The American Quarter Horse Association Executive Committee approved the use of a safety lead, which is defined as a leather/leather-like covered chain, in addition to the currently approved lip cord, in designated halter classes beginning January 1, 2020.
The current rule, which only allows lip cords in halter classes for stallions age 1 and older, is still in effect through December 31, 2019. Beginning January 1, 2020, both safety leads and lip cords may be used in designated halter classes.
The revised rule, effective January 1, 2020, states:
SHW 355. Halter Equipment
SHW355.1 For the purposes of this rule, the term “halter equipment” shall include the use of a safety lead or lip cord in halter classes.
SHW355.1.1. Safety lead is defined as a soft/flexible nonabrasive protective leather/leather-like covered chain with links having a gauge of at least 4.0 mm that has an unsecured keeper with at least 3/4 inches of the lead outside of the halter before attachment of keeper.
SHW355.1.2 Lip cord is defined as a round smooth soft/flexible nonabrasive cotton polyblend cord with a dense core no smaller than 3/8 inches that has an unsecured keeper with at least 3/4 inches of the lead outside of the halter before attachment of keeper.
SHW355.1.3 The lip cord described above may not contain internal or external metal.
SHW355.1.4 The safety lead described above cannot be rawhide, suede or roughout, cannot contain external metal and all seams must be turned inside. Further, the protective leather/leather-like covering shall extend up the side of the lead to the base of the snap that attaches to the side of the halter and be clearly visible on the side of the keeper.
SHW355.1.5 Other than described above, no additional substances or materials may be added to a safety lead or lip cord.
SHW355.1.6 The safety lead or lip cord may only be applied over gum and not through mouth.
SHW355.2. Stallions 1 year of age and older may be shown with a safety lead or lip cord defined above in open and amateur divisions; mares and geldings 1 year of age and older may be shown with a safety lead or lip cord defined above in open, amateur and youth divisions; lip chains of any other type are prohibited; all other leads that do not meet the definition of an allowed safety lead or lip cord are prohibited.
355.3. The following horses may not be allowed to be shown with a safety lead or lip cord:
355.3.2. any horse shown in a performance halter class; and
355.3.3. any horse shown in a ranch horse conformation class.
SHW355.4. Applying excessive pressure on or excessive jerking of an allowed safety lead or lip cord is prohibited. Safety leads and lip cords and their application to the gum area will be inspected during the judging process. Excessive wear, rough or sharp edges around the protective cover of the safety lead or lip cord is prohibited; any raw area or abrasions of the gum area is grounds for disqualification.
Safety lead or lip cord manufacturers must meet the specifications in AQHA SHW355.1, to be acceptable in the halter classes listed above in SHW355.2. Photos of the approved safety lead and lip cord will be available soon at www.aqha.com.
The Association and AQHA Executive Committee will continue to evaluate and monitor the appropriate use of the safety leads and lip cords to ensure their use and the rule change remain a positive change for the horses and exhibitors.
To view the current AQHA official Handbook of Rules and Regulations, visit www.aqha.com/rulebook.
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