The RIRDC Horse Research and Development Program has been one of RIRDC’s longest running programs. The Program has provided more than $6 million to over 130 projects since it began in 1995, investigating issues of key interest to the horse industry such as neonatal death, race course and rider safety, wastage, nutrition, respiratory disease, laminitis, placentitis, lameness and reproduction.
RIRDC is committed to the development of Five Year Plans for each of its Research and Development Programs in keeping with the Corporation’s Five Year Strategic Business Plan, and the National and Rural Research Priorities.
The Australian horse industry is both diverse and expanding with many benefits to be gained in all sectors of the industry from high calibre targeted research. Since the release of the last Research and Development Plan for the horse industry in 2001, the number of horses registered by the Equestrian Federation of Australia has increased by 59%, and the number of Federation members has increased by 22%. As at 30 July 2006 there were 61,819 registered members of pony clubs across Australia. In addition to the now globally competitive thoroughbred breeding and racing sector, this indicates an ongoing capacity to adopt the results of RIRDC research and development in an industry that contributes more than $6.3 billion to GDP.
This Five-Year Plan builds on the outcomes of a stakeholder meeting conducted in early 2006 and wide ranging consultation within the horse industry to determine the key issues and priorities for research support. The Plan identifies key objectives for investment and areas for future consideration, detailing the agreed strategic research and development needs that RIRDC will pursue in partnership with industry.