The harness racing landscape is evolving daily to provide maximum opportunity for participants and horses, while always complying with restrictions during COVID-19. But what if things changed and racing had to cease for a period of time?  

Following restrictions and social distancing is a must, but we also need to support one another. Ultimately our industry revolves around horses, so making plans to care and protect them is a priority.

In the event of fire we make plans for ourselves and our horses should we need to evacuate or defend our animals and homes, so think of this scenario in a similar way: What are some of the important factors to consider when assessing the welfare management of horses?

  • Housing:  Where will your horse be kept during this challenging time? Will you require bedding or access to a turn out paddock for a spell? It is important to have a plan in place to ensure your horse is safe, fed and supervised whether in work or out spelling. Now is the time to have these conversations and plan.
  • Feeding and water: Some participants may be feeling financial strain at this time, but it is important to ensure your horses, like yourselves, are receiving the nutrition they require. This is a good time to revisit the article Feeding Horses in Times of Drought. This article explains a horse’s dietary needs and how this can be achieved in times of drought and in a cost-effective way.
  • Veterinary and farrier care: You should be aware of which services your vet is currently providing and plan a backup service if required. It is the same for your farrier services. If your horse is going out to spell, ensure your horse’s feet are trimmed and shoes removed to ensure no lost shoes or damage that may be caused by overgrown feet when services may be restricted.
  • Access to your horses, staffing and supervision: Ensure you have enough staff to manage the horses you have in care and/or work is important to meet the welfare needs of each horse. Planning for access of each staff member is also important to ensure you are complying with social distancing so you can continue to care for your horses during this time.

There is no need to panic but being prepared will assist you in managing your horse(s) should a shutdown period occur.

If you or someone you know needs to talk, please remember the Industry Assistance Program (IAP) is here to support you. IAP can be contacted on 1300 360 364 or click here for more information. This is a confidential service.