LAST week, veterinary surgeons, stud owners and breeders were invited to the Irish National Stud to hear four presentations on a range of innovations changing the face of equine monitoring and breeding. An esteemed group of speakers including Dr Emma Adam, Dr Barbara Murphy, Bosco Cowley MVB and Dr Jennifer Corley, delivered a number of thought-provoking presentations detailing a range of cutting-edge breeding technologies.

Dr Jennifer Corley, co-founder of EquiTrace, hosted the event with a warm welcome and gave an overview of the impressive horse health track and trace system she co-founded in 2019. Dr Kevin and Jennifer Corley are both specialist equine vets and have already produced some of the leading apps for vets.The couple understand first-hand how such technology can make a major impact on global problems in horse health and welfare.

EquiTrace is now in use across Europe, America and Canada. Integration with the United States Jockey Club, as well as one of the best ways to solve the challenges of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) for US veterinarians, is leading the company to rapid growth. The company has been recognised as an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start Up and has recently brought in Killian Gaffney, the popular rider and successful executive from the pharmaceutical world, as CEO to lead the next phase of development.

EquiTrace and breeding

THE EquiTrace App allows rapid access to a horse’s medical records. Having a digital record that approved staff can update and access while standing with the horse is a game-changer for horse health. EquiTrace allows staff access to live information on every aspect of a horse’s health with no paperwork, automatic medication recording and the option to schedule rechecks and reminders for treatments. The app has a database of over 1,000 medications recognisable by barcode, and an algorithm programmed to help vets calculate a safe withdrawal time for competition horses.

Mare management

Linked to the horse’s microchip, EquiTrace eradicates identity errors and eliminates human error. EquiTrace is already approved by the IHRB as a way of recording medication. Leading trainers such as Dermot Weld have found this an efficient alternative to the ‘blue book’. Last season saw the launch of the EquiTrace mare management feature. This was rapidly adopted by leading studs such as Claiborne, Lane’s End and Three Chimneys. The studs found the system invaluable, saving time, reducing phone calls and allowing everyone to know exactly the status of each mare on the farm at any time.

Lane’s End director Louise Roden said: “Lane’s End Farm has used the reproductive version of the EquiTrace app this year and highly recommends it. The real-time information and scheduling have been invaluable, it is effective and efficient helping us to streamline our daily routine. The EquiTrace team have been brilliant, quick to answer any questions and queries, and have been open to suggestions to help adapt the reporting side to fill our needs.”

Reproductive examinations

The EquiTrace mare module is suitable for recording all mare reproductive examinations. The app has been designed by specialist veterinarians and follows the mare’s cycle with a smart algorithm to ensure the necessary checks are scheduled and recorded. EquiTrace keeps the team exactly up to date on the mare’s status and treatments, helping to keep farm fertility rates high. EquiTrace backs up all data, securely encrypted to the cloud instantly. Success with the leading studs in Kentucky has led to requests for EquiTrace integrating with the US Jockey Clubs Horse Farm Management system which is underway.


BOSCO Cowley of MSD Animal Health gave a talk on their new Thermochip which allows contactless body temperature recording. EquiTrace, who are commercial partners of Merck Animal Health (known as MSD elsewhere), can capture temperatures from the new microchips as they measure body temperature without touching the horse.

The app presents the data on a graph and studs have found these show very clear trends in an individual’s temperature which allows staff to identify very quickly when an animal is becoming unwell. Every time an animal is scanned the GPS position is recorded, as well as temperature, which is ideal in the event of a disease outbreak. Animals can be rapidly identified and isolated. In another presentation, Dr Emma Adam of Kentucky University discussed the advantages of EquiTrace connected to the Thermochips when dealing with Rotavirus highlighting that non-contact, paperless system for monitoring helps to prevent disease spread.

New strain of Rotavirus

DELIVERING a fascinating presentation, Dr. Emma Adam of the University of Kentucky discussed the research and current treatments for a newly discovered strain of Rotavirus. Rotavirus is a cause of serious, life threatening diarrhoea in neonates in many species including young foals. A conditionally licensed vaccine has helped prevent Rotavirus A diarrhoea in young foals, however a new rotavirus strain affecting foals was discovered in 2021 for which the current vaccine confers no protection.

Research at the Gluck Equine Research Center, University of Kentucky is aimed at developing a vaccine. Until then, Dr Adam stressed that biosecurity measures are our only tools to control this highly contagious virus on horse farms. Part of successful biosecurity programmes has been to reduce physical contact with foals in the first week of life. Employing hands-free methods to measure foals’ temperatures has been made possible with bio-thermal chips.

Dr Nathaniel A White II, a director at the Equine Disease Communication Center, said: “The product [EquiTrace plusThermochips] are a game-changer for improving horse health. Anytime rapid access to timely information can be kept in one central location, it improves horse medical care.”

Equilume for improved results

EQUILUME provides breeders with simple to use award-winning light masks and smart stable lights that ensure maximum success for breeding programmes, as well as the best health and well-being for horses. As we approach the 2023 season, Dr Barbara Murphy, head of Equine Science at University College Dublin and creator of the Equilume mask, highlighted the steps we can take to optimise breeding efficiency in spring using blue light. Correct use of light therapy regimes can have many benefits for our breeding stock. In the thoroughbred sector, early ovulations mean the production of early season foals and increases in the economic value of youngstock. In the sport horse sector, timely conception means less disruption of competition schedules, reduced workload managing multiple cycles and increases the chances of success using valuable semen.

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