RSPCA Policy C04 Animals in Competitive Events

4.1RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of animals for any kind of competitive event where injury, pain, suffering or distress is likely to be caused.
4.2Organisations or individuals responsible for organising competitive events must act to ensure the safety and well-being of participating animals.
4.3Organisers must ensure that animals are fit, healthy, suitable and appropriately trained and events are supervised by experienced officials and do not place unreasonable demands on competing animals.

RSPCA Australia advocates the adoption of compulsory and enforced animal welfare standards and registration and licensing of competitive events involving animals. Compliance with compulsory standards must be made a condition of licensing and would:

  • require courses to be designed and maintained such that healthy and trained animals can complete them uninjured
  • exclude the use of equipment that causes injury, pain, suffering or distress
  • exclude the use of performance enhancing techniques or medication which would enable an injured animal to compete
  • require the cancellation of an event if conditions were such that the welfare of competing animals would be compromised
  • require assessment by a competent person of an animal’s fitness to participate and continue to participate in the event
  • require the attendance of a suitably qualified veterinarian for the duration of events where there is the potential for injury or stress to participating animals.
Note: Competitive events include pigeon racing, equestrian events including dressage, jumping, eventing, reining, vaulting, carriage driving, polo and polo cross, endurance riding, camp drafting, barrel racing, and cutting among other competitive events (horseracing and greyhound racing are covered under C5 and C6).

Competitive equestrian events

Horses in competitive equestrian events must not be subjected to excessive behavioural restriction, discomfort or constant pressure such as the use of restrictive nosebands, fixed martingales or side-reins. Competition rules and judging standards should be revised where they have been found to cause adverse outcomes for horses.


Novelty events

RSPCA Australia is opposed to the use of animals in novelty competitive events for fundraising or entertainment, (e.g. mouse racing, frog racing, guinea pig racing etc) due to the high risk of fear and anxiety as well as lack of provision for the needs of such animals including acquisition and fate after the event.

(adopted 30/3/2016)

Also Read

Updated on December 9, 2020

RSPCA policies reflect the best available evidence to direct and guide RSPCA and others, to promote and achieve good animal welfare outcomes.

Reference to ‘the RSPCA’ or ‘RSPCA’ in this document means RSPCA Australia and each of the RSPCA Australia member Societies.

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