A dedication to putting the American Quarter Horse first has led the AQHA Executive Committee to make changes in AQHA rules as far as equipment use at all AQHA-approved shows and approve a structure of fines and penalties that will be assessed to violators of these rules.
All of these changes are based on recommendations from the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, which was appointed earlier this year by the Executive Committee to ensure the welfare of the American Quarter Horse. The Executive Committee also approved the Animal Welfare Commission’s definition of abuse: Any excessive and/or repetitive action to cause obvious distress or discomfort to a horse.
By November 2012 and to coincide with the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show, new equipment policies will be in place. The policies are published on AQHA's website, and exhibitors, owners and trainers have until November 1 to ask questions and become familiar with the policies.
Beginning with the 2012 AQHA World Championship Show in November, the following training equipment, in addition to that listed in the AQHA rulebook, will not be allowed at any AQHA shows:
1. Prohibited training equipment at all AQHA shows include riding in a curb bit without a curb strap, wire or solid metal curb straps no matter how padded; wire cavessons; wire or cable tie-downs; bumper bits; metal bosals, no matter how padded; chambons; headstalls made of metal (even if encased in a protective material); twisted rawhide; or rope (3/8-inch rope may be used with a slip (gag) bit with a smooth mouth piece only); running martingales with curb bits; or draw reins attached between or around the front legs.
2. No one is allowed to ride a horse with a curb bit without a properly adjusted, approved curb strap or curb chain.
3. A running martingale may be used with a snaffle bit only.
4. Draw reins may be used on the show grounds as a training device so long as they are attached no lower than the elbow of the horse.
“The greatest danger to our industry is the inhumane treatment of our horses during their training and the resulting appearance in the show ring,” said Jim Heird, executive professor and coordinator of the equine sciences initiative at Texas A&M University, and chairman of the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission.
That means training practices that cross the line, misuse of equipment, regardless of how humane one wants to claim it might be, and things like this have to become a thing of our past, said Tom Persechino, AQHA executive director of competition and breed integrity.
“While we may disagree on particular points or pieces of equipment, there is common ground between trainers and where AQHA is headed,” he added. “The vast majority of trainers and exhibitors are good people who have the best interest of the horse in mind.
“Regardless of the number of people who are using equipment improperly or harshly, the use of all equipment needs to be addressed and horsemen and -women need to understand that it only takes one person to create a negative perception of our industry,” he said. “We are living in a very different time where social media, technology and people’s unfamiliarity with the horse industry constantly puts us in a defensive mode. It’s never been a goal to punish but to bring about change and protect our horse and our industry before someone else decides what is right and what isn’t.”
Persechino suggested that if anyone has any of this equipment in their trailer tackroom, “we’re suggesting that you take it out now and don’t even bring it to the show – it is not allowed on the show grounds. Again, this is about protecting the horse.”
And the fines and penalties have been established to deter people who might even think about abusing a horse or using illicit drugs, he added.
“The fines and penalties chart further illustrates the consequences of breaking the rules,” Persechino said.
The AQHA Animal Welfare Commission also recommended – and the Executive Committee approved – the formation of an AQHA Grievance Committee that will consider fines and/or penalties to include suspension from competition or even suspension from AQHA as meaningful deterrents. The grievance committee will also investigate other forms of penalties and educate and hold owners to a higher level of accountability.
I show pleasure and halter and there are very few people who use these certian training ads abusively, but for the most part I dont see a lot of it being overly done. But I have seen some running people and ropers using wires, wicked bits and tie downs while acutally showing.. so maybe should stop picking so much on the WP riders, and look at some other classes!
It will take the judges not rewarding them, to keep the trainers from properly terrorising their horses. The Saddlebred industry has banned soring for years and it still goes on. Come on AQHA, we can do better for our horses.
I agree with so many. If the judges didn't reward the unnatural movement, the trainers would stop forcing their horses to look the way they do. Come on AQHA, change what is rewarded. Horses need to look more natural in their movements.
All Trainers train to accomodate the judges. If you have a judge that places the horses with their nose on the ground and Crabbing sideways with no forward movement Fine the judge then take his/her card. If you continue to place horses with no natural forward movement trainers and owners will find other ways to achieve what wins. It all starts with the judges, pull their cards.
Nice to see these equipment rules written down and the penalities for those that break them. AQHA has a good rule book. Only problem is the rules are not followed or enforced. Read the rule book about how a western pleasure horse should move, go to a show and what do you see? Every so often you may witness a horse that does lope! We have a steward program...it needs to be used more frequently! Judges are trainers...not a good idea. At dog shows it is NOT that way!
A true horse person will treat a horse with repect. We need to find the right job for each horse as they are individuals.
Not long ago, our rescue group was invited to set up a booth at an AQHA show and I was appalled at what I witnessed that day. Those poor horses were being asked to move so slow, it appeared that were getting nowhere. I shudder to think what kind of training they endured to make them move so unnaturally. "Trainers" were in the practice ring with their horses heads cranked down and gouging them with spurs like out of a bull riding event. The horses looked stressed and unhappy. We shut our booth down early. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. It's very sad that some people who are supposed to have horse knowledge don't have a clue how to treat a horse humanely. Thank you AQHA for finally starting to put the horse first. Now if we could get you to stop promoting overbreeding which keeps kill buyers in business!
I show a paint and ya he doesn't look like he's limping around and hedoesnt hold his head to the floor. I never make him set his head lower than level and most of the time it stays above that anyway. I may not get firsts just like those horses dragging themselves around do. I dont care. My horse can get up and haul butt if i ask him in a second like he was ment to! I dont get why the fastest horse for a quarter of a mile is the slowest horse in the show ring!!
Ok, so this is what happens when a cetain professional AQHA trainer of so called "fame" finally gets caught with her panties down in abuse?.....Quick... let's release some BS equipment rules....Yep.. that way the animals rights people will think we care....Come on people get real!.... AQHA, if you really wanted to stop abuse you could have a video camera system set up in the warm up pens...yadda yadda....Oh, wait we could pay the camera guy off too..poor horses suffer do to an organization that gets donations from crimminals of all sorts....lets get together and form our own National Quarter Horse ammy club in order to join you must pass a physc test.......ha
In other sports when you break a major rule, ie.. drug use, you are banned for life... in our industry, while there are penalties for breaking the rules... it seems as though there needs to be harsher penalties for major rules.. any action that causes harm or abuse, or has drugs involved, should result in a life time ban.