AQHA Approves Convention Recommendations

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) executive committee approved several recommendations from the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission at the 2017 AQHA Convention. The recommendations ranged from adding specific medications to the AQHA forbidden drugs or substances list to a recommendation to use all drug- and animal welfare-related fines to support the AQHA steward program.

The animal welfare recommendations approved by the executive committee include:

  1. Fines generated from drug and animal welfare violations will be placed in the animal welfare budget to support the steward program.
  2. AQHA should encourage show managers to establish an isolation protocol at AQHA shows using the industry-developed template to ensure horses on the grounds are protected, should there be a disease outbreak. In addition, show management should be encouraged to conduct practice runs or audits to ensure proper procedures are carried out.
  3. Develop a one-page educational flyer to educate exhibitors on the importance of vaccinating their horses for equine influenza virus and equine herpes virus prior to entering the AQHA show grounds.
  4. AQHA staff should continue work on an educational flyer regarding reporting animal abuse.
  5. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, AQHA Rule SHW325.1.2 will be reworded to read: “Lameness is obvious at a walk.”
  6. Form a joint task force made up of members from the Animal Welfare Commission, Professional Horsemen’s Council and the Show Format and Procedures Subcommittee to discuss options to increase AQHA steward presence at shows.
  7. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, a no-jerk-down rule for tie-down roping will be implemented. The rule will read: “In the tie-down roping class, an exhibitor will receive a no score for that run if they bring the animal over backwards with the animal landing on its back or head with all four feet in the air.”
  8. Effective immediately, the “use of any drug, chemical, foreign substance, surgical procedure or trauma that would alter a horse’s normal tail function” be added to the prohibited inhumane practices set forth in AQHA Rule VIO204.
  9. Form a task force to review AQHA’s definition of normal tail function.
  10. Effective immediately, AQHA stewards can show at AQHA events that they are not assigned to steward.
  11. Effective immediately, allow hydroxyzine to be submitted on a medication report form, as long as all requirements of AQHA Rule VIO403 are met.
  12. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, and with respect to the medication rules that govern show horses, furosemide (Lasix) will be removed from the list of conditionally permitted therapeutic medications and added to the list of forbidden drugs or substances in AQHA Rule VIO401.
  13. Develop and publish a list of medications that can be reported on a medication report form, as long as all requirements of AQHA Rule VIO403 are met. Develop and publish a list of forbidden substances.
  14. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, add hair testing to AQHA Rules VIO302 and SHW120.1.

The AQHA executive committee also met April 24-26 in Amarillo, Texas, to review the standing committee recommendations approved at the Convention by the AQHA board of directors, with the exception of those related to bylaw changes and rules of registration, for which final approval lies with the board of directors.

AQHA Equine Research Committee

The executive committee approved the American Quarter Horse Foundation funding of $252,735 in research projects. The equine research committee also discussed various methods to improve the distribution of research results to the membership to promote better understanding of important issues such as animal welfare, selective breeding practices and overall horse health.

AQHA International Committee

The executive committee approved: an international educational exchange task force to examine and make recommendations regarding the international horsemanship seminar programs and other international educational program opportunities; an international championship event task force to examine the existing European and Latin American championship events, and make recommendations for the structure of future international championship events; and an international affiliate task force to examine and make recommendations regarding the structure and function of international affiliates and their relationship to AQHA. 

AQHA Judges Committee

The executive committee approved an amendment to rule SHW911.6 to read as follows: At all shows where there is an official videographer, judges will be allowed to review “all major and/or severe penalties of two points or more, excluding marker penalties in the reining and the reined work portion of working cow horse as long as one (1) judge has called a penalty.

The executive committee also approved the creation of a judges task force to create guidelines for self-monitoring among judges.

AQHA Marketing and Membership Services Committee

The executive committee approved the creation of subcommittees of the marketing and membership committee with specific objectives and measurable goals. The committee will be broken into subcommittees to work throughout the year and report back at the March Convention meetings.

The committee also discussed a variety of other marketing and membership initiatives that included an update from the young adults task force regarding its research on acquiring and retaining more members in the 19-34 age range; better ways to help promote the American Horse Council’s Time to Ride initiative to AQHA affiliates and Professional Horsemen; the potential to use microchips as a tool to drive AQHA membership and improve recordkeeping on horses in speed events and roping; a partnership with the Arabian Horse Association to assist in the creation and promotion of a literacy program tied to horses; a need to better involve non-horse people in events like the AQHA World shows via the creation of a hands-on horse experience, tours of the grounds, meeting with a trainer, etc.; and the consideration of a free equipment program, like those offered for other sports, where we could engage corporate partners and donors to provide things like helmets and boots to horse-interested youth.

AQHA Public Policy Committee

The executive committee approved supporting language for the accelerated depreciation of racehorses in the upcoming tax reform legislation; the Horse Protection Act Amendment draft final rule; the American Horse Council’s request that USDA-APHIS publishes a rule for public comment on enhanced equine infectious anemia testing and reporting; and AHC’s efforts for continued development and collaboration between state, federal and industry representatives in implementing the National Equine Health Plan.

The executive committee also approved the appointment of a task force to explore an AQHA public policy or congressional fellowship/internship program.

AQHA Ranching Committee

The executive committee approved recommendations to modify and clarify several rules related to Versatility Ranch Horse, in addition to adding Level 1 Open Ranch Riding as an approved AQHA class, effective immediately, and ranch trail to be offered at AQHA-approved shows as part of a slate of classes in 2019.

The Ranching Heritage Breeder subcommittee revised the application for the Ranching Heritage Breeder program and the criteria of the Ranching Heritage Breeder of the Year application. In cooperation with Zoetis, the Ranching Heritage subcommittee will develop a ranch vaccination program for cattle and horses for Ranching Heritage Breeders.

AQHA Show Committee

The executive committee approved modifications to several show rules. The executive committee also approved the formation of the Leveling review, individual rail and stewards expansion task forces.

AQHA Studbook and Registration Committee

Modifications to three registration-related items were approved by AQHA members and the AQHA board of directors at the Convention. Read more about the changes at

AQHA Youth Activities Committee

The executive committee approved to accept changes to the American Quarter Horse Youth Association (AQHYA) officer and director application process; to remove the requirement that regional director candidates must be, or have been, an officer in his or her state affiliate; and to standardize the time allotment for both national officer and regional director speeches to be three minutes in length, in addition to judging the national officer and regional director speeches separately.

The executive committee also approved to allow nominations from the floor in the event of vacant regional director positions following regional elections. The youth scholarships task force was approved to explore additional opportunities for providing scholarships to youth members. Also approved by the executive committee was the pursuit of creating a horsemanship outreach program, and exploring the creation of a youth advisory board to mentor young leaders, develop youth alumni events and outreach to collegiate equine organizations.

For more information on the AQHA Convention and full committee reports, visit