First digital passport issued to foal as equestrian world embraces technology

  • The first digital equine passport has been issued to a foal (pictured, below) as the equestrian world leans further on technology to monitor horse movement and welfare.

    The colt, by Calyx out of a Skipinnish mare, was born on 14 February at Julian Richmond-Watson’s Lawn Stud and has become the first horse to be issued with a Weatherbys ePassport. All thoroughbred foals born in Britain and Ireland this year will be issued with their own ePassport.

    The first foal to receive a Weatherby’s ePassport

    “The importance of the Weatherbys ePassport cannot be understated and we see it as a central part of the welfare and traceability strategy for Irish racing over the coming years,” said Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland.

    In a nutshell, the Weatherbys ePassport is a single, secure platform for all regulatory and legislative requirements relating to identification, health, welfare, movement, and ownership. It can be downloaded from Android and Apple app stores.

    There is provision in the new EU animal health law that could allow for digital equine passports to be accepted. Experts have also previously shared hopes that these could help ease some of the red tape involved with travelling horses abroad now the Brexit transition period has ended.

    Some elements of the Weatherbys ePassport are already in use. These include vaccination and horse location, to support the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Horse Racing Ireland with their “return to racing” protocols last year.

    This same technology has also helped trace the movement of breeding stock.

    “The vaccination functionality within the Weatherbys ePassport played an important role within the protocols that allowed for racing to resume last year,” said BHA director of equine health and welfare, James Given.

    “The additional functionality that comes with the full rollout of the ePassport will be vital for the traceability of thoroughbreds – a central pillar of our horse welfare strategy.”

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    The ePassport now includes functions for registering stallions, mares and foals, medication, ownership updates and full identification details. Vets will also be able to access the app, to update medical information.

    Claire Sheppard, chief executive of the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association (TBA), added: “The movement functionality within the Weatherbys ePassport was hugely important when it came to maintaining the movement and traceability of stock during the 2020 and 2021 breeding season as part of the TBA’s Covid-19 protocols.

    “The enhanced functionality within the ePassport will bring many more benefits to breeders and the thoroughbred industry, and we welcome its introduction.

    “We will be working closely with Weatherbys and breeders to ensure an effective rollout and application of this exciting new technology.”

    • What do you think about how the equestrian world moving into the digital age? Let us know about your experiences by writing to hhletters@futurenet.com for a chance to see your views in H&H magazine and you could win a bottle of Champagne Taittinger (please include your name, nearest town and county; letters may be edited).

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