Update: 1 August 2022
Issued: July 2005
There is an increasing public focus on the care and welfare of racing Thoroughbreds. The Social Licence which enables racing to continue in Australia is highly dependent on primary consideration for the welfare of the horse. Commitment to horse welfare by racing regulators is constantly being questioned by the community. The public will not accept any perceived or real mistreatment of a racing thoroughbred. Racing Victoria Limited (RVL) always takes its’ responsibility for the care of racing thoroughbreds very seriously. Horse welfare is considered an essential part of all current procedures and future planning.
Recently RVL distributed the document RV Guidelines for Clubs - Management of Injured and Deceased Horses at Race Meetings and Official Trials. Although these Guidelines do not mention management of injured and deceased horses at Jump Outs specifically, Clubs would be expected to comply with the standards of care described in the Guidelines at all events they run and manage.
RVL currently supplies a qualified Official Racing Veterinarian (ORV) to all Official Trials and Race Meetings. This constitutes approximately 600 events which are overseen by RVL ORV’s. There are also approximately 340 Jump Out events held at approximately 28 different racecourses. RVL does not supply an ORV at Jump Outs as these events are arranged and conducted by Race Clubs and therefore the resourcing is the responsibility of the Club. Stewards attend Jump Outs in the capacity of administering the Rules of Racing and approving horses to race.
At some Race Clubs there is a veterinary practice located within reasonable proximity.
However, there may not always be a suitably qualified Veterinarian available at very short notice at every venue even if located close to a veterinary practice. For some Race Clubs the distance that a Veterinarian would need to travel to attend an injured horse may be considerable resulting in an unacceptable delay in attending to an injured horse.
When a horse is injured at a Jump Out and requires veterinary attention it is the responsibility of the Club to arrange for a suitably qualified Veterinarian to attend and treat or possibly euthanise the horse in a timely manner.
This must be done to ensure the injured horse is not subjected to any additional pain or suffering.
RVL recommends that Clubs engage the services of a suitably qualified Veterinarian unless there is some other arrangement to ensure a veterinarian is always available in a timely manner during Jump Out events. The following suggestions might assist each Club in ensuring that veterinary services are available in a timely manner for all scheduled Jump Out events.
If there is a veterinary clinic within a very short distance such as 5-10 minutes:
- notify the veterinary clinic well in advance to ensure there will be a Veterinarian on site who can attend immediately during the Jump Out event; or
- engage the veterinary clinic to provide a Veterinarian to be at the racecourse throughout the Jump Out event. The Veterinarian should be present before the first Jump Out and not leave until after all Jump Out events have been completed and all horses are known not to need veterinary attention.
- If there is not a veterinary clinic or suitably qualified Veterinarian within a very short distance:
- engage a private veterinary clinic to provide a Veterinarian to be onsite at the track during the event. RVL may be able to assist your Club with locating a suitably qualified Veterinarian in your vicinity.
- Request that RVL provide an ORV to be onsite at the Jump Out event. This must be arranged as soon as the Club receives confirmation that Jumps Outs will be occurring on any particular date.
- Injured horses must always be handled with their welfare as the paramount consideration.
Any horse which sustains an injury and may be subjected to additional pain or suffering by being moved prior to stabilization or receiving appropriate veterinary care must not be moved:
unless by remaining at the location at which it is caught or contained there is a real risk of additional injury to itself or to a person or persons (which may include an injured jockey or attending paramedic); or
until the injured horse has been attended to by a Veterinarian who may, after stabilisation and or other veterinary therapy, then authorise the horse to be moved.
Moving an injured horse is not allowable, including:
- by any means including a float or by walking from one side of the track to another;
- to allow other activities to continue such as to enable a Jump Out to commence or continue or to prevent public viewing of the injury; or
- circumstances when euthanasia is intended or anticipated but is delayed whilst a Veterinarian arrives to attend the incident.
Historically Club staff may have considered managing serious horse incidents by moving a horse either by walking, or on a float, to a quieter area of the racecourse whilst waiting for a Veterinarian to attend.
Clubs should understand that moving an injured horse, unless under exceptional circumstances, may lead to the Club, and/or its staff, facing possible prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (Vic).
If you require assistance with ensuring your Club has sufficient veterinary services engaged, please contact Racing Victoria Veterinary Services at email: email@example.com.
If you require further clarification, please contact Dr Grace Forbes General Manager Veterinary Services. Email. G.firstname.lastname@example.org