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5 Ways Big Data Can Save the Horse Industry

The horse industry is in trouble.  The number of horses being produced worldwide every year has dropped significantly.  In fact, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the world’s equine population dropped by 1 million horses per year between 2009 and 2011 alone.  Public interest over the years in equestrian sports has tanked.  So much so that the International Olympic Committee is considering whether or not equestrian sports will continue to be included in the Games.  We are on the precipice of industry wide change.  A solution is needed and it is coming in the form of Big Data.

Big Data is a very popular term being used across all industries.  It could be defined as a large volume of data, both structured and unstructured, that is analyzed to reveal patterns, trends, and associations.  Until now in the horse industry, data has been kept in “data silos” or databases that do not interact with each other.  Some of this data includes horse registration and identification, location, competition results, breeding approvals, DNA results, and more.  Each organization has kept its data private in an endeavor to maintain control.  However, we live in a new age of social media and technological advancement where data sharing is prevalent.  There is more strength now in networking and sharing data than in maintaining information in “data silos”.  Here are 5 key ways that Big Data can save the horse industry:

  • Supports growth

Information is knowledge and knowledge is power.  Growth in any industry is fueled by data.  The more data and information that can be aggregated and combined, the easier it will be to target problem areas in the industry and solutions can be constructed.  Consumer confidence increases with positive solutions found through big data.  And when consumer confidence increases…the industry grows.

  • Prevents fraud

Fraudulent representation of horse identities has long been a rampant problem in the industry.  Being able to verify the name, registration number, microchip number (when possible), age, pedigree, etc. through big data provides a high level of positive identification and creates roadblocks for fraud.

  • Generates public interest

One of the biggest reasons the public is not interested in equestrian sports is…they don’t understand the data.  Sports results are reported in a way understood by fellow equestrians, but it doesn’t easily translate to the public.  In addition, competition results are split into disciplines, then further into competition organizations promoting the discipline, and even further into specific competitions and classes.  This causes equestrian sports results to be so siloed, that the public doesn’t understand it and loses interest.  Through big data, these results can be combined under the horse’s identity and provides the big picture of the horse as an athlete and creates an emotional bond with the public.  It also creates sports analytics and statistics, which engages viewers.  Public interest increases when the sport is easily understood and inspirational.  Big data can bring this connection.

  • Protects horse welfare

Thousands of horses are lost through the cracks every year.  Big data can connect the dots in a horse’s life – identity, experience, and previous owners just to name a few.  Being able to positively identify a horse is the first step to providing aid in situations of theft, abuse, and natural disaster.  A higher level of horse welfare can be provided through big data.

  • Disease prevention and control

Because the data from all the organizations in the horse industry is kept separate, it makes tracking horse locations and transportation patterns challenging if not impossible.  Being able to conclusively track what horses come into contact at what locations is essential in times of disease outbreak in order to prevent further outbreak.  Big data enables all of this information from multiple databases to be compiled and reports generated to assist in prevention efforts.


The future of the equine industry is Big Data, and the future is now.

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