Horse welfare

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals legislation aims to:

  • prevent cruelty to animals
  • encourage the considerate treatment of animals
  • improve community awareness about the prevention of cruelty to animals.

Provisions relating to horses include requirements to provide proper and sufficient:

  • food
  • water
  • shelter
  • veterinary treatment.

There are offences for causing pain or suffering to an animal, whether intentionally or through neglect.

The legislation also contains a range of prohibited or regulated activities, devices and procedures such as:

  • tail docking of horses
  • firing (thermocautery) of horses
  • use of twisted bits
  • electronic shock/static collars
  • electric prodders on horses
  • the use of horses in rodeos.

What animal welfare covers

'Animal welfare' refers to how an animal copes with the conditions it lives in. An animal is in a good state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence) it is:

  • healthy
  • comfortable
  • well nourished
  • safe
  • able to express innate behaviour
  • not suffering from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress.

Good animal welfare requires:

  • disease prevention and veterinary treatment
  • appropriate shelter
  • management
  • nutrition
  • humane handling
  • humane slaughter and killing.

'Animal welfare' refers to the state of the animal. The 'treatment of an animal' is covered by other terms such as:

  • animal care
  • animal husbandry
  • humane treatment.

[OIE May 2008 - International Office of Animal Health]

Duty of care

'Duty of Care' is a legal obligation for people to take reasonable measures to protect the welfare of any animals that their activities impact upon.

Contact the RSPCA if you are concerned about welfare of a horse

If you are concerned about the welfare of a horse/s please contact the RSPCA Victoria.

The RSPCA Victoria has primary responsibility for investigating horse welfare concerns under a memorandum of understanding with us.

Reports of animal cruelty can be made:

Page last updated: 14 Feb 2023