An Australian racehorse owner and breeder has developed an app that aims to give all domesticated horses a traceable digital footprint, particularly in the event of a disease outbreak.
Clive Smith, who has owned and bred thoroughbred racehorses for the past 20 years, says the Horse Passport app he designed and developed solves the issues of horse traceability in the event of disease outbreaks and biosecurity threats.
“Zoonotic diseases are increasing at an alarming rate,” Smith said.
“If the last decade and more recent events, including the Equine Herpes Virus outbreak in Europe, are anything to go by, the threat of yet another major equine disease outbreak is very real, and the time to prepare is now.
“We were all going along fine before Covid-19 came, but when it did become a problem, we were looking to the Government to say: ‘What are you going to go about it?’, Smith said.
“We’ll be looking to the Government when something like Covid-19 hits in the horse industry as well and they won’t have a solution.”
Smith is of the view that as soon a horse is born, its information and location should be entered into a secure central portal to create its own digital footprint that can be added to throughout the horse’s lifetime.
Launched in response to the Equine Influenza outbreak in Australia in 2007, the Horse Passport app enables horse owners and specialist equine professionals to log and validate a horse’s movements, including when ownership changes.
He said Horse Passport was the first digital platform in the Australian horse industry that provides a paperless automated capability to log the location of any horse, anywhere, at any time.
“Before another major equine disease outbreak occurs, the horse industry in Australia and globally needs to leverage the solutions offered by digital technology.”
In addition to helping curb major equine disease outbreaks and improving horse welfare standards, the Horse Passport app also aims to support the financial viability of the horse health industry.
“If every domesticated horse had its own digital footprint, such as that enabled by the Horse Passport app, largescale lockdowns would become obsolete as the industry would be able to enact disease management processes faster and more efficiently.
“Horse owners and specialist equine professionals, including equine veterinarians, who may come into contact with infected horses, will be able to rely on accurate data to determine the level of risk, hopefully preventing the loss of lives and livelihoods.”
Smith said that if authorities were serious about horse welfare, traceability and biosecurity, some basic principles needed to change, “starting with cultural change and the adoption of a digital footprint leveraging smartphone technology linked to a unified system”.
Smith said the app provides a digital record of a horse, its vaccinations, movements and management throughout its life, and if sales were logged it would provide proof of ownership.
“The solution needs to be secure, the participants and horse facilities licensed and governed by independent entities,” Smith said, and using its full capabilities would enable improved management of any future disease outbreaks.
The Horse Passport app is available now on the App Store and Google Play. Horse Passport is for horse owners and those who provide care on behalf of owners. The cost is $A1.99 per month for one horse; five horses are $A6.99, and 20 horses are $A9.99/month. Extra options include GPS tracking.
There is another version, Horse Passport SP, for specialist equine professionals.