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Let’s Discuss: Tools of the trade

The hot-potato topic in the Quarter Horse world right now involves a proposed rule change that would allow only arena-legal equipment to be used on show grounds. Maegan Gossett wants to know: What do you think?

From Maegan:

Proposed changes mean only arena-legal equipment can be used on AQHA showgrounds

The recently formed Animal Welfare Commission (AWC) in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has proposed a new rule that will allow only arena-legal equipment to be used on the show grounds. This means that training aids like martingales, draw reins, certain bits, et cetera cannot be used in warm-up, practice, or lunging. This controversial proposal has trainers, owners and competitors stirred up on both sides of the fence.

In recent years, AQHA has been passing new regulations to ensure the safety of show horses, like the Steward Program. This program places stewards at shows who address abuse and illegal use of equipment on a case by case basis. However, the new proposed equipment rule has some trainers thinking the regulations have gone too far and could lead to a snowball effect of banning all types of equipment.

This topic is so controversial because it significantly impacts how these horses are prepared for the show pen. When trainers bring young horses to shows, they often use certain training aids in order to navigate the crowded and scary warm-up pens. If this law was passed, it could mean unsafe conditions for riders who are exposed to or riding these young horses. In addition, novice riders use these types of equipment to build up their confidence before entering the show pen.

AQHA and the AWC are working to be more proactive in the protection against inhumane treatment of quarter horses as the association often receives pressure from outside organizations about the treatment of show horses. It should be noted that any recommendations by the AWC go straight to vote by the Executive Committee rather than the normal procedure of receiving committee recommendation first. The AWC submitted two rule changes to the Show and Professional Horsemen Committee that will be voted on at the AQHA Convention in March. The proposed changes can be seen below:

Agenda item #4 – Add new rule – A horse may not be ridden, driven, or led, nor exercised anywhere on the show grounds with prohibited equipment. The use of prohibited equipment shall disqualify the horse from that show and may result in disciplinary action taken against the rider, handler, agent or owner.

1.) For lungeing a horse a lunge-line and a long whip is allowed.

2.) Senior horses can be exercised with equipment allowed for junior horses

Agenda item #8–Add to Western Equipment rule 443–Ban the use of draw reins used with a curb bit while on the grounds at any AQHA event.

Read more about the proposed rule on the AQHA site here.

Is it the equipment that is the problem or the people that use it? Should everyone be “punished” because of a select few who use the equipment inappropriately? Or are these kinds of regulations needed in order to nullify the possibility of inhumane treatment completely? What do you think?

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