News from the National Equine Forum included the introduction of the Central Equine Database’s ‘digital stable’, which has been welcomed by both World Horse Welfare and the British Horse Council...
A “visionary” change to the Central Equine Database (CED) has the potential to benefit owners, businesses, sports and, most importantly, the horses themselves.
Defra minister Lord Gardiner announced at the National Equine Forum on 5 March that owners will be able to change passport information themselves through the CED’s “digital stable”, free.
While owners may still update details through passport-issuing organisations (PIOs) as they can currently, the changes are aimed at making it easier for them to ensure that information held by PIOs on themselves and their horses is correct.
“The digital stable is protected by rigorous security and identity checks to ensure owners’ information and equine records are safe,” a spokesman for the CED told H&H. “It is designed with owners in mind to make it easy to manage and keep records legal and up to date.”
Once updated, the digital stable will automatically notify the relevant PIO of the changes, so owners no longer have to send passports back to the PIO. The digital stable will send a digital record to the owner’s smartphone, which will be valid to confirm a horse’s identity while it remains in the UK.
“This new digital approach will see the UK at the forefront of equine traceability and enable more effective biosecurity, disease control, fraud management and human food chain safety,” the spokesman said. “It will also enable owners to take control of their horses’ information and manage it in real time, as they do with other online accounts.”
Asked at the forum whether this change would make a difference, World Horse Welfare CEO Roly Owers said he thinks it will be “transformational”.
“You can’t hold people to account for the way they treat their horses if you can’t prove ownership,” he said, adding that people need to understand the benefits of the CED and digital stable to the “everyday horse owner”.
British Horse Council chairman David Mountford told H&H the council is “thrilled” by the news.
“A functioning and accurate equine database has the potential to bring huge benefits to owners, sporting bodies, equestrian businesses and, most importantly, to horse health and welfare,” he said.
“As owners, we have historically been pretty awful at keeping PIOs appraised of changes such as address, ownership, gelding or death; we’ve also frequently ignored the requirement to register imported horses. Now, we will have no excuse for ignoring our legal obligations – updating our records and registering horses passported in Ireland or other EU countries will be easy and free.”
The changes are expected to come in this month, alongside a government campaigning promoting it and the October deadline for chipping all equines in England.
Stewart Everett, CEO of Equine Register which operates the CED, said: “Owners can still contact PIOs to make changes, but our initial tests show less than 10% of the data supplied to the CED by PIOs is likely to be correct. Aside from putting owners and horses at risk, if a horse gets loose or is stolen, this increases the risks to horse health and disease containment.”
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