RECORD keeping can be an arduous task, whether it is for an equine business or the single horse owner, so why do it? Relying on your memory is not always accurate, especially over time or when several horses are involved, making record keeping essential in helping to identify problems early and save money. The types and detail of your records will depend on the type of business and the number of horses in your care.
Keeping detailed records allows you to make informed decisions, which can have a positive impact on the health and welfare of your horses whilst giving you the ability to analyse your finances. Records show what has happened in the past and provide information for you to plan ahead and promptly make changes that are required. There are some records that you may be legally required to keep, which will differ according to the type of equine business you are involved in. Passports, veterinary medicines and transportation are generally required for all horse owners and businesses.
Recording details of horse registration, such as passport number and microchip number, is useful when horses are sold, stolen or in the case of lost/ damage passports. Keeping a transport log with horse movement and journey details can identify costs associated with a horse or in the event of a disease outbreak to prove where a horse has been.
Keeping records will help identify patterns quickly and is more reliable than trying to remember events. This can build a picture both from a health and cost point of view, which can help identify answers to health or performance issues, allowing you to reduce lost training days and costs that could have been avoided. Keeping records on veterinary care e.g. lameness/ illness/ injury records, treatments carried out, medications administered to show that animals in your care have been treated in a timely and appropriate manner, prove you are abiding by legal requirements and meeting their needs.
Accurate recording of vaccinations and their due dates will ensure that you don’t worry about having to restart the whole programme or miss out on that competition you have been preparing for. Recording the date of taking worm counts and saliva tests, the test results and the dosing of any anthelmintic treatment administered, will help optimise health by ensuring you are using the correct drug to reduce the parasite burden and to avoid increasing drug resistance in worms whilst ensuring that you are not wasting money dosing with ineffective products.
Keeping weight and growth records for your stock allows you to track changes and have a better understanding of what their optimum weight or growth should be. You should record both positive and negative trends, so feeding and work requirements can be adjusted accordingly. Keeping records of daily forage and concentrate requirements, including recording of supplements fed, may highlight patterns or indicate areas where savings could be made, especially when linked to the growth and weight records.
Hoof and Dental Care
Farrier records should include any issues or remedial work carried out, as well as frequency of trimming, shoeing and costs. You should note in your records if problems arise between farrier visits regarding the hoof or way of going. This might indicate if the current shoeing plan is working or if it needs adjusted. Similar records should be kept on dental examinations and treatments, including if there are any riding issues between treatments that should be noted and discussed with your dentist. Keeping these records will ensure that you are keeping up with regular visits to prevent problems before they occur.
If you are involved with the breeding of stock, the variety of records you could keep include results of scans, teasing, foaling records, progeny and pedigree. Such records help ensure good management procedures, and looking back at previous practices allows you to plan and prevent possible breeding issues.
Record keeping methods should be logical and retrievable when you need them and can be as simple or high-tech as you want, so long as they are used. They can be kept in a diary, year planner, in a notebook or a file for each horse, or a combination of each record type. If you want to keep digital records these can be on a desktop computer, your phone or tablet using packages such as spread sheets. When using apps, you have the option of being able to back up to the cloud, so these records can be accessed anywhere at any time, as long as you have internet access. Such an option means you can share the information easily. You should take time to consider what option will work for your individual needs, thinking about ways to back up your information so that you can always refer to past records to enable you to make informed decisions or recommendations.
There are numerous software packages available for record keeping purposes, with many having a free one month subscription so you can ‘try before you buy’. There may not be a “one package fits all”, so take your time to find the one that fits your needs best. If you are new to record keeping, start small and build it up, and you will see the benefits.
Keeping records allows us to pick up on trends, find answers to questions, ensure better health for our horses and save money in the long run, even if it is only so we can afford that extra horse!