New “digital stable” tracks horses in cyberspace

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A new digital stable system is to be introduced into Britain next month to keep a track of all horses in the country.

The Central Equine Database’s (CED) Digital Stable is a data checking and verification system that allows owners and keepers to manage their equine data, with the aim of providing better disease prevention, control and welfare through improved traceability.

Created by Equine Register for Defra’s Central Equine Database, the new Digital Stable and Veterinary Application will mean that vets will be able to locate horses and communicate directly with the keepers of those horses, bringing more confidence to biosecurity issues.

The initiative was announced at last week’s National Equine Forum in London.

David Mountford, Chief Executive of the British Equine Veterinary Association, explained that the CED, Digital Stable and Equine Register’s Veterinary Application would bring more confidence to biosecurity issues. “We will have the potential to trace movement, enabling us to control disease outbreaks,” he said.

Delegates at the 2019 National Equine Forum in London.
Delegates at the 2019 National Equine Forum in London. © Craig Payne Photography

Dr Eva Maria Broomer of the Anglo European Studbook, said the CED and Digital Stable would be of benefit to all studbooks.

“A lot of horses have a number of studbooks associated with them. The benefit to the owner is that the Digital Stable will enable them to request that their data is updated through a single portal. The benefit to various studbooks is that we will all be informed once the data is approved by the controlling studbook, enabling all the studbooks associated with that horse to keep their data accurate and up to date and maintain a dialogue with the owner.”

Nic de Brauwere, Head of Welfare at Redwings Horse Sanctuary said he felt that the CED and Digital Stable also provided an opportunity to educate horse owners who may be hard to reach and who may need help with management concerns.

Equine Register Chief Executive Stewart Everett urged horse owners to check the data that is held on them, to ensure it is correct. “One message you should take away from today – in order to protect you and your equines, please use the Digital Stable to ensure the data that is held about you on the CED is accurate.

During the forum’s equine health update Dr Richard Newton, Director of Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance at the Animal Health Trust discussed learnings from the recent equine influenza outbreak. Lessons learned from the 40+ confirmed outbreaks suggested that laboratory capacity needed to be scaled up so when dealing with a new threat a lot more swab samples can be processed. He agreed that the CED and the Digital Stable should bring a great benefit through targeted disease messaging, vaccination record checking and pre-event registration to help halt the spread of disease. He concluded that vaccination and isolation are key, but that some of this messaging is being missed.

Brexit concerns aired

Lord Gardiner, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity at Defra opened proceedings at the forum with an update on Defra’s horse-related priorities in relation to Brexit. Defra has been working with the BHS and the British Horse Council to update the Code of Welfare and the licensing of Riding Schools. Defra has also been working closely with the Animal Health Trust on the global #onehealth initiative to mitigate the threats of zoonotic diseases and antimicrobial resistance.

Pamela Thompson Deputy Director for Portfolio and Preparedness at Defra presented a closer look at the implications of Brexit and what it may mean for the horse owner. She advised that in the event of Brexit owners should consult their vet six weeks before if they are planning to move an equine to the EU, explaining that they will need to pass through a Border Inspection Post, which may mean a travel route adjustment.

The day’s proceedings are being made available on www.nationalequineforum.com.

The 28th National Equine Forum will be held on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, One Birdcage Walk, Westminster, London.

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