The benefits of thoroughbred welfare

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s vision for thoroughbred welfare

“A thoroughbred should be provided a good life, with the care and conditions that will allow the horse to thrive and perform to its natural abilities, with minimal discomfort and an absence of suffering.”

High welfare standards benefit the individual horse as well as the whole thoroughbred racing industry. Horse welfare and peak performance are closely connected. To gain or retain the public’s acceptance of racing as a sport and industry, is it important to be honest and open about welfare issues in order to evaluate them and to develop strategies to minimise recognised problems.

Equine welfare has for a long time been a matter of importance to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, evident through:
Government-mandated welfare laws and regulations also apply, and a horse’s welfare is the responsibility of the owner or person in charge.

The science behind our welfare approach

We base our welfare vision for thoroughbred racing on the Five Domains Model of Animal Welfare1. By adopting this model, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing aims to reduce avoidable negative experiences and ensure our horses enjoy a live worth living.

The Science Behind Our Welfare Approach
[1] 
Mellor, D. Updating animal welfare thinking: Moving beyond the “Five Freedoms” towards “a Life Worth Living”. Animals 2016, 6.
Available online here
 

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing will:

  • Continue working with key animal welfare experts to increase its understanding of animal welfare
  • Communicate new welfare thinking to stakeholders, in particular, using the ‘Five Domains’ model as a guiding framework
  • Commit to improving how we collect and report welfare-related data for New Zealand thoroughbreds, to provide an evidence base for future discussions and interventions
  • Undertake detailed data analysis or research to determine the various reasons why horses do not meet their expected potential, and formulate initiatives to reduce identifiable and systemic welfare issues.