The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) welcomes the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group report

10 Jan 2022

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) welcomes the Thoroughbred Aftercare Welfare Working Group report, “The Most Important Participant” which provides a framework for necessary nationally coordinated action.

A national harmonised approach prioritising lifelong welfare of horses is essential for the thoroughbred industry and all other equine industries. AVA President Dr Vale said “As the thoroughbred industry approach the annual Magic Millions horse sales where 1200 young thoroughbred enter their racing careers, it is important the industry is committed to ensuring the lifelong welfare of all thoroughbred athletes. Based on research documented in the report, the ongoing success of the racing industry is dependent upon the community having confidence in the welfare of all of its horses. The report notes that 29% of people who are unsupportive of racing would change their position if they had confidence that welfare of the horses was managed effectively.”

The report documents the excellent thoroughbred welfare work being undertaken by the Principal Racing Authorities and the effort of veterinarians working in the racing industry. The report reveals sound welfare foundations to work from as evidenced by many racehorses having successful careers in many different disciplines upon retirement, and that each Principal Racing Authority has processes in place to help horses when their racing and breeding careers are over.

“As an equine veterinarian dealing with sport horses, I have seen the enormous value that thoroughbreds bring to horse owners in a wide range of disciplines after they finish racing. Key to their success, documented in the report, is best practice foundation training, care when racing and retraining after racing. Establishing a framework to ensure that this occurs is a key industry responsibility that the AVA supports” said Dr Vale

Dr Vale said that “the report makes it clear that the State and Federal Government regulatory framework around all horse welfare is lacking. The AVA endorses the recent efforts to establish minimal welfare standards, transport standards, traceability, and standards for processing horses. These are present for other livestock, but not horses. Veterinarians look forward to working with State and Federal ministers to further advance this work.”

Veterinarians are key participants in the care of thoroughbreds and the AVA welcomes inclusion in the proposed Thoroughbred Welfare Australia (TWA) initiative and looks forward to working with industry participants to ensure that key proposals in the report are implemented.