Tracking rides and journeys could boost horse health – and win you £500

  • Tracking and recording your horses’ movements could help protect the national herd, now and in future – and win you £500.

    Equine Register, which runs the Central Equine Database (CED) for the Government, and the Royal Veterinary College are asking riders to contribute to a digital record of horses’ journeys. It is hoped this will support better biosecurity, by alerting people about infectious disease outbreaks and helping prevent spread.

    “But it could do much more,” a spokesman for the scheme said. “The data could help scientists gain insights into the transmission and spreading of infectious diseases by analysing patterns and data. This could facilitate the creation of much more intelligent monitoring and management tools than ever before.

    “Equine Register has teamed up with the RVC to launch a research project that does exactly that: develop a better understanding of the spread of infectious diseases, which will help us find intelligent solutions for the future.”

    The spokesman cited recent cases of infectious disease, such as the major outbreak of equine flu in 2019, and the “devastating” equine herpes virus (EHV) in continental Europe two years later.

    “The worrying reality is, with increased travelling and return to busy schedules, the next outbreak of any number of equine infectious diseases is only around the corner,” he said. “And the questions we need to ask ourselves are: how prepared are we? And how can we protect our horses better?”

    The spokesman said these outbreaks show that “tried and tested methods of disease control, which rely heavily on vaccination and physical paperwork are no longer the only way forward”. He cited the vaccine supply issues of last year, and the fact that paperwork is “not always reliable and too slow and cumbersome”.

    The new scheme involved riders’ downloading the CED “digital stable” app, and using the “record my ride” or “record my journey” functions to record all movements, from hacks to trips to competitions, training or other activities.

    RVC associate professor in epidemiology Jackie Cardwell said: “The RVC is grateful for the vital work of Equine Register in facilitating this important research. By gaining a much better understanding of how equine infections are spread between horses during normal equestrian activities, we can develop more intelligent solutions for the future that will ensure we can all get out and about safely with our horses in years to come.”

    “We partnered with Equine Register because their expertise and digital ability are key to this ground-breaking study.”

    Equine Register chief business officer Stephanie Palmer said it was an honour to work with the RVC on the project.

    “Everything we do at Equine Register is geared around protecting the national herd by supporting every single horse owner, rider and equestrian professional in this country,” she said. “Digital solutions hold the answer to how equestrianism can evolve to the benefit of everyone.”

    Equine Register has also launched the prize campaign; everyone who takes part in the project by recording rides and journeys will be entered in a draw to win £500. Equine Register will also make an equal donation to charity.

    “Our campaign is a fun way for everyone to get involved as we enjoy venturing out and about with our horses again,” Ms Palmer said. “The aim is to raise awareness about the importance of keeping all our horses safe and healthy and to give everyone a chance to play their part.

    “Supporting the vital work of our equine charities is important to us, and now more than ever they are threatened by the pressures of rising costs and lower donations. The campaign is about much more than just raising money, it is about creating more awareness and about encouraging more riders and owners to engage.”

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