Thumbs down for horse 'passports'

Last updated 14:22 25/07/2013

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Kaikoura

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So-called horse passports would be disastrous for small A and P associations such as Kaikoura, Jenny Wards says.

Mrs Wards, a committee member and stock and station sector convenor, reported on the idea at last week's Kaikoura A and P Association annual meeting.

It emerged from a proposed rule change at a meeting of the Royal Agricultural Society a few weeks ago, attended by herself and another Kaikoura member.

The purpose of the passport is to help stop cheating and its main feature would be to have all horses micro-chipped for identity security.

Mrs Wards said horses were entered in show classes according to height. There was a perception that smaller horses in a class were disadvantaged in competition and people "go to all sorts of extreme lengths" to get their horses under height.

"It seems that some people have gone to different measuring places to try to find someone who might be more lenient [on the height]," she said.

The issue is more keenly felt in top competition such as Horse of the Year and at the national royal show, but in order to tackle it any new rule must be introduced across the board.

Mrs Wards said the cost of microchipping would be prohibitive for many people, and especially for families with more than one child riding. Kaikoura horse owners now go to Amuri or Blenheim for measuring days, on top of which they would then have to visit the vet for micro-chipping.

"At shows like ours this would mean a child with a pony in the back paddock couldn't turn up and be measured on the day because they would have to provide micro-chipped proof of [the animal's] identity," she said. Problems had already been encountered with microchips not being found within the horse because they had moved, and Mrs Wards said that apart from possible disqualification, and the cost of travel to an event, this could pose serious health issues.

"We are dead against it.

"It would be the end of a lot of small shows like ours.

"It's about kids being able to go to shows and learn from others."

She said some small associations had considered breaking away from the RAS and operating independently, but that would require a minefield of legal and constitutional issues to be worked through.

The groundswell of opposition to micro-chipping horses had been such that she believed the idea had been put on the back burner.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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