Provide first aid and emergency care for horses

This unit of competency specifies the outcomes required to measure and record vital signs of horses; identify and report signs of common illnesses and injuries; provide emergency care and follow first aid policies and procedures; make pre and post-race health and fitness assessments of horses; apply treatments under supervision; and follow the rules of racing related to the administration of prohibited substances.To undertake this unit the candidate will be able to apply safe horse handling skills and workplace OHS standards. It is recommended that RGRPSH201A Handle horses be delivered before or in conjunction with this unit of competency.This unit of competency operates in workplace 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, foremen, trainers and others authorised to provide first aid and emergency care for 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



Recognise and report signs of ill health or injury in horses.

1. Temperature, pulse and respiration are measured and recorded .

2. Hydration levels and capillary refill are observed and reported .

3. Signs of common illnesses in horses are identified and reported.

4. Signs of shock in horses are identified and reported.

5. Signs of common injuries in horses are identified and reported.

Assess illnesses or injuries in horses.

6. Incident site is inspected and assessed prior to helping horses.

7. First aid policy and procedures with respect to obligations to owners, state regulations, stable policy and duty of care are followed.

8. Referral procedures for injury treatment and emergency care are followed.

9. Horses are calmed and restrained and risks are identified.

10. Threat to life of illness or injury is considered and plan of action is determined.

Apply basic first aid to horses.

11. Restraints are used to prevent further injury or to apply first aid to horses.

12. Wounds are cleaned and protected from further contamination or injury.

13. Swelling is controlled .

14. Bandages are applied for management of bleeding, swelling, wounds and possible fractures.

15. Horses are nursed to reduce impact of shock, distress and pain.

16. Horse behaviour and vital signs are monitored and observations recorded.

Respond to hoof and leg illnesses and injuries.

17. Feet and legs are inspected for signs of injury, soreness or foreign bodies .

18. Common injuries and ailments to hooves, feet and legs are identified.

19. Poultice is applied .

20. Condition and fit of horse shoes are assessed.

Assess health and fitness of horses.

21. Pre and post-race assessment of horse for injuries, distress, health and fitness is implemented.

22. Pharmaceutical or therapeutic treatments are applied under trainer or veterinary instructions and supervision.

23. Rules relating to prohibited substances and alternative treatments are known and applied.

Required Skills

Required skills

applying safe handling and work practices when dealing with horses

applying basic first aid to horses

applying quarantine control measures for isolation of sick horses and prevention of transference of disease by horses, other animals and humans

assessing vital signs of horses

assessing and responding to injuries in horses

calming and restraining horses

communicating with employer, supervisor, co-workers and others using assertive communication techniques to gather and relay information related to providing horses with first aid and emergency care

evaluating risks associated with catching, handling and restraining horses

following instructions of supervisor

identifying behaviour of individual horses

identifying and correctly using different treatments under supervision

identifying common illnesses and injuries in horses

incorporating safe operating procedures into all instructions

providing assistance to others in the workplace

reporting horse irregularities to stable nominated person

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

supporting others in handling and providing treatment to horses in the appropriate manner

using numeracy skills to measure vital signs

written communication skills to complete workplace documentation and reports.

Required knowledge

basic industry terminology related to handling and treating horses

communication procedures within stable and wider racing industry

common horse behaviour, social traits and vices

common illnesses and injuries in horses

disease control and reporting requirements

effective working relationships, including teamwork

handling techniques for horses

horse first aid

methods of restraining horses

racing industry animal welfare requirements

racing industry safety requirements, including safe operating procedures

relevant rules of racing

signs of shock in horses

signs of lameness in horses

types of treatments.

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 providing first aid and emergency care for horses

implementation of procedures and timely techniques for the safe, effective and efficient provision of first aid and emergency care for horses

working with others to undertake and complete first aid and emergency care 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 provide first aid and emergency care for horses

safe handling areas, such as racing stables, and training 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.

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, 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 provide first aid and emergency care for horses. Workplaces include harness and thoroughbred racing stables and racecourses, training tracks and public areas.

Measuring and recording may include:

measuring rectal temperature with mercury and digital thermometers

writing diary entries for temperature in degrees centigrade

measuring heart rate over 30 seconds, then calculating in beats per minute

writing diary entries for heart rate in beats per minute

measuring respiration in breaths per minute

writing diary entries for respiration in breaths per minute.

Hydration level reporting methods may include:

verbal and diary entry of observation of neck skin pinch rebound time measured in seconds

verbal and diary entry of observation of capillary refill time measured in seconds.

Common illnesses may include:

circulatory disorders

eye, nose and mouth disorders, including:




digestive disorders, including:


diarrhoea or scouring

metabolic disorders:

exertional rhabdomyolosis (tying up)


musculo-skeletal disorders:

back soreness

knocked down hip

shin soreness

respiratory disorders, including:

exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPH)

respiratory infections

travel sickness

skin disorders, including:

girth galls

rain scald


whither sores.

Causes for shock may include:


extensive wounds

fractured limbs

loss of blood


traumatic accidents, for example hit by car.

Common injuries may include:



girth galls

joint injuries



speedy cutting

sprained ligaments or tendons

strained muscles

tack rubs


Incident site may be inspected and assessed to identify:

potential hazards for illness or injury of horses or people, including:

building or facility damage

crush or impact hazards

electrocution hazards

slip, trip or fall hazards

toxic substances

rescue equipment required, including:




rescue specialist assistance requirements:

emergency services

veterinary assistance

animal health specialist services.

First aid policy and procedures may include:

administration of treatments

communication procedures when horses are treated

disease prevention and control

emergency care

emergency phone numbers, for example veterinarian and fire department

permissible treatments

procedure for recording treatments

procedure for recording and reporting vital signs

routine health checks

replenishing supplies of first aid kits

system of referral for injury treatment

staff access to first aid treatments and materials.

Reasons referral to a specialist may be necessary include:

horse may:

be insured

have to be treated with race day or non-race day prohibited substances

have to be withdrawn from competition

require prescription medication

require stitching or specialist injury management or treatment

illness may be:

contagious condition

notifiable disease

passed on to humans

illness or injury may be:

life threatening or have consequences to ongoing career of horse

result of neglect or non-compliance with duty of care.

Horses may be restrained using:

bit and head collar or bridle


leg lift

skin pinch


Risks associated with handling horses may include:


horse injury


personal injury


Controlling risks associated with handling horses may include:

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

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

following safe operating procedures

identifying and reporting unsafe work practices

identifying emergency situations, for example:

gear breakage

horse getting loose

understanding individual horse behaviour

wearing personal protective equipment.

Basic first aid may include:

applying bandages for:

controlling bleeding and swelling

drawing out foreign bodies or pus


wound protection

cleaning wounds

controlling bleeding

managing shock

nursing sick, in pain or anxious horses

observing behaviour signs and symptoms of illness and injury

preventing where possible further injury or spread of disease

providing clean, warm or cool shelter out of inclement weather

quarantining sick horses

removing where possible cause of illness or injury

restraining an injured or cast horse to prevent further injury

taking and monitoring vital signs

treating swelling and inflammation.

First aid equipment may include:

antiseptic creams, lotions or sprays

bandages and wound dressings

infection control items

inflammation and swelling control items, including:

cold hosing


pressure bandaging



wound cleaning solutions.

Wounds are cleaned with consideration to:

options for treatment when animal is in pain or reluctant to stand still

possible requirement for stitching of wound

potential for infection

presence of foreign bodies or internal damage.

Swelling can be controlled by:

cold water therapy:


whirlpool boots

walking in cold water

ice therapy:

ice boots

icepacks using available sources, such as frozen peas or ice blocks

pressure bandaging.

Nursing may include:

adjusting rugs to ensure adequate warmth

keeping horse quiet and calm

monitoring vital signs and behaviour regularly

sponging or hosing to lower temperature.

Signs of injury, soreness or foreign bodies in horse's feet may include:

distorted shape or angle of limbs

favouring a leg


irregular movement in some or all gaits

reluctance to allow leg or foot to be handled

reluctance to move

resting a foot


visible object in foot.

Types of injuries and ailments to hooves, feet and legs may include:

capped hocks



loose shoe

navicular disease

sand cracks

seedy toe

shin soreness

sole bruise and abscess


Application of poultice may include:

selecting drawing agent, including:

commercial preparations

herbal or other treatments

heat treatment

applying protective covering, such as:

paper, plastic or other layers

adhesive bandages and bandage cover

poultice boots

sole protectors.

Condition and fit of horse shoes would include:

shoes display even wear

shoe seated along hoof wall avoiding pressure on bars and sole

shoes firmly fitted to hoof, and nails tight enough to ensure shoe fit is stable

shoe removed if considered likely to cause further damage by:

identifying and describing function of shoeing tools required to remove a loose shoe

lifting and holding front and back legs in safe and appropriate position to remove shoe

removing shoe using personal protective equipment, appropriate tools and techniques by:

loosening and removing nail clenches

removing shoe with minimal damage to hoof wall

shoes shaped to fit hoof.

Pre and post-race assessment must include:

pre-race assessment:

assessing vital signs

checking horse for illnesses and injuries

checking feed and water intake

checking manure quantity and quality

checking shoe wear and fit

observing behaviour

post-race assessment:

black eyes


horse's recovery rate

heat stress


limb injuries or heat or swelling

muscle soreness

shifting or sprung plates.

Pharmaceutical or therapeutic treatments may include:


antibiotics and other anti-infective agents


prescribed medications



oral medications and pastes


topical medications


therapeutic :






ice and heat





Rules include:

Australian and local rules of racing of the state or territory regulatory racing body.

Prohibited substances include:

substances listed below as well as other items defined by racing regulatory authority from time to time, including:

acidifying agents

alkalising agents



anti-inflammatory agents


buffering agents


general and local anaesthetics


muscle relaxants


respiratory stimulants




vitamins administered by injection.


Unit Sector

Harness and thoroughbred racing codes

Employability Skills

This unit contains employability skills.

Licensing Information

Refer to Unit Descriptor