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Nags to go under e-hammer

The Ballinasloe Horse Fair, a centuries-old midland tradition, will soon embark upon an ambitious new venture - online horse trading. The website, www.piebald.ie, is due to be launched next month and will use a variety of web based e-commerce technologies to create a virtual horse shopper experience.

The project, brainchild of Mouse Responsive E-Design (MrED) CEO Sean McCormac, is designed to bring horse trading into the 21st century while embracing the traditional values and strengths of this old-economy business.

A farmer competes for the favours of a feisty
two-year-old mare as others look on

"The traditional way of buying and selling a horse has remained virtually unchanged for many generations. However, we see a real demand in the market place to provide much deeper knowledge about the products out there so that buyers can make more informed choices.

We also believe we can provide the traditional seller much broader access to markets than would normally be within the scope of your typical quarterly or even monthly traditional town square market.We are also forecasting a significant growth in the Farmer-2-Farmer or F2F sector as more people adopt internet technology" said McCormac.

Some features of the new site are still under development but a recent demonstration for journalists included some very solid features such as an XML-based 3D horse analyzer, a "Virtual Teeth" module and an online database of fetlock comparisons.

The site and its goals has had its critics including those who say that the method of price arrangement undermines the very essence of traditional horse trading. "You have to haggle. You have to look yer man in the eye and settle on the price." said one farmer who did not give his name.

Many diehards say they will never use the service and predict it will go the way of many other dot com startups. McCormac disagrees. "Many of the features we are working on, such as the 'spit and shake' OCX control for Internet Explorer derive from the traditional horse trading paradigm but are being ported into the online arena. We see our service as complementing the traditional market, and while we might take some market share I think that, overall, our business model is really targeting a new type of trading model. We expect to dominate the F2F market which is expected to really take off in the next 2-5 years".




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