NZTR Adopts Internationally-Recognised Horse Welfare Guidelines

Wednesday 29 August

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The NZTR Board has adopted guidelines for racehorse welfare from the International Group of Specialist Racing Veterinarians’ (IGSRV). These Horse Welfare Guidelines are published as an NZTR policy to provide a measure of welfare standards deemed acceptable by NZTR.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR), in its role to promote best practices for horseracing, has adopted guidelines for racehorse welfare from the International Group of Specialist Racing Veterinarians’ (IGSRV) – New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Horse Welfare Guidelines.

These Guidelines (click here) provide a benchmark for welfare standards deemed acceptable by NZTR and aim to provide clarity and accountability around racehorse welfare before, during, and also after racing.

The key tenets of these Guidelines include the following:

  • Reasonable steps should be taken to prevent unnecessary pain and distress of racehorses in breeding, racing and training by ensuring adequate care, a suitable diet, the ability to exhibit normal behaviour, appropriate housing, and protection from injury and disease.
  • While horseracing carries risks, reasonable steps should be taken to prevent avoidable risks and research should be undertaken to reduce risks, and to share this information between participants in horseracing.
  • In the context of these responsibilities it is recognised that properly conducted euthanasia can be a humane option for racehorses; for example for individual horses with severe or chronic injuries, or where care would be inadequate, and long term pain and distress is likely to be the result.

Matthew Goodson, NZTR Chairman, points to NZTR’s 2012-14 Business Plan, which sets out a number of actions to ensure the maintenance of high levels of horse welfare in thoroughbred racing and stated: “Last year we began the process of developing and introducing consistent welfare standards and practices for thoroughbred racing by assessing other equine welfare models from around the world and by consulting with welfare agencies and industry partners.”

“The NZTR Horse Welfare Guidelines are the first step in a number of planned measures to ensure the maintenance of high levels of animal welfare in our sport. NZTR has also applied for and been accepted as a partner in the Australian Racing Incident Database which will provide a detailed record of all Rider and horse incidents on racedays and at trials when it comes on line later this year. The advantage of this would be the creation of a larger data set for analysis of horse and Rider incidents for the RIU and NZTR.”

“Further details of this and other animal welfare initiatives in the pipeline will be announced as we work with the industry to bring them to the point of introduction.”

These Guidelines will be subject to review on an ongoing basis.

The Rules of Racing, held by NZTR, contain a number of specific conditions covering horse welfare, notably Rules 650-655.