WA Horse Standards and Guidelines

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Consultation is now closed.

Thank you to all who provided feedback to the WA Horse Standards and Guidelines.

DPIRD is now reviewing submissions. A report summarising the consultation response will be provided on this page in the coming months.

* * * * *

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

Consultation is now closed.

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 closed on Monday 19 December 2022 at 4pm AWST.

DPIRD is now reviewing submissions. A report summarising the consultation response will be provided on this page in the coming months.

Consultation is now closed.

Thank you to all who provided feedback to the WA Horse Standards and Guidelines.

DPIRD is now reviewing submissions. A report summarising the consultation response will be provided on this page in the coming months.

* * * * *

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

Consultation is now closed.

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 closed on Monday 19 December 2022 at 4pm AWST.

DPIRD is now reviewing submissions. A report summarising the consultation response will be provided on this page in the coming months.

CLOSED: The survey is now closed. The DPIRD team is currently reviewing responses and formulating a summary report.

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

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    I am particularly concerned about backyard animal owners that acquire animals and keep them without sufficient knowledge and in appalling conditions. In some instances, selling them on for profit without any consideration for the welfare of the animal

    vera asked about 1 year ago

    Hi Vera,

    Thank you for your comment.

    The Animal Welfare Act 2002 and accompanying regulations provide the legal framework to ensure that all animals in WA have appropriate standards of care. The Animal Welfare Act intends to promote and protect the welfare, safety and health of animals, ensuring the proper and humane treatment of all animals in accordance with generally accepted standards, and reflect the community’s expectation that people who are in charge of animals will ensure that they are properly treated and cared for.

    The draft Horse Standards and Guidelines further aim to promote a horse owner’s duty to adequately care for their animal(s) by setting out minimum standards to follow to ensure their health and welfare. It also provides recommended guidelines and additional information to further protect and promote the health and welfare of horses. The final document will provide a tool to help educate horse carers and, if the standards are regulated, these will support compliance.

    DPIRD appreciates your input into the consultation process. Your feedback will help inform the development of the final Horse Standards and Guidelines. 

    Please submit any additional feedback to animal.welfare@dpird.wa.gov.au prior to the closing date (4pm Monday 19 December 2022).

    Kind regards,
    the Animal Welfare Regulation team.

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    Good Afternoon, Could you please clarify the criteria used to assess the suitability of both of these guidelines? G4.9 Where horses are not familiar with fences, wire fencing should not be used until the horse has adapted to confinement. (What defines adaptation to confinement? also, how is the horse able to adapt to confinement if the paddock is not as it will be for the duration of the residence in the environment? What does 'wire' specifically relate to?) 0G4.11 Fences used to confine a horse should be easily visible to the horse. (what defines visibility?) Many thanks, Nancy Ellison-Murray

    NancyJEM asked about 1 year ago

    Hi Nancy,

    Thank you for your questions on the fencing provisions in the draft Standards and Guidelines.

    The standards in the draft Horse Standards and Guidelines are minimum requirements to meet the basic welfare needs of horses and may form the basis of regulations. The guidelines aim to encourage a higher level of welfare and will not be regulated. Accordingly, the guidelines are not drafted as precisely as the standards.

    Fencing and gates commonly cause injuries in horses, particularly when horses are overcrowded in confinement and facilities are inadequate. Wire fencing can cause injuries when horses are confined in small areas or kept in adjacent paddocks or areas. The intent of G4.9 is to minimise the risk of injury to horses confined in an area they are not used to. For instance, horses usually kept in large open areas and which are not used to fencing are likely to be at a greater risk of injury until they are used to closer confinement. 

    Unless further defined in the final document, the terms used in the Horse Standards and Guidelines will take their ordinary meaning. For instance, visible could take the meaning ‘capable of being seen’ and will vary between animals and their experience or familiarity with the type of fencing.

    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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    The development of a Horse Standards and Guidelines has in part emanated from the poor treatment of horses at Eastern States knackeries. However, horses at some stage need to be put down due to old age, injury, disease, poor health, no longer able to be cared for by their owner to name but a few. What measure are being taken to ensure there is an appropriate facility owners to dispose of a horse in an acceptable manner?

    Mustang asked about 1 year ago

    Hi Mustang,

    Thank you for your question on euthanasia and disposal of horses.

    The draft Horse Standards and Guidelines provide that a horse must be destroyed using a method of humane destruction. Such a method causes rapid unconsciousness, followed by the horse’s death while it is unconscious. Methods of humane destruction include an intravenous injection of a barbiturate by a veterinarian and shooting by an experienced person with an appropriate firearm. 

    There are facilities in Western Australia that will undertake this service, and subsequently dispose of the horse’s body. The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Livestock at Slaughtering Establishments should be adhered to for horses held at abattoirs and knackeries. Appropriate disposal of the horse’s body after euthanasia will depend on the method used, and should be confirmed with the relevant local council.

    Kind regards,
    the Animal Welfare Regulation team.

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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 over 1 year 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 over 1 year 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 over 1 year 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 over 1 year 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 last updated: 19 Dec 2022, 04:41 PM