AQHA Executive Committee Updates Rules Relating to Animal Welfare

belly-bandEquine belly bands are prohibited at AQHA events as of June 1.The health and wellbeing of the American Quarter Horse is the American Quarter Horse Association’s (AQHA) utmost concern. In accordance with the AQHA’s mission statement, the American Quarter Horse shall be treated humanely, with dignity, respect and compassion at all times. It is the goal of the AQHA to educate members and non-members on this issue.

The AQHA executive committee continued to make strides for the benefit of the American Quarter Horse at its April meeting in Amarillo, Texas. The committee’s actions exemplify the association taking a stand on animal welfare for the protection of the horse and for the future of the breed. These welfare topics were discussed and reviewed by AQHA members and the AQHA animal welfare commission, show committee, show council, racing committee and racing council. The recommendations from each of these bodies were sent on to the executive committee for its review and final decision.

“Ensuring the humane treatment of the American Quarter Horse remains a priority for the 2016-17 AQHA executive committee,” said Craig Huffhines, AQHA executive vice president. “It is the responsibility of the association to educate members and non-members on this issue while continuing to review and improve current AQHA rules regarding animal welfare to assure that we continue to put our horse first.”

Actions that will take place in 2016 based on the executive committee’s decisions include:

  • The AQHA will develop a resource document outlining the steps members can take when they call AQHA with an animal abuse complaint.
  • The AQHA will work collaboratively with the American Association of Equine Practitioners, United States Equestrian Federation and American Horse Council to develop biosecurity isolation protocol guidelines to include vaccination guidelines that could be implemented at AQHA-approved shows.
  • The AQHA will amend its current rule that prohibits the use of dye or other substances to alter or hide natural markings to also include the prohibition of dye to hide abuse.
  • The AQHA will prohibit the use of belly bands at AQHA events starting June 1, 2016.

Read the animal welfare commission recommendations with the executive committee’s action at

In addition to these actions, the AQHA will continue to periodically publish news releases on its website with the names of people who have broken AQHA rules pertaining to inhumane treatment and unsportsmanlike conduct, as well as recommendations approved by the executive committee.  

For more information on animal welfare and unsportsmanlike conduct, visit Racing violations and suspensions can be found at