Animal Welfare Policy

Adopted by the Harness Racing New Zealand Board at its meeting on 17th April 2013


The purpose of the HRNZ Animal Welfare Policy is to ensure the safety and welfare of all registered harness racing horses is maintained while they are involved in:

  • Racing;
  • Training; and
  • Other activities associated with Racing and Training.

The maintenance of the animal welfare of these registered horses ensures the best interests of all industry participants are served. The protection of the industry’s reputation is paramount and animal welfare is a critical factor in ensuring this is done.

The following policy relates to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 which is administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries.


Harness Racing New Zealand Inc is committed to the welfare of horses involved in the wide range of harness racing related activities in New Zealand.

The maintenance of legally accepted welfare standards is critical to the sustainability and integrity of the New Zealand Harness Racing industry.

Harness Racing New Zealand Inc will regularly review established legal and scientific information relevant to animal welfare to make or amend standards, regulations and rules as necessary. It will also act on breaches to the Animal Welfare Act 1999 where applicable.


The purpose of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 is to ensure that owners of animals and persons in charge of animals attend properly to the welfare of those animals.

There are three particularly relevant sections within the Act that Harness Racing New Zealand Inc looks to endorse:

This Part accordingly—
(a) requires owners of animals, and persons in charge of animals, to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the physical, health, and behavioural needs of the animals are met in accordance with both—
      (i) good practice; and
      (ii) scientific knowledge; and

(b) requires owners of ill or injured animals, and persons in charge of such animals, to ensure that the animals receive, where practicable, treatment that alleviates any unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress from which the animals are suffering

(f) specifies certain minimum conditions that must be observed in relation to the transportation of animals.

The duty of care to uphold these standards lies with the owners of the animal and those in charge of it as it conducts its racing activities.

As part of Harness Racing New Zealand Inc’s duty, it will, as necessary, make standards, procedures or rules regarding animal welfare in a range of areas such as, but not limited to:

  • Racecourse Conditions
  • Racecourse Accommodation
  • Number of Starters and Line Limits
  • Injury During a Race
  • Use of the Whip
  • Safety and Performance Affecting Equipment
  • Minimum Racing Age and Applicable Distances
  • Use of Prohibited Substances
  • Nasal Bleeds and other Health Related Issues
  • Euthanasia
  • Veterinary Inspections
  • Vaccinations
  • Bio Security
  • Disease Management
  • Racing of Pregnant Mares


Where possible, Harness Racing New Zealand Inc will incorporate Animal Welfare issues into all training material presented to industry participants. Issues covered will include General Horse Welfare, Ill Health, Emergency Situations and Injury Prevention.


The application of rules and regulations regarding Animal Welfare shall apply to all parties listed in the New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing 2012 Part 1 – 102(1). Any amendments or additions to this policy will be administered in accordance with these rules.

Harness Racing New Zealand Inc will investigate allegations of animal welfare breaches to registered horses and will inform the applicable officers responsible under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Harness Racing New Zealand Inc may also instigate disciplinary action against persons found to be breaching conditions within the Act.


Animal Welfare Act 1999 – Ministry of Primary Industry
New Zealand Rules of Harness Racing 2012 - Harness Racing New Zealand Inc