WA Horse Standards and Guidelines

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Have your say on the WA Horse Standards and Guidelines


The Western Australian Government recognises the value of animal welfare to our community and strives to ensure all animals receive appropriate standards of care. As companions and working animals, horses have an important place in the lives of many Western Australians.

Standards and Guidelines for the Health and Welfare of Horses in Western Australia (WA Horse Standards and Guidelines) have been developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), in consultation with experts in horse husbandry, welfare and veterinary science.

The document sets out the minimum standards that owners and people responsible for horses must follow to ensure the health and welfare of horses kept in WA. It also provides recommended guidelines and additional information to further protect and promote the health and welfare of horses. All information in this document is based on current scientific knowledge and reflects recommended industry practice and community expectations.

See the Consultation documents section on this page to download a copy of:

How to provide feedback

We welcome the input of the WA community and organisations to improve the health and welfare of horses in our State.

Your feedback will help:

  • provide an understanding of community expectations regarding the care of horses and
  • identify how compliance with the standards may impact people, businesses and horses in WA.

To provide feedback, complete the online survey below. (Note: you will need to register on YourSay first, unless you have previously registered on this site. If you have already registered, just log in.)

Before you provide feedback, please read:

If you need more information, please use the Questions section below to ask your question and DPIRD will respond.

In addition to completing the survey, written submissions will be accepted. Written submissions must be provided to animal.welfare@dpird.wa.gov.au by the closing date.

If you have any difficulties making a submission, please email: animal.welfare@dpird.wa.gov.au.

Note: Submissions may be published online at the conclusion of the consultation and cited in a publicly available report. Submitters who would like their submission to remain confidential should clearly state this in their submission.

Submissions that contain defamatory or offensive material will not be published.

Submissions close on Monday 19 December 2022 at 4pm AWST.

Have your say on the WA Horse Standards and Guidelines


The Western Australian Government recognises the value of animal welfare to our community and strives to ensure all animals receive appropriate standards of care. As companions and working animals, horses have an important place in the lives of many Western Australians.

Standards and Guidelines for the Health and Welfare of Horses in Western Australia (WA Horse Standards and Guidelines) have been developed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), in consultation with experts in horse husbandry, welfare and veterinary science.

The document sets out the minimum standards that owners and people responsible for horses must follow to ensure the health and welfare of horses kept in WA. It also provides recommended guidelines and additional information to further protect and promote the health and welfare of horses. All information in this document is based on current scientific knowledge and reflects recommended industry practice and community expectations.

See the Consultation documents section on this page to download a copy of:

How to provide feedback

We welcome the input of the WA community and organisations to improve the health and welfare of horses in our State.

Your feedback will help:

  • provide an understanding of community expectations regarding the care of horses and
  • identify how compliance with the standards may impact people, businesses and horses in WA.

To provide feedback, complete the online survey below. (Note: you will need to register on YourSay first, unless you have previously registered on this site. If you have already registered, just log in.)

Before you provide feedback, please read:

If you need more information, please use the Questions section below to ask your question and DPIRD will respond.

In addition to completing the survey, written submissions will be accepted. Written submissions must be provided to animal.welfare@dpird.wa.gov.au by the closing date.

If you have any difficulties making a submission, please email: animal.welfare@dpird.wa.gov.au.

Note: Submissions may be published online at the conclusion of the consultation and cited in a publicly available report. Submitters who would like their submission to remain confidential should clearly state this in their submission.

Submissions that contain defamatory or offensive material will not be published.

Submissions close on Monday 19 December 2022 at 4pm AWST.

Do you have a question about the proposed Horse Standards and Guidelines? Ask your question here.

In order to ask a question, please REGISTER on this site first. If you have already registered, just log in.

You need to be signed in to add your question.

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    There has been an extremely comprehensive document prepared by the Australia Animal Welfare Strategy Group that more than adequately covers the relevant topics HOR0288_Horse_welfare_and_well-being_toolkit_WEB.pdf (animalwelfarestandards.net.au). As a long time horse owner in both WA and the Eastern States, I do not understand why there is money and effort being expended to create a WA centric equine welfare guideline. Why not follow the national guideline?

    Weanie0125 asked 9 days ago

    Hi Weanie0125,

    Thank you for your question.

    The Australian Horse Welfare and Well-being Toolkit is a resource designed to assist organisations in determining policies, procedures and planning for the welfare of horses, and is focused on the role of horse welfare officers at events. The draft Standards and Guidelines for the Health and Welfare of Horses in Western Australia (WA Horse Standards and Guidelines) provide for the welfare of horses more generally, and apply to all people responsible for horses kept in WA. Among other things, the WA Horse Standards and Guidelines cover housing conditions, health and veterinary care, management practices, breeding, exercise and education. 

    A draft national horse standards and guidelines document was developed in 2008-09 but has not progressed. The national Animal Welfare Task Group has proposed development of such standards in their workplan, in addition to current work on national land transport standards. More information can be found on the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website: www.agriculture.gov.au/agriculture-land/animal/welfare/awtg

    We welcome your feedback on the draft WA Horse Standards and Guidelines. To ensure your views are considered, please complete the online survey and submit any additional feedback to animal.welfare@dpird.wa.gov.au prior to the closing date.

    Kind regards,
    the Animal Welfare Regulation team.

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    I would like to know if your standards include race horses? If not why not? Also are you going to include what age a horse must be before being ridden?

    Horses First asked 8 days ago

    Hi HorsesFirst,

    Thank you for your questions on the application of the draft Standards and Guidelines for the Health and Welfare of Horses in Western Australia (Horse Standards and Guidelines) to racehorses and the minimum age for horse training.

    The draft Horse Standards and Guidelines apply to all horses kept in WA for any purpose, including racing. While there is no section that deals specifically with the welfare of racehorses, Part 2 of the Horse Standards and Guidelines applies to all owned horses in private and commercial settings. Racing and Wagering Western Australia, as the governing body responsible for regulating the racing sector, provides additional resources on the welfare of racehorses.

    Generally, the proposed Horse Standards and Guidelines has been drafted to focus on the outcome (such as impact on health and welfare), rather than comprise prescriptive rules that do not allow flexibility between circumstances. Accordingly, the document does not specifically prescribe a minimum age limit for horse training, recognising that horse training and exercise can take many different forms, and that some of these are suitable for young horses. Rather, Standard 17.2 (page 32) provides that horses must not be subjected to exercise of an intensity and duration that exceeds the horse’s ability for its age, size, strength, and fitness. 

    Similarly, in relation to training, Standard 18.1 (page 34) provides that training methods used on horses must be appropriate for the horse’s age, size and condition. Additional information is included on page 33 that stresses the importance of matching the type and amount of exercise to the horse’s age, reproductive status and physical and mental maturity. It also explicitly makes the point that strenuous exercise of young horses can risk musculoskeletal injuries, either immediately or later in life.

    There are additional requirements intended to safeguard horses from the welfare, safety and health risks particularly associated with riding centres. Specific to age of horses, Standard 23.2 (page 43) provides that horses must not be used in riding centres if they do not have their central adult incisors in wear.

    We welcome your feedback on the draft Horse Standards and Guidelines. To ensure your views are considered, please complete the online survey and submit any additional feedback to animal.welfare@dpird.wa.gov.au prior to the closing date.

    Kind regards,
    the Animal Welfare Regulation team.

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    Do the Standards and Guidelines cover horse racing? It mentions 'race meets' in a couple of places but otherwise racing seems excluded. It is unclear.

    Surya8686 asked 9 days ago

    Hi Surya8686,

    Thank you for your question on the application of the draft Standards and Guidelines for the Health and Welfare of Horses in Western Australia (Horse Standards and Guidelines) to racehorses.

    The draft Horse Standards and Guidelines apply to all horses kept in WA for any purpose, including racing. While there is no section that deals specifically with the welfare of racehorses in Part 3, Part 2 of the Horse Standards and Guidelines applies to all owned horses in private and commercial settings. Racing and Wagering Western Australia, as the governing body responsible for regulating the racing sector, provides additional resources on the welfare of racehorses.

    We welcome your feedback on the draft Horse Standards and Guidelines. To ensure your views are considered, please complete the online survey and submit any additional feedback to animal.welfare@dpird.wa.gov.au prior to the closing date.

    Kind regards,
    the Animal Welfare Regulation team

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    what is the minimal age for horse training, is there a ruling on this? in regards to bone growth and maturity stresses on joints and their development if started too early and hard.

    Jenny Scahill asked about 1 month ago

    Hi Jenny

    Thank you for your question on the minimum age for horse training. 

    Generally, the proposed Horse Standards and Guidelines has been drafted to focus on the outcome (such as impact on health and welfare), rather than comprise prescriptive rules that do not allow flexibility between circumstances. Accordingly, the document does not specifically prescribe a minimum age limit for horse training, recognising that horse training and exercise can take many different forms, and that some of these are suitable for young horses. Rather, Standard 17.2 (page 32) provides that horses must not be subjected to exercise of an intensity and duration that exceeds the horse’s ability for its age, size, strength, and fitness. 

    Similarly, in relation to training, Standard 18.1 (page 34) provides that training methods used on horses must be appropriate for the horse’s age, size and condition. Additional information is included on page 33 that stresses the importance of matching the type and amount of exercise to the horse’s age, reproductive status and physical and mental maturity. It also explicitly makes the point that strenuous exercise of young horses can risk musculoskeletal injuries, either immediately or later in life.

    There are also additional requirements intended to safeguard horses from the welfare, safety and health risks particularly associated with riding centres. Specific to age of horses, Standard 23.2 (page 43) provides that horses must not be used in riding centres if they do not have their central adult incisors in wear. 

    We welcome your feedback on the minimum age for horse training, and any other aspects of the draft Horse Standards and Guidelines. To ensure your views are considered, please complete the online survey and submit any additional feedback to animal.welfare@dpird.wa.gov.au prior to the closing date.

    Kind regards, The Animal Welfare Regulation team

Page published: 24 Oct 2022, 10:37 AM