The Harness Horse Cadet Scheme

What is involved?
Cadet School
On the Job Recognition
Cadet Field Days


New Zealand has a reputation for producing world class equine athletes that perform with excellence throughout the Australasian and the International equine arena.  New Zealand is producing horses that lead the world in both thoroughbred and harness racing and much of this success can be attributed to the young men and women who work tirelessly to ensure their equine athletes are in top physical condition.

Harness Racing New Zealand recognised the need to train our participants to provide the best possible care, preparation and race result for the New Zealand racehorse, whether it is for a maiden trot at Gore , the Auckland Trotting Cup or the Hunter Cup in Victoria, Australia.  

Not only does Harness Racing New Zealand provide training for our up and coming superstar reinsmen and women.  They recognise the importance of having excellent stablehands to ensure that our harness horses are getting the best possible care and attention so they can perform at their best.  They also understand the importance of having quality stable foremen capable of running the stables when the trainer is campaigning horses away from home.

The Harness Racing Cadet Scheme has been running for twenty plus years and have produced world class reinsmen world champions even. Cadets schools are found around New Zealand and offer a number of qualifications  to meet the skill levels required to have a rewarding career in the Harness Racing Industry.

What is involved?

Participants in the cadet scheme are working towards a NZQA National Certificate in Equine either Level 3 Stable Procedures for those who wish to be a stablehand.  Or a Level 4 National Certificate in Equine – Harness Racing for those who want a career as a driver.  For those wishing to become either stable foreman or trainer  a Level 4 National Certificate in Stable Management is available.  

Depending on the qualification a trainee chooses and the experience he/she already has the time to complete these qualifications can be from 18 – 48 months.

To be eligible for training candidates must :

  1. Be employed in a harness racing stable
  2. Hold a minimum of a stablehand licence as required by HRNZ.
  3. Be aged 15 years or older
  4. Have completed NCEA study at high school (if still at school Gateway could be an option) 

Off the Job Training (Cadet School)

Trainees are also required to complete 60 hours of off the job- training (classroom sessions) per year of their qualification.   The off the job training is run by Harness Racing New Zealands education team who hold either fortnightly meetings, field days or block courses.  Professionals from the industry come in to assist tutoring the trainees on all aspects of the horse, harness racing and stable practice skills.  Topics taught at these meetings include; driving skills, veterinarian care, nutrition, conformation, anatomy, the judicial process and much more.  These sessions are designed to give some theory behind the practical work trainees do everyday in their stables (workplaces).  Trainees have access to resources, workbooks and assessments with embedded numeracy and literacy that have been developed by equine industry professionals.   These are excellent resources for the trainees now and to keep for future reference as they progress their career within the industry.

Cadet Field Days.

As part of off-job training the Education Team run one or two Cadet Field Days throughout each region in New Zealand per year.  The Canterbury Cadet School has just completed a Field Day held at Addington Raceway which covered subjects including Standing and Mobile Starts, Veterinarian Care, Conformation of the Horse as well as Selecting and Fitting Gear. The day was very well received and the Education Team would like to acknowledge the fantastic support and help from industry horsemen, veterinarians, media personel and other industry participants who make these field days so successful!

On the Job Recognition

Industry training recognises the skill, experience and knowledge trainees learn on the job and credits them for this. Unit standards achieved in the workplace can include breaking and gaiting, gearing up the horse, grooming, driving at workouts and trials and much more.

Training advisors from the Equine Training Unit of  AGITO will complete regular visits to the workplace to assess trainees performance in the stables and the practical skills they need to perform their job. It is their role to have the practical unit standards signed off by the employer once the trainee has accomplished them to industry requirements.  These three advisors all have an extensive background in the racing industry so are well qualified for the role.