March 7, 2024

A consortium of equine organisations is rallying the industry to play a leading role in addressing the climate crisis and shaping a better future, with the launch of the first nationwide equine carbon calculator today.

Pioneered by equine environmental sustainability specialists White Griffin and the Farm Carbon Toolkit, in partnership with Derby College Group, Hartpury University and Sparsholt College Group, the calculator has been developed to empower equine businesses and horse owners to better understand their environmental impact and take meaningful steps to mitigate it.

The free-to-use tool – accessible here – also identifies opportunities for businesses to minimise their energy costs and maximise their potential to regenerate the countryside.

While carbon footprint tools are prevalent in the agricultural sector and play a pivotal role in government carbon reduction targets, no such tools have been available at scale for equine premises until now.

Without insights into the scale of the challenges and opportunities, the equine industry is hindered in setting meaningful targets. The equine carbon calculator seeks to bridge this gap, empowering stakeholders to make informed decisions for a sustainable future.

Director of White Griffin, Ruth Dancer said: “The equine community holds a deep connection to the natural world, so we have a unique opportunity to safeguard it for future generations. By implementing the equine carbon calculator, we can better understand our emissions and find innovative ways to reduce them, saving money and paving the way for a better future.”

The launch of the carbon calculator marks the beginning of a comprehensive campaign to  educate and inspire the equine industry on environmental sustainability. This initiative will be complemented by a suite of resources set to launch in autumn, offering support to stakeholders across the horse racing and equestrian sectors.

It follows a broader industry shift toward a more sustainable future for equestrians and horse racing, underscored by the tangible impacts of climate change on the industry. Following the hottest year on record in 2023 coupled with significant flooding, the UK equine industry suffered multiple cancellations across the full spectrum of events, highlighting the urgency of addressing these challenges. 

White Griffin’s previous reports for the British Horse Racing Authority and the British Equestrian Federation, have laid strong foundations for these sustainability initiatives, emphasising the need for tools and resources to support businesses in their sustainability efforts.

Farm Carbon Toolkit project lead Lizzy Parker said: “After years of supporting agricultural farms with reducing their environmental impact through a clear and easy-to-use tool, we know how important measuring to monitor is. Our calculator allows equine businesses to properly understand their carbon footprint and make the necessary changes to reduce their emissions.” 

The equine carbon calculator is the result of a collaborative effort among academic institutions committed to driving real change in the industry.

The project began when Assistant Principal of Derby College Group, Jon Collins, began work on their own carbon footprint and discovered that while the tool had everything they needed to understand the farm’s footprint, they struggled to use it for their equine yard.

Speaking with Sparsholt College Group and Hartpury University, Collins discovered that both organisations were also seeking to develop a tool to support their equine students and businesses and therefore a collaboration was formed in order to pool resources. 

Collins said: “I chose Farm Carbon Toolkit to develop the resource because I found their tool to be easiest to use and provided the best user experience. Understanding the busy lives of equine business owners, we knew that we had to develop something that was clear, useful and also provided invaluable insight and comparisons with other equine businesses. We are proud to be delivering this with the support of Landex and will be rolling the tool out to all students, organisations and interested individuals who are seeking to make a difference in their day-to-day lives to the environment we all depend on.”

Project lead for Hartpury University, Rachel Collins, said: “We’re passionate about sustainability at Hartpury and have worked with both White Griffin and Farm Carbon Toolkit to deliver the most up-to-date training and knowledge to our students on equine sustainability. This tool represents an important step in our commitment to drive the industry forward towards a sustainable future. We are proud to be part of this collaboration, leveraging our expertise to empower stakeholders and effect meaningful change.”

Mark Treagust, Vice Principal of Sparsholt College said: “Collaboration within the equine sector is vital to address our industry’s greatest risk – the climate crisis. Leveraging our collective wealth of knowledge in land management and equine welfare, we must support businesses in making impactful changes. This tool initiates a large-scale process for thousands of individuals all over the country. By uniting as academic institutions and utilising the Landex network, we can effect real, much needed change.”