Policy: Firing of horses' legs

Policy Type: Policy
Status: Current
Manual Reference: 10g
Date ratified:  November 2018


Firing of a horse’s leg, whether by application of extreme heat or cold, is an unacceptable practice and is a prohibited surgical procedure, according to section 21 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.


The purpose of this policy is to clarify the inclusion of freeze firing as a surgical procedure offence under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 (“the Act”), section 21 Surgical Procedure Offences: 2(b).*

The definition of thermal cautery is usually interpreted as the application of heat but must also include the application of extreme cold (freeze firing). 

Under section 2 of the Act, a definition is provided: “firing, in relation to a horse, means a procedure which involves the application of thermal cautery to the legs of the horse and which creates tissue damage to, or an inflammatory reaction in, the legs of the horse.”

*From the Animal Welfare Act 1999:
21 Surgical procedure offences
A person commits an offence who, without reasonable excuse, acts in contravention of or fails to comply with—
(2) A person commits an offence who—
    (a) crops, or causes to be cropped, the ears of a dog; or
    (b) performs, or causes to be performed, blistering or firing or nicking on a horse.