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:
- Close involvement and support of NZ Equine Health Association (NZEHA) and NZ Equine Research Foundation (NZERF), the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the New Zealand Equine Veterinary Association (NZEVA) and the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RNZSPCA)
- NZTR’s Rules of Racing, which include a wide range of clauses relating to horse welfare
- Competency testing and licensing of jockeys and trainers
- Certification of horses for flat racing and jumping
- Age restrictions for flat and jumping races
- Rules restricting the use and type of whips
- Powers to inspect stables and horses and obtain samples
- Race day veterinary inspections and stewards’ power to late scratch on vet advice
- Attendance of farriers and plate and gear inspections on race day
- Powers to humanely euthanise severely injured horses
- Powers to abandon race meetings
- Investment in racing and training surfaces and other infrastructure improvements
- Education and training of trainers, breeding staff, jockeys and stablehands.
The science behind our welfare approachWe 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.
Mellor, D. Updating animal welfare thinking: Moving beyond the “Five Freedoms” towards “a Life Worth Living”. Animals 2016, 6.
Available online here.
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.