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NHA Stands Up For Racehorse Retirement

Amendment to Rule 41.7

National Horseracing AuthorityIn the face of growing welfare concerns, the National Horseracing Authority of South Africa has taken decisive action in the matter of racehorse retirement.

On  11 March 2016, they served notice to all members that:-

“The National Horseracing Authority firmly believes that all racehorses deserve to be treated with care and dignity when their racing career comes to an end. Thoroughbred horses are refined athletes and do excel in order equine sports such as polo, show jumping, dressage and equitation. However, they are not designed to withstand meagre or rural conditions and every effort must be made to prevent Thoroughbreds from ending up in circumstances where they would be neglected or abused.

For this reason, The National Horseracing Authority has promulgated a new rule to specify how racehorses must be treated once they have finished racing. The new rule recognises that all Owners have a responsibility towards their horses, whether they have been successful or unsuccessful, and that Owners have certain obligations to make sure that their horses do not end up in unpleasant conditions.

Whilst The National Horseracing Authority is mindful that the additional burden of responsibility now placed on the Owner may be inconvenient, it is certain that everybody will agree that these magnificent animals which provide so much excitement and provides significant economic benefits, deserve careful consideration when their time as a racehorse is over.”

Rule Change

The new ruling is an amendment to the existing Rule 41.7 and makes provision for the humane disposal of horses once their racing careers are over.  It reads as follows:-

41.10 The OWNER of a HORSE shall remain responsible for the care and welfare of a HORSE registered in his name with the NHA, once it retires from racing and for the rest of its natural life, unless he:

41.10.1 transfers ownership of the HORSE to another OWNER or an owner in another racing jurisdiction; or

41.10.2 transfers ownership of the HORSE to a BREEDER; or

41.10.3 transfers ownership of the HORSE to a Horsecare Unit run under the auspices of the National Horse Trust, together with the required fee; or

41.10.4 has the HORSE humanely euthanased and reports such euthanasia to the NHA; or

41.10.5 disposes, whether by an auction approved by the CHIEF EXECUTIVE or otherwise, the HORSE out of racing, on condition that a “second career assessment form” as prescribed from time to time, has been completed by a veterinary surgeon, the OWNER and the TRAINER, enabling the HORSE to pursue an intended second career outside of horseracing. If required, the OWNER agrees to make all relevant veterinary history available to the veterinary surgeon and TRAINER, in order to complete the form accurately. The assessment form shall be submitted to the CHIEF EXECUTIVE within one week of the horse retiring from racing. Should the assessment recommend humane euthanasia and the OWNER elects not to humanely euthanase the HORSE, then the OWNER shall remain responsible for that horse’s welfare for the rest of its natural life.

41.11 An OWNER shall be guilty of an offence if he fails to dispose of a horse in accordance with RULE 41.10

41.12 For the purposes of Rule 41, a horse will be regarded as having been retired from the time it leaves a Trainers’ yard or a breeding establishment to be placed in the care of a person who is not registered with the National Horseracing Authority.

The new Rule will become effective from 20 March 2016.

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5 comments on “NHA Stands Up For Racehorse Retirement

  1. Brett Maselle says:

    I have no problem with the NHA trying to look after the welfare of the horse. I commend the NHA for its efforts. However, I am not sure that sufficient thought has gone into the proposed changes.

    Without taking too much time to think it through, the following immediately springs to mind regarding rule 41.11 (i.e. the breach clause) read with rule 41.10 (i.e. the
    ownership clause):-

    1. The NHA is interfering with an owners right to ownership of his/her horse. As a simple example, If I dispose of my horse to my children for riding purposes, none of whom are members of the NHA, I will be in breach of rule 41.10.

    2.The NHA is a body that is already having difficulties policing its rules. Will it be able to do so with this proposed new rule? Will the NHA incur the extra cost to ensure compliance.

    3 Owners retire horses for different reasons. Most do not want their horses to return to racing or to enter breeding.This proposed rule tries to keep the horse in the racing fold despite an owner having other wishes, which is wrong in my opinion.

    4. Owners currently have the right to transfer ownership of the horse to a Horsecare Unit run under the auspices of the National Horse Trust. Limiting an owners rights of disposal – in terms of rule 41.10 – to five options will, in my view, increase the burden on all Horsecare Units. Are they ready for this and will they be able to cope?

    5. I do not see Euthanasia as an option. For the NHA to include euthanasia as an option without there being a vet report saying that it is essential, is in my view wrong. I understand that Euthanasia has been used by many well known owners and breeders to improve their tax/expenses position. In my view, Euthanasia for any reason other than a medical requirement should not be allowed or condoned by the NHA. It is now opening the floodgates and as the reads more horses will be put down. To me, the horses right to life and being treated with care and dignity is more important than the horse just being treated with care and dignity.

    I wonder who had input into the drafting of this rule change? At least two owners have told me that this proposed NHA rule will be a reason for driving them away from purchasing more horses.

    1. Brian says:

      I’m with you Brett. It seems as if the decisions are made after a great deal of some type of beverage and they all pat each other on their backs and wobble home. Aren’t there legal people guiding these people? It seems you’re out in the cold!

  2. Jess K says:

    The headline to this highly important article and Rule change states :
    “NHA stands up for Racehorse Retirement”.
    In whose eyes and in whose opinion is this Rule change “standing up” for the racehorse’s retirement ? Does indirectly increasing the euthanasia option mean standing up for horse ? This is a highly complex issue which I believe could not and should not have been treated in this manner (by an apparent unilateral Rule change), followed by that ‘statement’.
    Who all were consulted by the NHA in coming to this highly important decision ?
    A racehorse’s retirement is as integral and important as any other facet, from the breeding, birth, keep, feeding, training, racing and up to and including retirement.
    Did the NHA consult with owners, breeders, trainers, vets, jockeys, grooms, Horsecare units, SPCA etc. before making this important Rule change ?
    I believe that this particular aspect is beyond the ambit of the NHA to act alone.
    Only when all the relevant parties (as stated above) that make up this industry are consulted and consensus is reached, can anyone unequivocally state that this is “standing up for the horserace’s retirement”,

  3. Gavn says:

    The poor horse we as a family have raced for decades but have now given up.The horse’s we had racing (7)-we have retired and are looking after them for the rest of there day’s. We have been involved in the warm blood industry with a few jumping and dressage horses as well.There are simply far off many horse’s being bred and unfortunately there is no control over it.The after life for the thoroughbred is shrinking all the time as more and more jumpers and dressage riders want warmbloods. All I hear from the racing industry is it’s all about the horse but they all can’t wait for the next sale to get Te old stock out and the new in – what happens to all these horse’s? -it is a total disaster people don’t realize how saturated the market is.The horse simply suffers.The stories I have heard around town and talking to the wonderful people from the coastal horse care unit it is about time the industry would wake up and put a lot more effort into making sure these wonderful animal’s have a decent life after there racing owner’s don’t have a use for them anymore,

  4. People seem to misunderstand the rule.

    You can give your horse to the grand daughter or sell it to Polo as long as it’s sound and you register the new owner and have the assessment form filled in to confirm that.

    41.10.5 disposes, whether by an auction approved by the CHIEF EXECUTIVE or otherwise, the HORSE out of racing, on condition that a “second career assessment form” as prescribed from time to time, has been completed by a veterinary surgeon, the OWNER and the TRAINER, enabling the HORSE to pursue an intended second career outside of horseracing.

    I believe that this is a good first step – if only for the reason that unsound thoroughbreds are less likely to get into the sports world, this will undoubtedly increase the desirability of the OTTB.

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