AQHA Executive Committee Approves Animal Welfare Rules

AQHA Executive Committee Approves Animal Welfare Rules

The AQHA Executive Committee approved rule-change recommendations from the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission.

sorrel horse white blaze eye (Credit: Robert Howard)

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The AQHA Animal Welfare Commission met during the 2024 AQHA Convention in March in Las Vegas and made several rule-change recommendations to the AQHA Executive Committee. The Executive Committee met in April to review all rule-change recommendations that came out of Convention. Here are the recommendations/rule changes the Executive Committee approved to be implemented from the Animal Welfare Commission:

  1. Accept the Conformation Testing Task Force recommendations to implement a scoring system based on thermography, flexion and palpation of the neck to determine if a horse is Fit to Compete. Conformation testing at the Youth World and World Show will include (a more detailed press release on the scoring system and testing protocols is forthcoming) :

      • Fifteen finalists in Level 3 classes with preliminaries.
      • Randomly select 25% (minimum of 10) of the horses in Level 3 one-go and Level 2 classes for testing.
      • Testing must be done 24 hours to one hour before the scheduled start of the class, or the day before for an 8 a.m. final.
  2. Appoint a task force to develop microchipping, vaccination and biosecurity protocols to be implemented at AQHA world shows.

  3. Change, Alternative Number 1 (VIO405.12), the approved therapeutic dosage for dexamethasone from 2.0mg/100lbs to 1.0mg/100lbs administered IV, IM or orally up to 12 hours before competition. Eliminate Alternatives 2 and 3. Dexamethasone may be administered IV at 0.5mg/100lbs by a veterinarian for the treatment of acute hives up to six hours before competition with the submission of a medication report form. This change will become effective on September 1, 2024.

  4. Approve the emergency use of flunixin (Banamine) for colic or an ophthalmic emergency. Flunixin, in addition to one other substance listed in VIO405.1-VIO405.7 (NSAIDS) may be found in the same plasma and/or urine sample. The flunixin must be administered by a veterinarian, a medication report form must be submitted and the horse withheld from competition for 24 hours. This change will be implemented immediately.

  5. Make the submission of online medication report forms mandatory by January 1, 2026, unless the competition venue does not have Wi-Fi.

About the Animal Welfare Commission

The AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, which was created by the AQHA Executive Committee in 2012, reports directly to the Executive Committee, which evaluates all proposals in relation to the current state of the industry. The Animal Welfare Commission serves 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 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.) Stay current on all animal welfare issues and 3.) Recommend actions that will help 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 the Association’s alliance partners. AQHA's prohibition against inhumane treatment applies to AQHA members and nonmembers.

AQHA news and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more information visit or tune into our Podcast, “Let's Talk AQHA.”