Thoroughbred Welfare Guidelines

The science behind our welfare approach

We base our welfare vision for thoroughbred racing on the Five Domains Model of Animal Welfare. By adopting this model, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing aims to reduce avoidable negative experiences and ensure our horses enjoy a life worth living.

High welfare standards benefit the individual horse as well as the whole thoroughbred racing industry. Horse welfare and peak performance are closely connected, as multiple champion trainer DJ O'Sullivan regularly stated: "Happy, healthy horses run well." 


NZTR’s Thoroughbred Welfare Guidelines

The initial Thoroughbred Welfare Assessment Guidelines were published in 2019.  These guidelines have subsequently been used as the basis for the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, by Harness Racing NZ (HRNZ) and other racing jurisdictions, so we can proudly say that the NZ racing industry has led the world in equine welfare.



NZTR Thoroughbred Welfare Detailed Assessment Standards were released July 2023 and can be viewed below:

These standards are more detailed, enabling welfare provisions and the horse’s welfare to be more easily assessed.  This is intended as a further resource for Trainers, Breeders, Owners or other Accountable Persons (refer Rule 1429 in the Rules of Racing) to be assured that their horse welfare provisions measure up to acceptable standards, and as basis for welfare assessment during Stable Inspections.



Equine welfare is a priority for New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, evident through:

Government-mandated welfare laws and regulations also apply, and a horse’s welfare is the responsibility of the owner or accountable person.

    Emergency Management Planning

    Planning for emergencies such as earthquakes, fires, floods or other natural disasters or unexpected events which may interrupt your day-to-day caring for your horses is essential to ensure their survival and safety. For more information on things to consider, or putting together your Emergency Management Plan, follow the link below

    Emergency Management Planning

    NZTR will: 

    • Through regular contact including the annual Thoroughbred Welfare Forum, continue working with key animal welfare experts to increase its understanding of animal welfare
    • Communicate new welfare thinking to stakeholders, in particular, using the ‘Five Domains’ model as a guiding framework
    • Commit to improving how we collect and report welfare-related data for New Zealand thoroughbreds, to provide an evidence base for future discussions and interventions
    • Undertake detailed data analysis or research to determine the various reasons why horses do not meet their expected potential, and formulate initiatives to reduce identifiable and systemic welfare issues