch date of NED Online. Quantity and quality of competition and breeding data represents the value of the system — we have to have it.”

Many competition-orientated PIOs, such as Scottish Sport Horse (SSH), are already willingly giving voluntary data to NED. SSH studbook manager Liz Davies told H&H she was fully behind the system.

“We’re supplying breed and grading data — it’s all on our website already,” she said. “It’s up to us as a breed society to support it. If it helps us to sell our horses in future then we should do our best to get it right.”

But others remain cautious about providing voluntary data. SHB(GB) lawyers have been looking at the terms and conditions of supplying voluntary data to NED for some months.

“For now we will input mandatory data,” said Catherine Burdock, SHB(GB) secretary. “We are meeting our lawyers and NED on 30 August to discuss breeding and competition data.”

The BSJA has reservations, too. Spokesman Jacky Knightley said details of breeding and total winnings would be supplied, but people would need to ask the BSJA for individual breakdowns of competition data. To date the BSJA charges for such details.

For NED to succeed, it has to be available to the public by spring 2007, when DEFRA funding on the project runs out. The “public face” of the system is almost ready, according to Jan Rogers, and dates for a public launch are under discussion.

“Feedback from PIOs is going directly to the NED support team, and problems are minimal — it’s a user-friendly system,” said Jan. “There are always concerns when launching a project, but there’s reasonable support from the industry.”