Rulings To Help Assure ‘Welfare’ Of Quarter Horses

Age old traditions of horse handling techniques are sometimes taboo with modern society.

Heavy controversy arises between the most conscientious horse owner, and the uninformed outsider making largely inaccurate evaluations.

Animal welfare is the well-being of animals, yet the standards of “good” animal welfare vary considerably between different contexts.

These standards are under constant review and are debated, created and revised by animal welfare groups, legislators and academics worldwide.

Concern for animal welfare is often based on the belief that non-human animals should be given consideration based on their inabilities to care for their own well-being

These concerns can include how animals are slaughtered for food, how they are used in scientific research, how they are kept and how human activities affect the welfare and survival of wild species.

One view asserts that animals are not consciously aware and hence are unable to experience poor welfare.

This argument is at odds with the predominant view of modern neuroscientists, who now generally hold that animals are conscious.

Another view is based on the animal rights position that animals should not be regarded as property and any use of animals by humans is unacceptable.

Recognizing that animal welfare is the single most important issue facing the equine industry, executive committee of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), headquartered in Amarillo, Texas, created the Animal Welfare Commission in 2012.

“The Animal Welfare Commission serves as AQHA’s primary body for rules, policies and procedures related to all areas of animal welfare,” according to  Ralph Seekins, AQHA president.

Recognizing that animal welfare is the single most important issue facing the equine industry today, executive committee of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), Amarillo, Texas, has approved recommendations made by the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission during the 2017 AQHA Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Committee members are Norm Luba, Dr. Jim Heird, Ralph Seekins, Stan Weaver and Butch Wise.

The Animal Welfare Commission’s mission is: 1.) Identify issues negatively affecting the welfare of the American Quarter Horse. 2.) Stay current on all animal welfare issues. 3.) Recommend actions that will help to protect the American Quarter Horse from inhumane practices and AQHA and its members from the negative impacts associated with those practices.

“The AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, in an effort to do right by the horse, shares discussion, action items and recommendations with alliance partners,” Seekins said.

The commission reports directly to the executive committee, which evaluates all proposals in relation to the current state of the industry.

Halter classes remain a key part of American Quarter Horse Association horses with travel key to judge’s placings. Soundness is essential with the executive committee of the American Quarter Horse Association changing ruling that horses be eliminated from competitions when “lameness is obvious at a walk.”

The executive committee has approved several recommendations from the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission at the 2017 AQHA Convention in San Antonio, Texas, Seekins said.

These include:

  • Fines generated from drug and animal welfare violations be placed in the animal welfare budget to support the steward program.
  • The AQHA should encourage show managers to establish an isolation protocol at AQHA shows using the industry-developed template to ensure horses on the grounds are protected should there be a disease outbreak. In addition, show management should be encouraged to conduct practice runs or audits to ensure proper procedures are carried out.
  • Develop a one-page educational flyer to educate exhibitors on the importance of vaccinating their horses for equine influenza virus and equine herpesvirus prior to entering AQHA show grounds.
  • The AQHA staff should continue work on an educational flyer regarding reporting animal abuse.
  • Effective January 1, 2018, AQHA rules will be reworded to read: “Lameness is obvious at a walk.” Currently, the rule states that obvious lameness is “marked nodding, hitching, or shortened stride.”
  • Form a joint task force made up of members from the Animal Welfare Commission, Professional Horsemen’s Council, and the Show Format and Procedures Subcommittee to discuss options to increase AQHA steward presence at shows.
  • Effective January. 1, 2018, a no-jerk-down rule for tie-down roping will be implemented. The rule will read: “In the tie-down roping class, an exhibitor will receive a no score for that run if they bring the animal over backwards with the animal landing on its back or head with all four feet in the air.”
  • Effective immediately, the “use of any drug, chemical, foreign substance, surgical procedure, or trauma that would alter a horse’s normal tail function” will be added to the prohibited inhumane practices set forth in AQHA Rules.
  • Form a task force to review AQHA’s definition of normal tail function.
  • Effective immediately, AQHA stewards can show at AQHA events that they are not assigned to steward.
  • Effective immediately, allow hydroxyzine (an antihistamine) to be submitted on a medication report form as long as all requirements of the AQHA rule, which deals with authorization of administration of conditionally permitted therapeutic medications, are met.
  • Effective January 1, 2018, and with respect to the medication rules that govern show horses, furosemide will be removed from the list of conditionally permitted therapeutic medications and added to the list of forbidden drugs or substances in AQHA rules.
  • Develop and publish a list of medications that can be reported on a medication report form as long as all rule requirements are met. Develop and publish a list of forbidden substances.
  • Effective January 1, 2018, adds hair testing to specific rules which deal with drug testing.