The AQHA Executive Committee recently approved several recommendations from the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission’s August meeting.
The approved recommendations include those regarding animal welfare grievance committee transparency, animal welfare rule clarifications, tracking information on animal welfare violations and racehorse injuries, animal welfare education for AQHYA members and AQHA Professional Horsemen, educational articles and material on responsible breeding practices and bisphosphonates, the development of an animal welfare page on the AQHA website, and the investigation into the development of an AQHA horse show integrity team.
The AQHA Executive Committee created the Animal Welfare Commission in 2012 to serve as AQHA’s primary body for rules, policies and procedures related to all areas of animal welfare. In addition, the commission oversees the educational processes associated with AQHA officials responsible for animal welfare. The commission reports directly to the Executive Committee, which evaluates all proposals in relation to the current state of the industry.
The commission’s mission is to provide a framework for its members to 1.) Identify issues to improve the welfare of the American Quarter Horse, 2.) Stay current on all animal welfare 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 following AWC recommendations were approved by the Executive Committee:
3. Require that all new AQHA Professional Horsemen go through a comprehensive animal welfare orientation that includes their role in advancing animal welfare. The AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Council will be charged to develop the program with assistance of AQHA staff. The materials developed can be made available to current Professional Horsemen.
4. Create a task force to modify the current AQHA Steward Report and Evaluation form in a way that collects all information and metrics in a format needed to better track the AQHA Stewards Program. Completion date: December 31, 2018.
5. Support the development and funding of an American Quarter Horse injury database to track catastrophic racing injuries.
6. Create an article to educate members on bisphosphonates, their use and the possible abuse of the medication. The article will be published via an AQHA Media property. This recommendation is based upon the apparently increased use of bisphosphonates and potential adverse side effects.
7. Finalize the edits to the AQHA publication “Considerations for a Responsible Breeder” to incorporate information on genetic diseases similar to what is done in ranch horse sale catalogues. Present final document at the March 2019 AWC meeting.
8. Investigate creating an AQHA Horse Show Integrity Team, modeled after the racing integrity team, to be deployed at AQHA world shows. Potential team members could include any or all of the following: (1) ring stewards, as they operate now with judges; (2) Gate stewards to conduct soundness checks and look for prohibited equipment; (3) animal welfare ambassadors to interact with participants and advance the animal welfare initiatives, while monitoring the barns and show grounds; and (4) animal welfare veterinarians to ensure the integrity of onsite veterinarians, horse welfare and biosecurity.
9. Incorporate more animal welfare education/programming into AQHA youth programs.
10. Appoint a youth leader to represent AQHYA on the Animal Welfare Commission.
11. Develop a robust animal welfare page with a prominent link on AQHA’s homepage.
12. Develop and deploy a system in which pertinent animal welfare information and press releases are developed and distributed in an ongoing manner. One example is a regular page in a prominent location in AQHA publications that includes the animal welfare part of the AQHA mission, the charge to/mission of the AWC, recent news pertaining to animal welfare, data on violations, penalties, and fines, and the list of violators. Social media, AQHA website, and other outlets should also be utilized.
13. Schedule an AQHA Animal Welfare Commission presentation during the AQHA Professional Horsemen’s Educational Seminar at the 2019 AQHA Convention.
To learn more about AQHA’s efforts to promote animal welfare, visit www.aqha.com/animalwelfare.
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