Keeping horses on small properties

Page last updated: Monday, 3 December 2018 - 12:09pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Horses and legislation

To protect the natural resources of Western Australia and its landscapes, and to ensure land is used within its capability, all landowners and land managers have responsibilities. Horse owners and managers need to be aware of the following Acts:

  • Under the Soil and Land Conservation Regulations 1992 owners and managers are deemed to owe a duty of care to the land and native vegetation.
  • The Environmental Protection Act 1986 regulates against pollution and environmental degradation.
  • The Local Government Act 1995 provides local government authorities (LGA) with powers and to have their own zoning regulations. It is advisable to check with your LGA before embarking on a horse-keeping venture or intensifying the use of land where horses are currently kept.

Natural resource legislation exists to ensure that land is used sustainably. LGAs will be able to advise you of your rights and obligations as a horse keeper and about the processes and time involved in getting approval to run horses.

Identification and movement

Western Australia has a comprehensive, mandatory livestock identification and ownership system. All livestock owners must be registered and their stock identified in accordance with the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Identification and Movement of Stock and Apiaries) Regulations 2013 (BAM (IMSA) Regulations).

To register as an owner you need to complete a form available from the website or the Brands Office of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.  See Livestock ownership, identification and movement in Western Australia for more information. After the Brands Office receives the form it will register you as an owner and allocate your registered identifiers and a Property Identification Code (PIC).

The prescribed method of identification for horses is a freeze or fire brand on the horse’s left shoulder. If you purchase a horse that is already branded, you do not have to re-brand it however you must have documentation to show ownership.

If owners wish to brand newly acquired stock, the registered brand must be applied immediately below the existing brand on the left shoulder.

Alternative identification such as a microchip can be used under specific conditions as an approved identifier in place of a brand.

Land and horse keeping

When planning for horse keeping, there are broadly three types of land that need to be recognised to match the carrying capacity with the best management system:

  • All year access areas are gentle to moderate slopes and winter dry sandy loam soils. They provide ongoing access for horses except when surface vegetative cover becomes too sparse.
  • Restricted access areas include areas which become waterlogged in winter, steep slopes, highly erodible sandy, shallow or poorly structured soils.
  • Prohibited access areas are extreme slopes, areas affected by gullying or salinity, creek lines, or areas of native vegetation.

These three classifications need to be considered when assessing stocking rates and compatible management systems.

How many horses?

How many horses can you run on a given area of land? Obviously the answer to this is related to the classification of land type, the rainfall and also to the improvements on the land, fences, watering points, stabling and yard facilities, and your financial and physical capability to be able to feed your horses if it is required.