International equine charity, World Horse Welfare, together with The British Horse Society and Horsescotland, exhibited at the Scottish Parliament to highlight the importance of equine identification to the health and welfare of Scottish horses.

The trio of organisations used the opportunity to urge MSPs to support an improved digitalised and enforceable equine ID system to ensure all horses are identifiable and traceable.

The move from the current paper-based system, which is open to fraud, to a digital service will ensure frictionless trade and movement of equines across borders for those moving their equines compliantly and disrupt the trade in smuggled horses.

These improvements will mean that real-time updates can be made to individual records, enabling horses, ponies and donkeys to be traced quickly and effectively – crucial in the event of a disease outbreak, when they stray or in instances of theft and ownership disputes.

The team spoke to 56 MSPs over three days and were sponsored by Sharon Dowey, MSP for South Scotland.

Kim Ayling, Senior Public Affairs Officer at World Horse Welfare said: “The exhibition in the Scottish Parliament gave us a fantastic opportunity to engage with MSPs from all political parties and representing constituencies from the borders to Orkney. We were delighted that almost 50 percent of the current members of the Scottish Parliament spoke to us about the importance of equine identification to the health and welfare of Scotland’s horses, ponies and donkeys.

“The challenges that current horse owners face with a paper-based process that is too complex, costly and takes too long were highlighted, and it was encouraging that many supported the move to a digitalised system.

“This is key to protecting Scottish equines from disease threats and disrupting the trade in vulnerable horses being smuggled out of the country in horrific conditions to an unknown fate. As a sector we will continue to work together and now need to build on this increased awareness among MSPs to help drive forward an improved equine ID system.”

With a consultation on the digitalisation of cattle identification and traceability currently being undertaken in Scotland, the Scottish equine sector is calling on the Scottish Government to follow suit for horses, ponies and donkeys.

Headline photo: (Left to right) World Horse Welfare Field Officer Leanne McPake, MSP for South Scotland Sharon Dowey and Chair of Horsescotland John Burns.

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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