The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Executive Committee has approved several recommendations from the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission at the 2017 AQHA Convention.

The recommendations ranged from adding specific medications to the AQHA forbidden drugs or substances list to creating educational efforts for specific animal-handling procedures to a recommendation to use all drug- and animal welfare-related fines to support the AQHA steward program.

The approved recommendations approved 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 Jan. 1, 2018, AQHA Rule SHW325.1.2 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 Jan. 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 Rule VIO204.
  • 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 AQHA Rule VIO403 (which deals with authorization of administration of conditionally permitted therapeutic medications) are met.
  • Effective Jan. 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 Rule VIO401.
  • Develop and publish a list of medications that can be reported on a medication report form as long as all requirements of AQHA Rule VIO403 are met. Develop and publish a list of forbidden substances.
  • Effective Jan. 1, 2018, add hair testing to AQHA Rules VIO302 and SHW120.1, both of which deal with drug testing.