Are You Up to Par with the Equine Code of Practice?


It is our duty as horse owners and caretakers to provide the best possible care for our horses. Horses are dependent on us to provide their care and welfare.

So what is good horse care? What does welfare mean? What makes a responsible horse owner? Ask these questions to 10 different horse people, there will be 11 different opinions. But who’s right?

Equine Guelph provides an easy way to learn the National Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines – Welfare Code Decoder

These are just some of the reasons the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines was developed and revised. The Equine Code of Practice was developed by a group of distinguished equine scientists and representatives from all industry sectors across Canada to address these questions and more by using evidence-based research to establish a standard.  This code of practice goes in depth into the topics of duty of care, facilities and housing, feed and water, health management, feedlot management, husbandry management, reproductive management, transportation, change or end of a career, and euthanasia.

The requirements and recommendations in the Equine Code of Practice answer questions using the framework of the Five Freedoms:

  • Freedom from Hunger & Thirst
  • Freedom from Discomfort
  • Freedom from Pain, Injury, or Disease
  • Freedom to Express Normal Behaviours
  • Freedom from Fear & Distress

To better understand the code of practice, visit Equine Guelph’s Healthcare tool of the month: Welfare Code Decoder.The Code Decoder highlights key takeaways and provides checklists for each section of the code of practice. Once you complete the checklist the Code Decoder will provide recommendations. The code decoder also provides additional resources to learn more about equine welfare. It is a fast, easy way to see if you are up to par with the code.  Remember, it is our responsibility as horse owners, caretakers, etc. to ensure the best possible care for our equine friends.

Want to learn more? Check out Equine Guelph’s  ‘Horse Care & Welfare’ short course and join the learning community this September 16th-27th!

Notes to Editor:

Equine Guelph is the horse owners’ and care givers’ Centre at the University of Guelph in Canada. It is a unique partnership dedicated to the health and well-being of horses, supported and overseen by equine industry groups. Equine Guelph is the epicentre for academia, industry and government – for the good of the equine industry as a whole. For further information, visit

Story by: Melissa McGilloway

Health care tool link: