Ag ministry releases horse standards

The Ministry of Agriculture has released a Code of Recommendations and Minimum Standards for horses. The book takes into account the five basic requirements of a horse: nutrition and water, shelter, prevention ad treatment of injury, freedom from parasites and ability to display normal patterns of behaviour.

All equine species are covered so the code applies equally to donkeys and mules. Feral, or wild horses, do not fall within the scope of the book.

Code 7 is well presented and easily read. It covers legal responsibilities, grazing, common diseases, feeding (including over feeding), agistment (keeping horses on other people's property), horse hire, equine activities, transport and humane slaughter.

A condition score chart is easy to use. Exact weight of a horse can be assessed (rather than guessed) using the condition chart/ height graph. An accurate assessment of a horse's weight is recommended for the purposes of drenching.

Minimum standards for tethering outlines the need for a secure halter or collar, a swivelling device, rope of soft hemp or chain (not nylon due to its tendency to cause burns), an area free from obstructions, with adequate feed and water ( 10-30 litres / day ), under general surveillance and checked closely twice every 24 hours.

Tethering is not generally recommended and is probably the activity most commonly not meeting minimum standards in the Far North of NZ.

For a fee of $5.00 the 43 page book is a very good investment. It can be obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture.