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Minister reveals publication of industry research at National Equine Forum

Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael chose last week’s prestigious National Equine Forum, attended by HRH The Princess Royal, to reveal the publication of a Report of Research on the Horse Industry in Great Britain.

The Report, produced by The Henley Centre and jointly funded by Defra and the British Horse Industry Confederation (BHIC), forms the basis on which a strategy for the industry will be formulated. It concludes that there is potential for real growth within the industry, with research initially estimating that the industry’s current gross output is approximately 3.4 billion, that 50,000 people are employed directly and a further 100,000 – 200,000 indirectly.

Defra and the BHIC have now begun work on the strategy for growth and are encouraging all those with equestrian interests to become involved. The strategy is scheduled for completion by spring 2005.

Haydn Price DipWCF presented a revealing paper on foot balance and the farrier, delivering a hard-hitting message to both owners and his own profession. He emphasised the ability of farriers to affect positively the performance of the horse, through close observation of the horse in motion. This was dramatically illustrated to the audience by the use of a computer-based tool called ‘the equinalysis system’. He emphasised that contrary to popular belief it is possible for a farrier to extend the working life of the equine, or enhance performance capabilities if careful attention is applied to the understanding of locomotion.

Each year The National Equine Forum plays host to the winner of the highly regarded Eqvalan Equine Thesis of the Year competition. This year Hannah Haskew provided a strongly researched and revealing presentation on ‘the effect of different coloured ramp matting on loading behaviour in horses’. The study, carried out as part of ongoing research into equine colour vision at Nottingham Trent University, concluded that green instead of traditional black matting could be used to encourage horses to load more willingly.

The National Equine Forum is the only independent conference for the horse world in the UK. It is not a lobbying organisation. Its major function is to identify important topics and provide an opportunity to hear all sides of complex issues. An invitation-only event, it has become so popular that the spacious venue was full to capacity this year.

Further information on the National Equine Forum can be obtained from Ailsa Chambers, NEF Secretary, ACHAMBERS@WARKSCOL.AC.UK Further information on the Equine Industry Report and the proposed strategy can be obtained at


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