Handle horses

This unit of competency specifies the outcomes required to identify, and safely catch, control and handle racehorses for the purposes of training and racing.It is recommended that RGRCMN201A Follow OHS procedures and observe environmental work practices be delivered in conjunction with or before this unit of competency.This unit of competency operates in work environments of racing stables, paddocks, yards, racecourses and public areas.Licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements may apply to this unit. Check with your State Principal Racing Authority for current license or registration requirements.


This unit of competency supports stablehands, strappers, trainers and others authorised to handle horses.

Competencies attained in this unit apply to the harness and thoroughbred codes of the industry. Consequently when performance criteria are applied they will relate to the harness or thoroughbred code and statements of attainment will reflect this distinction.

This unit can be contextualised for other industries while also maintaining the integrity of the unit.

Elements and Performance Criteria



Identify horses.

1. Features used to identify horses are evaluated.

2. Horses are identified using industry standards .

Safely approach, catch and lead horses.

3. Behaviour and level of education of horses are identified and considered prior to handling.

4. Risks associated with catching and leading horses are evaluated.

5. Appropriate gear for catching and leading horses is correctly identified and applied.

6. Horses are approached and caught .

7. Effective leading techniques are demonstrated.

Control horses in training and competition environments.

8. Risks associated with handling horses in public areas are evaluated.

9. Safe leading, holding and controlling techniques are applied to horses.

10. Safe leading and handling techniques in confined spaces are demonstrated.

Required Skills

Required skills

applying safe handling and work practices when dealing with horses

catching, leading and handling a range of horses in a variety of environments

communicating with employer, supervisor, co-workers and others using assertive communication techniques to gather and relay information related to horse handling activities

completing duties in accordance with safe operating procedures and nominated time frame

evaluating risks associated with catching and handling horses

identifying and correctly using different items of handling gear

identifying features of horses using industry standards

identifying horse behaviour, social traits and vices

leading and handling horses in enclosed spaces

reading and interpreting workplace documentation, including relevant rules of racing

relating to people from a range of social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and with varying physical and mental abilities.

Required knowledge

basic industry terminology related to handling horses

basic understanding of applicable federal, state or territory legislation and regulations, and national standards and codes of practice relevant to full range of processes relating to own work role and responsibilities

communication procedures within stable and wider racing industry

common horse behaviour, social traits and vices

purpose of using different items of handling gear and appropriate personal protective equipment

racing industry animal welfare requirements

racing industry safety requirements, including safe operating procedures

relevant rules of racing

relevant road safety rules

reporting requirements in relation to handling horses safely.

Evidence Required

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit

The evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit must be relevant to workplace operations and satisfy all of the requirements of the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge and the range statement of this unit and include evidence of the following:

knowledge of the requirements, procedures and instructions that are to apply when handling horses

implementation of procedures and timely techniques for the safe, effective and efficient handling of horses

working with others to undertake and complete horse handling procedures that meet required outcomes.

Evidence should be collected over a period of time using a range of racehorses of different ages and sexes, and at different stages of preparation in racing stable and track environments.

Context of and specific resources for assessment

Competency must be assessed in a racing workplace that provides access to the required resources or simulated environment approved by the relevant State Principal Racing Authority. Assessment is to occur under standard and authorised work practices, safety requirements and environmental constraints. It is to comply with relevant regulatory requirements or Australian Standards requirements.

Assessment of the practical components of this unit will be by observation of relevant skills.

The following resources must be available:

a variety of harness or thoroughbred horses

materials and equipment relevant to assessing candidate's ability to handle horses safely

safe handling areas, such as racing stables and racetracks

work instructions and related documentation.

Method of assessment

Assessment methods must satisfy the endorsed Assessment Guidelines of the Racing Training Package.

The suggested strategies for the assessment of this unit are:

written and/or oral assessment of candidate's required knowledge

observed, documented and firsthand testimonial evidence of candidate's application of practical tasks

simulation exercises conducted in a State Principal Racing Authority approved simulated environment.

Evidence is required to be demonstrated over a period of time, therefore where performance is not directly observed any evidence should be authenticated by supervisors or other appropriate persons.

This unit may be assessed in a holistic way with other units of competency relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role, for example:

RGRCMN201A Follow OHS procedures and observe environmental work practices.

Guidance information for assessment

Assessment methods should reflect workplace demands (e.g. literacy and numeracy demands) and the needs of particular target groups (e.g. people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, women, people with a language background other than English, youth and people from low socioeconomic backgrounds).

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording in the performance criteria is detailed below.

The range statement provides details of how this competency can be used in the workplaces of the racing industry to handle horses. Workplaces include harness and thoroughbred stables and racecourses, training tracks and public areas.

Features of a horse include:






Industry standards are:

standards that are used by the regulatory racing body to classify and register horses.

Identification of behaviour and level of education of horses involves:

assessment of behaviour patterns prior to handling

communication traits of horses, including:

body signals

non-verbal (mouth and face)


education level required for safe handling and controlling

identifying good behaviour and bad behaviour traits and vices

understanding senses of a horse, including:






sixth sense.

Horse behaviour problems may include:

bed eating

box walking

crib biting

pushing or barging

rug chewing


wind sucking.

Risks associated with catching and leading horses may include:


gear breakage

horse injury


loose horse

personal injury


Controlling risks associated with catching and handling horses includes:

adhering to responsibilities under OHS legislation and workplace practices

adhering to responsibilities under national and state codes of practice; federal, state and territory legislation; and local government regulations covering animal welfare

adhering to rules of training tracks and public venues

awareness of relevant road safety rules

considering variables that influence behaviour of horses, such as:

fences and equipment

other persons or animals


wind and noise

contributing to development of risk control measures

holding horses for veterinary, farriery and other treatments

identifying and reporting unsafe work practices

identifying emergency situations

reporting defective gear, including:

cracked leather or PVC

frayed leads

rusted bits, buckles and clips

understanding individual horse behaviour

using gear or equipment that is approved by the regulatory racing body to be worn by horses when being handled in stables, public places and on training tracks

wearing approved personal protective equipment.

Gear may include:

anti-rearing bits


double clip leads

head collars

head pieces and bits



leg ropes

single clip leads


Horses may be approached and caught by:

checking soundness of gear before approaching

positioning gear in advance of handling

talking to the horse

encouraging horse to face handler

approaching horse from near side

taking extra care with horses in groups

using and fitting appropriate and approved gear.

Leading techniques may include:

applying appropriate pressure should horse rear

allowing some slack in the lead

leading person to person when approaching another horse moving in opposite direction

leading into and out of yards

leading through gates or stable doors, which are open or shut

never leading and carrying something at the same time

never leading two horses at one time

never wrapping lead around any part of handler's body

never letting horse turn its tail to handler

talking to the horse

using both hands on the lead

using leads of suitable length

walking at near side shoulder.

Public areas include:

bridges and roads

shared yards and paddocks



training tracks.

Holding and controlling techniques may be required:

when holding and controlling horses under supervision for veterinarian, farrier or for treatment requirements, by:

placing horse against a wall or suitable fence

using bits, twitches and blindfolds

using non-mechanical aids, such as:

covering an eye

raising a leg

skin hold.

Confined spaces include:



floats and horse trucks

race stalls

swab boxes

swimming pools


treadmills and other walkers.


Unit Sector

Harness and thoroughbred racing codes

Employability Skills

This unit contains employability skills.

Licensing Information

Refer to Unit Descriptor