In recent years equine advocates have placed growing attention on show horse welfare. Particularly in the United States, the horse industry is under increased pressure to address issues stemming from training negligence, owner/rider naivety or misinformation, and competitors and trainers doing whatever it takes to win.

Many proactive equine organizations have responded by instituting new rules and better educating their memberships. Further, scientists are putting research behind specific training aids such as hyperflexion and equipment such as whips.

Melissa Voigt, MS, PAS, graduate student in Purdue University’s department of Youth Development and Agricultural Education, however, believes more can be done. She presented the results of recent industry interviews she conducted as part of an ongoing study at the 9th Annual International Society for Equitation Science, held July 18-20 at the University of Delaware, in Newark.

"The purpose of my study was to gain a better understanding of the welfare concerns industry professionals have of stock-type show horses (e.g., those involved with American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), American Paint Horse Association, National Reining Horse Association, 4-H, etc.) and to advocate a better means of improving show horse treatment and care," she said.

Examples of questions she asked included: What practices do these individuals observe and believe to be most detrimental to the horses’ welfare, and what do they believe is the best approach to preventing compromises to these horses’ welfare?

In her study Voigt interviewed 13 randomly selected industry professionals