Over 25 national horse organisation leaders met in Sydney recently to discuss The Future of Horse Research in Australia.
The Australian Horse Industry Council is managing a consultation project to discuss this most important issue with national horse industry representatives.
The Rural Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC) horse program has supported many research projects over the past 16 yrs, however a funding withdrawal threatens their very future.
“The AHIC is in a position to lead the national conversation about the values horse owners and organisations put on research.” said Dr Roger Lavelle, President of the AHIC. “Common ground across all industry sectors, such as health, biosecurity and welfare provided our starting point.”
Preparation for the workshop included design of posters outlining some key areas where research has had a high impact, including safety in eventing, prevention of horse deaths through laminitis and improved management information for stud managers to aid prevention of abortion in mares on properties suffering from hairy caterpillar infestations.
An online survey was also conducted, with over 930 horse owners responding. The survey provided insight into priorities for research as identified by people who own or ride horses. Horse health, land management, nutrition and biosecurity featured as key issues.
The workshop outcome determined that horse research does have a future in Australia.
Importantly, the participants were open to supporting national coordination of horse research and investigation of permanent funding options to ensure long-term viability.
“I found the meeting to be extremely successful, the presenters were clear and set a very good atmosphere. The topics given at the meeting and the pre information sent out, clarified the reasons and importance of funding for Horse Research.” said Dianne Bennit, Chair of Western Australia Horse Council and presenter of “Talking Horses” radio show. “I also found the opportunity to meet and network with the other organisations useful.”
“It was wonderful to see the strong level of support from a wide range of horse bodies for ongoing engagement about how nationally coordinated horse research might be managed in the future for the benefit of Australian horses.” said Nigel Perkins, Manager Horse R&D Program, RIRDC.
Following evaluation of the final workshop project report, the potential exists for a broader national consultation to commence during 2012. This will allow for individuals, the corporate sector and further horse organisations to join the conversation.
Photo Credits Left to Right: Dr Chris Pollitt, University of QLD,
Dr Chris Pollitt, Barry O'Brien, Dr Chris Pollitt