Neglect of thoroughbreds

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.”

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing aims to prevent neglect by ensuring that thoroughbreds are retrained and suitably re-homed wherever possible. Suitable re-homing is more likely to happen when care is taken placing horses with responsible owners after retirement, education is provided about thoroughbred welfare, and both the public and the racing industry recognise the early warning signals of neglect and feel empowered to notify NZTR, the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) or the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RNZSPCA).

Most often, horse neglect is identified and reported to the RNZSPCA by members of the public, a veterinarian or the police. Along with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), RNZSPCA’s officers have powers of inspection and prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

The RIU is developing its relationship with RNZSPCA, which includes liaison protocols for dealing with matters of animal neglect or cruelty if this involves licensed persons or registered horses. NZTR is also developing its relationship with the RNZSPCA, to ensure prompt and open lines of communication where neglect or cruelty cases involve thoroughbreds.

A welfare issue may occur when horses are sold or given away to unsuitable owners. Even though deregistration and re-homing to an approved home may be done in full compliance with New Zealand Thoroughbred notification rules, it is potentially the second or subsequent owner who may neglect or mistreat a horse. In this situation the horse and its unregistered owner are not subject to NZTR regulatory oversight.

NZTR is responsive to cases where neglected thoroughbreds are discovered and help is required. In the past, NZTR has overseen the rehabilitation and re-homing of thoroughbreds, where veterinary advice was that, with proper care and treatment, the horses had a good chance of recovering to full health.

If you have concerns about neglect of thoroughbreds please contact the RIU or RNZSPCA.
Racing Integrity Unit:
Phone: 09 529 7219
Confidential phone: 0800 748 123


New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing will:
  • Amend the Rules of Racing to make it clear that any licensed or accountable people are subject to serious misconduct charges, possible fines and/or recovery of rehabilitation costs if they are proved to have neglected a horse
  • Include rehabilitation guidelines for re-homing thoroughbreds including a duty of care for owners and trainers to best ensure good horse welfare outcomes
  • Support and encourage reporting of neglect to NZTR, the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) or the RNZSPCA. NZTR will follow-up reported cases to ensure the overriding welfare of the horse.