Domestication (rehoming) guidelines

For wild horses removed from National Parks and Wildlife Service estate.

The following criteria represents the minimum requirements for receiving wild horses from National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for domestication (rehoming).

Transport

  1. The applicant is responsible for providing adequate transport of the animals from the location specified by National Parks and Wildlife Service to their new home. National Parks and Wildlife Service reserves the right to inspect trailers, crates and trucks before transport and refuse loading if NPWS staff believe the trailer does not ensure the safe transport of the animals. Transport vehicles must meet the requirements of the Australasian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock.
  2. All trailers and trucks must have a sliding rear gate.
  3. Maximum transport durations without unloading for a spell, food and water for most classes of horses is 12 hours from the location of pick up from National Parks and Wildlife Service.
    1. maximum transport duration is reduced to 8 hours when ambient temperature along the transport route exceeds 30 degrees Celsius
    2. additional transport duration restrictions apply for other classes of horses, e.g. foals and heavily pregnant mares, in accordance with the Australasian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock.

Facilities

  1. The applicant must provide proper and sufficient food, water, shelter, care and a safe, appropriate facility for containing the animals. Minimum facility requirements are:
    • yarding (required on arrival)
      • 1.8 metre-high fences for an animal two years of age or older
      • 1.5 metre-high fences for a yearling
      • fences constructed from metal or wood posts and rails
      • minimum space of 12 m2 per adult horse, and 9 m2 per yearling or foal
      • well-drained surface
      • freedom from harassment/ injury by other horses
      • shade and/or shelter
    • paddocking (all horses are expected to be paddocked as soon as possible after initial yarding)
      • housed with at least one other horse (domestic horses may help with the transition)
      • standard stock fencing consisting of post and rail, conventional stock barrier, electric, or a combination
      • fencing can be 1.2 to 1.5 metres in height
      • no more than 1 to 4 horses per 2 hectares (depending on pasture quality and availability).
  2. Heavily pregnant mares must have access to an appropriate area to foal.
  3. Stallions may need to be initially yarded longer than other classes of horses (i.e. more than two weeks), and hence require yards larger than the minimum requirements. A crush or race must be available for safe gelding to occur.
  4. If horses are being transported via a truck without a full ramp, a suitable, accessible and well-maintained ramp must be available for the unloading of horses on arrival.

Experience

  1. Applicants must have the skills and experience necessary to train and handle unbroken (unstarted) horses using the principles of equitation science.

Husbandry

  1. The applicant acknowledges that the horses are wild and unhandled and, as such, have received no training, farriery, dental treatment, first aid or preventative health care, such as vaccinations and deworming.
  2. Horses must be inspected at least once daily.

Responsibilities

  1. Where possible, animals will be selected to meet the applicant's specified preferences. Where this is not possible, animals will be selected for the applicant, with the preference to retain horses in family groups wherever possible. An applicant is to take possession and ownership of all animals designated for them.
  2. The applicant agrees to maintain regular contact with National Parks and Wildlife Service during trapping operations and provide transport for animals from the location specified by National Parks and Wildlife Service to their new home within 48 hours of being notified. Animals can be collected by prior appointment only.
  3. Transfer of the animals to the applicant is final on pick up. On loading to the applicant's transport, the applicant becomes solely responsible for the animal's care, welfare and all associated costs and liability.
  4. The animals cannot be knowingly sold, traded, given away or transferred for:
    • rodeos or similar events
    • slaughter or processing for meat or by-products.
  5. The animals cannot be knowingly sold, traded, given away or transferred via a public saleyard or auction within three months of receival.
  6. Before applying to rehome stallions, applicants are to ensure they have identified a local veterinarian that is willing to geld mature stallions that have received minimal handling and in a field situation.
  7. The animals must not be returned to publicly managed lands. Penalties apply for releasing animals onto any public land, including National Parks and Wildlife Service land, and offenders will be prosecuted.
  8. The applicant acknowledges that NPWS staff or its representatives may conduct compliance inspections of the location where the animals are being kept.
  9. National Parks and Wildlife Service reserves the right to refuse an application for rehoming if an applicant does not meet the criteria specified by National Parks and Wildlife Service.
  10. A Property Identification Code (PIC) must be supplied for the location where the animals are to be kept.
  11. An application must be made for a minimum of 5 animals. Applications for 4 animals or less should be made directly to wild horse rehoming groups and individuals.
  12. An application for more than 25 animals may require additional verification by National Parks and Wildlife Service or its authorised representatives relating to standard of care and compliance checks.
  13. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have no convictions related to cruelty to animals.
  14. After 4 months of receipt of animals, applicants are to notify National Parks and Wildlife Service of the fate of the animals received (i.e. sold, transferred, died, euthanised, retained). Brand and/or microchip numbers (if applicable) and the names and addresses of the new owner must be supplied if the animal has been sold or transferred. Information will be recorded by National Parks and Wildlife Service for program improvement purposes.
  15. Non-compliance of an approved applicant with the guidelines will prevent the applicant receiving any further horses from National Parks and Wildlife Service. Evidence of animal cruelty will be referred to RSPCA NSW.

To apply

Applicants must complete and submit an Application to Rehome Wild Horses form. Once approved, the applicant is eligible to rehome wild horses from National Parks and Wildlife Services.

Application form

Animal Health Australia (AHA) 2012. Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock. Canberra. www.animalwelfarestandards.net.au/files/2021/06/Land-transport-of-livestock-Standards-and-Guidelines-Version-1.-1-21-September-2012.pdf

Friend, T. H. 2001. A review of recent research on the transportation of horses. Journal of Animal Science. 79, E32–E40.

Hampton, J. O., Hyndman, T. H., Laurence, M., Perry, A. L., Adams, P. and Collins, T. 2016. Animal welfare and use of procedural documents: limitations and refinement. Wildlife Research. 43, 599–603.

NSW Agriculture, 1996. NSW Animal Welfare Code of Practice No 3 – Horses in riding centres and boarding stables. www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/animal-welfare/animal-care-and-welfare/other/companion-animal-files/nsw-animal-welfare-code-of-practice-no-3-horses-in-riding-centres-and-boarding-stables

NSW Department of Primary Industries, 2007. Pastures for Horses. Primefacts. 525. www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/109982/pastures-for-horses.pdf

Padalino, B. 2015. Effects of the different transport phases on equine health status, behaviour, and welfare: A review. Journal of Veterinary Behaviour. 10, 272–282.

Weeks, C. A., McGreevy, P., and Waran, N. K. 2012. Welfare issues related to transport and handling of both trained and unhandled horses and ponies. Equine Veterinary Education. 24, 423–430.