Welfare Guidelines for horseracing


Practices that jeopardize the health and welfare of the horse, the welfare of the rider, and other participants as well as the integrity of horseracing are inappropriate and prohibited.

Practices That Have No Place in Horseracing
  • The use of any unapproved object, device, behavioral activity, or chemical to achieve an inappropriate response, at any time during training or racing.
  • Subjecting horses to medical or surgical procedures outside of a valid and transparent owner-trainer-veterinarian relationship and those inconsistent with providing medical and/or welfare benefits to the horse.
  • Use of physical or veterinary procedures or medication treatments to mask the effects or signs of injury as to allow training or racing to the detriment of the horse's health and welfare.
  • Practices that are fraudulent, potentially fraudulent or may have adverse consequences for the integrity of the industry.
Specified Prohibited Practices
  • Withhold water to the detriment of the health, welfare or safety of the horse. Water may not be withheld for more than 6 hours pre-race.
  • Race a horse or present a horse for certification of fitness, soundness or tractability within 7 days from the date of treatment of any form of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT).
  • Withdraw blood from a horse for any purpose other than for diagnostic/laboratory testing procedures, or as permitted by Rule 72.1.22.
  • Withdraw, manipulate and re-infuse homologous, heterologous, or autologous blood products or blood cells from a horse into the circulatory system of the same horse, or another horse, at any time, with the exception of those procedures performed for lifesaving purposes or in the use of veterinary regenerative therapies for the treatment of musculoskeletal injury or disease.
  • Make use of chemical castration or immunocastration of a horse.
  • Apply thermocautery to the skin over the musculoskeletal structures to cause a counterirritant effect.
  • Apply a substance to cause severe or unnecessary vesiculation of the skin and/or underlying tissues.
  • Use or be party to the use of directly or indirectly, or be in possession of any electric, electronic, mechanical, or galvanic apparatus or equipment (whether in working condition or not), directly or indirectly, on or in relation to any horse, which may adversely impact or affect the welfare of the horse.
  •  Use on, or administer or apply to, any horse any therapy, method or process which involves gene editing or genome editing.
Amended 01/03/2024


Yearlings shall not run in any race.

Two-year-olds foaled south of the equator and two-year olds foaled north of the equator between 1 August and 31 December shall not run: 
  • Before 1 October
  • Twice on the same day
  • With older horses before 1 April
  • In races of less than 1000m after 15 January
  • In races of more than 1200m before 15 February
  • In races of 2000m until 1 May
  • In races exceeding 2000m
No horse foaled north of the equator between 1 January and 31 July shall be eligible to run as a two-year old.

Three-year-olds and upwards shall not run less than 1000m at any race meeting, except where special permission has been granted in terms of the Rules by the Chief Executive.

No horse shall run in more than one race on the same day.

No mare shall race past 120 days of gestation.


As per Rule 70.6, it is a requirement for the owner, trainer, or person responsible to inform the Stipendiary Board and/or the NHA veterinary surgeons if a horse has undergone surgery and/or any other procedure and has not raced for 90 days or more.


As per Rule 10.5.7, it is a requirement for a trainer, assistant trainer, or stable employee to inform the Stipendiary Board and/or the NHA veterinary surgeons of the reason for a horse’s prolonged absence from racing at the time of nominations.

As for indefinite suspensions, the Stipendiary Board and the NHA veterinary surgeons may require the presentation of a veterinary certificate and/or veterinary gallop prior to
declarations to ensure the horses’ suitability to race.

Amended 03/05/2023