Media Releases

AQHA Animal Welfare Commission

Recognizing that animal welfare is the single-most important issue facing the equine industry today, the American Quarter Horse Association Executive Committee has appointed the 12-member AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, which met February 6-8, 2012 in Dallas.

The Animal Welfare Commission's mission is to provide a framework for its members to 1) identify issues negatively affecting the welfare of the American Quarter Horse, 2) discuss issues, and 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, will share discussion, action items and recommendations with alliance partners.

Jim Heird, executive professor and coordinator of the equine sciences initiative at Texas A&M University, is the chairman of the commission.

This commission has the opportunity to move forward with what we feel we need to do, Heird said. We have made some significant progress in the past, but we need to do more. The public and our membership demands it. Our horses deserve it.

The commission reviewed what AQHA has done with regard to animal welfare.

We have the best education system for our judges, said George Phillips, AQHA Executive Committee member and commission member. We started the AQHA Stewards program. While the program represents steps forward as we move into the third year of having stewards, we need to make adjustments and improve it to do more in the name of animal welfare. On the racing side, AQHA has been involved with better regulation of medication and drug use in racing American Quarter Horses.

Commission members then laid out what they consider the big issues in the American Quarter Horse industry with regard to animal welfare. Some of those include penalties, the AQHA Steward program, equipment, communication and education, treatment of the animal, security, judges, and medication and drugs.

The commission will present its actions and ideas for improvement to the AQHA Show and Professional Horsemen Committee at the 2012 AQHA Convention in March in Las Vegas. Also at the convention, AQHA Executive Vice President Don Treadway Jr. will present a report on the commissions activity to the directors during the summit on Friday, March 9, and to the general membership on Saturday, March 10.

The commission is about protecting the industry, our livelihood and, most importantly, the horse, Heird said.

Commission members are Sandy Arledge, Dr. Glenn Blodgett, Kevin Dukes, Dr. Eleanor Green, Carol Harris, Paul Jones, Dr. Tom Lenz, Clark Parker, Sam Rose and Sandy Vaughn.