Buyers and sellers on the ground this week at Fasig-Tipton’s Newtown Paddocks may have noticed signs for a fast-growing company called EquiTrace. Launched in 2019, the EquiTrace app not only identifies horses using a microchip scanner, but also provides management and traceability solutions for horse farms and horse organizations.
Dr. Kevin Corley, a veterinary specialist in equine medicine and resuscitation, was one of the key founders of EquiTrace and said the idea for the product stemmed from the industry’s inefficiency in identifying horses, which had led to several high-profile confusions in recent years. With further development, EquiTrace has expanded not only as an identification method, but also as a management tool for farm managers, trainers and other equine organizations.
“When we started EquiTrace, we started with the foundation of identification and then worked to address other issues including traceability, medication and what happens to a horse after a race,” Corley explained. “We’ve worked to build a system that provides real value to the people who use it, but also has the side benefits of helping the entire industry.”
EquiTrace was first released in Europe and incorporated into many leading stud farms there, but is now gaining traction in the US and has been released for use at top farms in Kentucky, including Lane’s End Farm. The product has already been used at Goffs Bloodstock Sales, but Fasig-Tipton is the first Thoroughbred auction house in the US to partner with EquiTrace. At the Fasig-Tipton Horses of All Ages and Selected Yearlings sales in July, all horses entered were identified and registered via the EquiTrace app.
Anna Seitz of Fasig-Tipton was the first member of the Fasig-Tipton team to learn about the product. She admitted she had initial reservations, but was eager to learn more as soon as she saw the app in action.
“I brought everyone from Fasig-Tipton and showed it to them,” she said. “We all said we need to get behind this immediately because it’s something that should have happened 10 years ago. It’s cutting edge and a really positive thing for the industry. I truly believe this is something we will all be using for the next few years. They are a great company to work for and we are very happy to partner with them.”
“I think for Fasig-Tipton, it creates a system where they can 100 percent support it and make everything more efficient to register horses,” Corley added. “You have a verifiable chain of how that horse was identified by that person at that point. This speeds up the process of ensuring the right horse enters the commercial network.”
The EquiTrace app works through the use of microchips, which are required by The Jockey Club for all registered thoroughbred foals from 2017 and later. Using a scanner, the app quickly identifies the horse and displays its profile. From there, various information about that horse can be tracked and recorded.
“We’re trying to create really useful tools to capture information that anyone needs to run an efficient farm or training facility right at the sight of the horse,” Corley said. “Every time you scan the microchip, the app captures its GPS location. If you scan a horse as it dismounts from the van, you have a complete record of the horse’s movement. One of our customers got a call about a foal and he just looked at the horse on the app and could tell the vet which barn to go to.’
Medical records can be maintained on each horse’s page. EquiTrace recognizes over 1,000 products by scanning the medication barcode. Veterinarians and managers can administer the necessary treatment for a horse. As approved staff scan the horse, they will see the exact drug required, along with its dosage and suggested withdrawal time. Users can choose the state jurisdictions under which they compete to adjust drug directions.
Reproductive records can also be tracked through the app. Farm managers can maintain notes on each mare’s profile while the mare is being researched. This information is then easily accessible to other farm staff looking for up-to-date information on the horse.
While all of this data is available to horses with any type of microchip, additional information can be tracked by horses with the Merck Animal Health Bio-Thermo Microchip, which contains a biosensor that measures the horse’s body temperature.
“It’s a really powerful tool because with just one swipe of a microchip scanner, people can get their horse’s temperature and the data is instantly recorded in the app,” Corley explained. “As an internal medicine specialist, this worries me because we are all facing staff shortages and it is really difficult to take temperatures twice a day. With this system it is very practical and there are no errors. One of our customers said they recorded 18 temperatures in a minute and 19 seconds.
Looking ahead to the long-term benefits of EquiTrace, Corley said he believes expanded use in the industry will improve the traceability of horses after they retire from racing.
The approximate cost of the app is $2 per horse each month, with discounts available for farms with larger numbers.
“The idea is to give tools to the industry to help them at a price that we hope everyone can afford,” Corley noted. “We’ve been delighted with the initial reception in the States and are working to continue to grow it.”
To learn more about EquiTrace, click here.