The Cadet Scheme


The Harness Racing Cadet Scheme has been running for nearly fifty years and has produced world class reinsman. Cadet academies are found around New Zealand and offer a range 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 New Zealand Certificate in Equine either Level 2 Equine Skills for those who wish to be a stablehand, Level 3 Harness Racing Stable Assistant for those working towards a career in driving or training. Or a Level 4 New Zealand Certificate in Equine –Harness Racing Driver or Harness Trainer for those who want a career as a driver or a trainer.

Also available is a Level 3 & 4 breeding qualification for those involved in the breeding sector.

Depending on the qualification a trainee chooses, the time to complete all three qualifications above and gain a licence to drive at the races or train horses publicly will take 36 – 42 months

To be eligible for training candidates must:

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

Off the Job Training (Cadets)

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 Zealand’s 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 theoretical knowledge behind the practical work trainees do every day in their 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.

On the Job Recognition

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

Training advisors from Harness Racing New Zealand will complete regular visits to the workplace to assess trainee’s 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 advisors all have an extensive background in the equine industry.

Industry Information