Relate animal welfare to track and environmental conditions

This unit of competency specifies the outcomes required to relate the injuries and performance of racing animals to external conditions and present options for improving performance and safety. The unit requires competence in determining track rating and condition and using basic technology. It also requires the demonstration of skills associated with consistent identification of a range of animal welfare issues related to the exercise of racing animals on trial, training and racing tracks.This unit of competency operates in workplace environments of racing administration, stables, kennels, 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 racetrack supervisors, stewards and other industry personnel in identifying a range of racing animal welfare issues that may be related to track design and condition, and presenting options for improving external conditions.

Competencies attained in this unit apply to the greyhound, harness and thoroughbred codes of the industry. Consequently when performance criteria are applied they will relate to either the greyhound code or harness code or the 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



Relate animal physiology to environmental conditions.

1. Animal cooling mechanisms are researched and efficiency is related to ambient temperature and humidity.

2. Influence of other climatic conditions on animal performance is identified.

Relate animal performance to common racing illnesses.

3. Digestive distress is related to track and environmental conditions.

4. Respiratory distress is related to track and environmental conditions.

5. Nervous distress is related to track and environmental conditions.

Relate animal injuries and performance to track design and surfaces.

6. Track camber and tightness of turns are related to performance injuries.

7. Track density and track materials are related to performance injuries.

8. Grading, mowing and watering techniques are related to animal performance.

9. Impact of weather on track surfaces and animal performance is discussed.

Measure factors that may affect animal performance and discuss options for improving performance and safety.

10. Track density and moisture content are measured and results interpreted using standard industry tools .

11. Ambient temperature and humidity are measured and results interpreted using standard industry tools.

12. Track rating is determined using industry standard definitions.

13. Options for improving track conditions for optimal greyhound or horse performance and safety are evaluated.

14. Overall weather conditions are evaluated to determine whether racing can continue.

15. Justification for adjusting or not adjusting track or environmental conditions is presented to stakeholders.

Required Skills

Required skills

applying OHS and environmental work procedures

assessing an individual animal's general health status

communicating with stewards, racing officials, and licensed and registered personnel using assertive communication techniques to gather, interpret and relay information relating to track and environmental conditions and animal welfare

conducting continuous improvement processes

consulting concisely and effectively with colleagues and team members

evaluating advantages or disadvantages of a variety of potential solutions to problems

identifying racing animal behaviour patterns

operating a range of equipment and technology

reading and interpreting workplace documentation, including rules of racing

researching information

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

using measuring devices.

Required knowledge

common racing animal behaviour traits

communication procedures, including reporting lines within the workplace and wider racing industry

climatic conditions

clinical signs related to gastric, respiratory and nervous conditions in racing animals

clinical signs of lameness in racing animals

factors that affect hydration status of racing animals

hazards and potential hazards in the workplace and risk control procedures

mathematical procedures for estimating, measuring and calculating

OHS and environmental legislative requirements

race meeting protocols and reporting requirements

racing industry animal welfare requirements

rules of racing

track construction and design

track ratings and condition

types of equipment and procedures for their operation and maintenance.

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 requirements, procedures and instructions that are to apply when relating animal welfare to track and environmental conditions

demonstration of determination of track ratings and condition using basic technology

implementation of procedures and timely techniques for the safe, effective and efficient application of judgement and skills associated with identifying a range of animal welfare issues related to race meeting operations and rules of racing

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

Evidence should be collected over a period of time in a range of workplace-relevant contexts and include dealings with an appropriate range of situations.

Context of and specific resources for assessment

Competency must be assessed in a racing workplace that provides access to the required resources. 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:

industry-supervised access to a range of racetracks, race meetings, trackwork and kennels or stables relevant to the applicable racing code

supervised access to racing or race-retired animals with illnesses and injuries outlined in the range statement

materials and equipment relevant to assessing candidate's ability to relate animal welfare to track and environment conditions, including:

DVDs or videos of animal locomotion

standard industry tools

veterinary reports, scans and x-rays

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.

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.

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 relate animal welfare to track and environmental conditions. Workplaces include greyhound kennels, harness and thoroughbred stables as well as greyhound, harness and thoroughbred racecourses, training tracks, administration buildings and public areas.

Aspects of animal cooling mechanisms that may affect performance include:

behavioural indicators

care of animals at race meetings, including:

allowing access to water before racing and after travelling long distances or sweating heavily

ensuring animal has access to water after racing

ensuring animal is hosed repeatedly after racing, and scraping or towelling after each hosing

allowing animal to stand in breezy, shaded area

greyhounds are unable to sweat, cooling is by way of evaporation of moisture from the lungs and air passages

horses cool by sweating unless suffering anhidrosis

increases in humidity reduce evaporation effect and reduce ability of animal to maintain appropriate body temperature

increased muscle breakdown caused by heat stress resulting in myoglobinuria and/or severe body breakdown

loss of water from animal's body by evaporation in effort to maintain body temperature results in dehydration

monitoring of hydration level at race meetings following travelling, excitability, heavy sweating and access to water prior to racing

overheating may lead to heat exhaustion or stroke

temperature data logging systems

warm down, cool off, fitness level, rectal temperature and water cooling points, including:





Climatic conditions may include:


cold and fog

high humidity

prevailing air pollution level, which may exacerbate climatic conditions

wind and wind chill.

Digestive distress may include:

conditions that may result in suboptimal racing performance, including:



stomach ulcers.

Respiratory distress may be evidenced by:

bleeding or exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPD)

chronic coughing or pharyngeal lymphoid hyperplasia (PLH)

heart rate before and after race

inflammatory airway disease (IAD)

upper respiratory inflammation

reactive airway disease (RAD)

recovery time after exercise

respiration rate and aerobic performance

thumps or synchronous diaphragmatic flutter (SDF).

Nervous distress may be indicated by:

diarrhoea, possibly due to gastrointestinal disturbances associated with travel to race meeting


exertional rabdomyolisis (tying up)

muscle cramps




twitching or kicking.

Impact from track camber and tightness of turns on performance injuries may include:

bone and soft tissue injuries, including:


bowed tendons

bone chips


muscle damage

shin soreness

strained fetlock joints

suspensory and check ligament


greyhound or horse reaction to different surfaces, cambers, inclines, turns or slopes

harness camber compared to thoroughbred camber

turn radius, camber and speed entering the turn.

Impact from track density and track materials on performance injuries may include:

hard surfaces near chutes and crossing may cause more severe injuries

impact caused by turf roots of kikuyu and cool season grass

track density based on:

track materials

track drainage and irrigation

underlying track geology

track materials, including:




rubberised dirt


synthetic grass

range of surfaces for different training regimes and workloads

thatch and mowing height.

Grading, mowing and watering techniques relate to animal performance by:

excessive grading in wet or heavy conditions may impact on animal's exercise intensity

lack of watering causing dusty conditions may cause respiratory distress

track condition and rating (e.g. fast, good, dead, slow or heavy going) may exacerbate animal's existing injury and relate directly to new injuries

uneven track marks due to rushed grading may cause impact on animal's action

uneven dragging may cause 'false footing'

uneven rolling may cause 'bridging', resulting in 'false footing'.

Standard industry tools may include:


moisture meter


rain gauge


wind speed measurement.

Considerations when evaluating options for improving track conditions may include:

achievable and realistic actions on a given race day

long-term renovation of track

short-term management of track.

Track conditions for optimal greyhound or horse performance are defined as:

industry-agreed track conditions to suit majority of starters, not an individual greyhound's or horse's preferred conditions.

Weather conditions evaluation as set down in:

guidelines for racing animal welfare

rules of racing.

Areas to be considered when presenting justification for adjusting or not adjusting track or environmental conditions will include:


general public

image of racing

options that are feasible or not feasible within time available, budget or resource constraints

options that provide the opportunity to improve potential performance or increase or decrease risk of illness or injury.


Unit Sector

Greyhound, harness and thoroughbred racing codes

Employability Skills

This unit contains employability skills.

Licensing Information

Refer to Unit Descriptor