Whips in horse racing

Under current racing rules and despite a recent review, whips are permitted in Thoroughbred racing. Whips are also currently used in harness racing but Harness Racing Australia has announced its intention to ban the use of whips as of September 2017. Whips cause unnecessary pain and distress to horses particularly as preliminary research indicates that horses have a thinner top layer of skin and more nerve endings than previously thought. The RSPCA opposes the use of whips in racing and praises decisions that improve the welfare of horses in competition. 

For more information on whips in horse racing visit the RSPCA Knowledgebase.


Shade and shelter

The RSPCA is often called to respond to concerns about inadequate shade and shelter for horses. It is important that all horses are provided with the choice to access adequate shade, shelter and water at all times including at home, during agistment and at events. This is particularly important during extreme weather. Enclosed stables are often too hot in hot weather due to lack of adequate ventilation so a shaded outside yard is preferable. Note that horse rugs are not a suitable substitute for shade. 

For more information on shelter for horses visit the RSPCA Knowledgebase.


The RSPCA is often called to respond to concerns about inadequate water for horses. This is particularly a concern during extreme weather. An average 500kg horse drinks approximately 30-50L of water per day but will require more during hot weather or if exercising. It is important that all horses are provided with adequate volumes of clean fresh palatable water at all times. Palatability is influenced by many factors including temperature of the water and the amount of salts and minerals. Horses can be very sensitive and refuse to drink water they do not find palatable so it is important to consider these factors in order to provide horses with suitable water.

For more information on water for horses visit the RSPCA Knowledgebase.

Hoof care

Hoof care is an essential component of the welfare of hoofed animals including horses. Hoof issues can be very painful and can influence an animal’s ability to walk and even their overall health and survival. Many of the cruelty reports received by the RSPCA about horses relate to overgrown hooves. Regular monitoring and care by a competent person or farrier are important. Some hoof problems and diseases are complex and are influenced by many different factors including diet, type of terrain and exercise or movement.  If complex hoof issues arise, veterinary attention should be sought.

For more information on hoof care visit the RSPCA Knowledgebase.