New guidance on standards for the care and welfare of racehorses has been released by the international lead body for thoroughbred racing.
IFHA Minimum Horse Welfare Standards has been produced by the Horse Welfare Committee of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA), in line with its aim to promote best practice, harmonization and information exchange across racing nations.
The new document complements recent reforms which will ensure the traceability of horses from their foal stage through into retirement and beyond. The IFHA said racing authorities should refer to this document to establish accepted horse welfare practices in their jurisdiction and to set minimum standards of participant behaviour, including behavioural change where necessary.
IFHA Chairman Louis Romanet said the organisation regarded the health and welfare of racehorses, in all stages of life, to be fundamentally important to the viability and sustainability of the industry.
“The Executive Council of the Federation endorses this IFHA Minimum Horse Welfare Standards document and I want to thank our Horse Welfare Committee Chairman Jamie Stier for leading the efforts to produce this useful and practical guide for racing authorities,” Romanet said.
Part of the new standards are based on sections of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) Thoroughbred Welfare Assessment Guidelines which were developed by NZTR with the assistance of Professor Emeritus David Mellor, Foundation Director of the Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre at Massey University.
Mellor is a recipient of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare medal, which recognises the exceptional achievements of an individual scientist who has made fundamental contributions to the advancement of animal welfare science over several years.
Mellor led the development of the Five Domains model of animal welfare – a model that covers all aspects of animal welfare including nutrition, environment, health, behaviour and the animal’s mental state, both negative and positive. It has recently been adopted as a key element of the Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare strategies around the world.