Horses are an important part of Australian culture. From working horses, to the racetrack, performance horses and weekend leisure riding. We’ve long depended on them to get tough jobs done, admired their athletic ability and enjoyed their company.
Yet despite this close connection, we know very little about our equine partners. It’s been estimated that there were 1.2 million horses in Australia in 2001 but nobody really knows.
Currently, there are no reliable records of equine provenance. The racing industry has reliable records, but these apply only up to the end of a horses’ racing career. Breed society records are only as good as the owners’ diligence to register and update. Clubs and associations rely on rider information and, unfortunately, owners’ information provided to perspective buyers must often be taken at face value.
The reality is that it is common not to know, with certainty, key facts such as age, previous owners, performance history, health and management history and any problematic behavioural issues.
Unreliable, fragmented and hard to access information, creates process inefficiencies that have a negative impact across the industry. Furthermore, it’s not hard to see that horses with incomplete or inaccurate records are of lower value and higher risk than those with more reliable histories. These issues impact the reputation of peak bodies, which in turn detracts from their ability to attract and service members. Importantly, membership revenue is key to the sustainability of these equine organisations.
The disconnect between information has had a quantifiable financial impact on the Equestrian Industry. Equine Influenza cost the Australian Government approximately $380 million in 2007.
Arguably, the processes and systems in place to react effectively to a biosecurity event remain inadequate.
The industry has been trying and failing to the challenge of data and information fragmentation for years.
Recently a Senate Enquiry (“The feasibility of a National Horse Traceability Register for all horses”) renewed focus on the problem. However, it is not the first time there’s been discussion of a centralised national database and the reality is that this approach is no closer to fruition than when arguments first started.
Why is this?
The industry has never been given a satisfactory answer to one simple question: “why would we hand our data to government, what is the benefit to us?” Neither have horse owners been answered when the have asked: “why should I be compelled to enter data, what is the benefit to me?”
This – the area of data ownership – is where equiprove is different. We’re not asking the industry and owners to give up their data to a centralised database. equiprove will store its users’ data and license its use but unlike traditional systems – and especially centralised databases – equiprove will not own its users’ data. This ground-breaking concept is a key feature of the new system and is underlined by respect for the user.
Digitalising the equine industry will provide fast and easy access to secure reliable information about horses, riders, owners, breeders, instructors, events and venues. It promises to become a trusted foundation for everything from biosecurity and rider safety to competition performance and horse health management.
We’re building equiprove because providing confidence in the provenance of a horse is good for everybody who loves these animals, whether they rely on them to earn a living or just count every minute until they can get back to the stable next weekend. This contemporary knowledge platform will tell you everything you need to know, and information can be accessed easily from any device whenever and wherever you need it.
We understand that people are reluctant to change things that have been done the same way for as long as anybody can remember. Change is never easy but without change we cannot move forward. This is not a pipe dream: segments of the agricultural and food industry are already using contemporary technology to track products from paddock to plate. And that’s what equiprove will do for the life events of a horse, thereby establishing its provenance.
The benefits of establishing provenance in the equine industry are so great that they cannot be ignored. Let’s start with the people buying horses. They’re clamouring for records that will prove the value of their assets and protect them from expensive mistakes.
If you bought a new Mercedes and sold it five years later with a complete service history, it would be worth much more than an identical car without the paperwork. This transparency simply doesn’t exist today when buying or selling a horse.
This is particularly concerning for parents buying horses for their children or sending them off to riding schools. They have no idea where these horses have come from or how they’ve been treated in the past. On too many occasions, the lack of information on background and, in particular behavioural issues, has posed a serious safety risk for the rider. They’re potentially lethal for those who are young and inexperienced.
Insuring horses is also prohibitively expensive, which is another major concern because these are not trivial investments. Some people own a horse that’s worth more than their car but don’t insure it because the premiums are so high. Providing proof that a horse hasn’t had poorly managed health issues, suffered serious injury or experienced behavioural issues will bring these premiums down, which in turn will increase the numbers of horses being insured, which will bring premiums down further.
There’s also enormous benefit for top-tier peak bodies and organisations like Racing Australia, Equestrian Australia, Pony Club Australia and breed societies.
After racing, a horse’s career can affect the racing industry’s reputation and integrity. Many, if not most, end up going on to be successful performance horses, brood mares or pleasure horses. A number are unfit for re-purposing and need to humanely managed. However, public perception is that the welfare management of races horses, at the end of their racing life, is poor. equiprove will assist in maintaining the industry’s integrity and credibility, by providing proof of where these horses end up.
equiprove will join the dots and get organisations digitalised. This will greatly improve the efficiency of the equestrian industry, which generates large volumes of event data that gets recorded on the day and then manually entered into systems. Human error and double-handling would be eliminated. Easy and timely access to information would help improve service delivery and generate new services.
Improving safety is a major consideration for Australia’s pony clubs. There’s currently no need to have a horse registered, which is a massive issue when these animals are primarily ridden by children still learning the basics.
equiprove will help breeders with digital records of breeding and performance histories, improving processes and developing better animals. Stronger, faster and healthier horses will naturally be worth more money at sale time and pump more money back into the industry.
Paper-based records are unreliable, and Australia’s lack of technology systems puts it way behind horse industries like Europe. But the good news is that we have a blank canvas to deliver incredible change and equiprove is coming to deliver the change that’s needed.
equiprove will deliver significant benefits to horse owners and breeders. Using equiprove will improve the integrity of the information about the horses that we enjoy so much; whether for racing, performance or just weekend leisure. equiprove will maintain and notarise the provenance of a horse. This will give new insights into the value of the equine asset. This will in turn improve the confidence that buyers and sellers have about the horse that they are buying or selling. This confidence will boost levels of safety. Improved information means improved transparency of a horse’s history. And, finally equiprove will provide a platform that will facilitate improvements in biosecurity practices and protection.
It’s time for change.
equiprove is bringing certainty and confidence to the Australian the horse industry.