American Quarter Horse Association committed to integrity and welfare of horse industry |

American Quarter Horse Association committed to integrity and welfare of horse industry

Since the initial medications forum meeting in 2010, there have been tremendous changes within the industry, with more on the way, says AQHA. Courtesy photo

In recent years, the American Quarter Horse Association has strengthened its commitment to safeguarding the integrity and welfare of American Quarter Horses, as well as the integrity and welfare of the entire horse industry.

In racing, this effort has included industry initiatives, such as supporting racing-centered equine research to increase knowledge and promote safety, but its major focus has been on addressing the use of illegal medications in the industry.

Since the initial medications forum meeting in 2010, there have been tremendous changes within the industry, with more on the way.

AQHA continues its involvement with the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium and supports the national movement through Racing Commissioners International for uniform medication rules. In 2011, AQHA offered an official position statement on the use of the medication Clenbuterol in racing American Quarter Horses. As a result, several states adopted or modified their rules to follow these regulations.

Racetracks have also increased security around major race days. As an example, Ruidoso Downs hired an elite security team through the Organization of Racing Investigators to keep an eye on the finalists of its All American Futurity and Derby races. Members of this team were also on hand for the Bank of America Challenge Championships at Los Alamitos.

Another major AQHA push was to implement the Racing Equine Health, Welfare, Integrity and Research Subcommittee, which keeps a close eye on topics related to the health and welfare of the equine athlete.

AQHA rule RAC311.3 in the Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations states “In addition to affording reciprocity to a racing authority, AQHA reserves the right to enhance the disciplinary action imposed against the person in question by imposing additional fines, suspending AQHA membership privileges and suspending participation privileges (both individual and horse) in AQHA-approved/recognized events. Should AQHA exercise such right to enhance a penalty, the disciplined individual may request a hearing before an AQHA hearing committee for the sole purpose of contesting whether the penalty originally imposed should be enhanced. The finding of a violation by a racing authority is not subject to review at such hearing and will be considered final by AQHA.”

“The EqHWIR will monitor each situation and work with state racing jurisdictions involving medications, abuse and other issues concerning American Quarter Horses,” the EqHWIR said in a statement “and, at the appropriate time, recommend penalties to the AQHA Executive Committee against the offender(s).”

AQHA has begun sanctioning trainers who have received medication violation penalties administered by racing jurisdictions. These violations are related to major Class 1 and Class 2 medication violations. AQHA’s actions stem from these penalties issued by the racing jurisdictions. The suspensions issued by AQHA are pending final outcome of their cases. There are currently 19 trainers suspended by AQHA for Class 1 or Class 2 violations.

The list of trainers who have been sanctioned can be found on AQHA’s Racing Welfare and Medication page.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, AQHA implemented the Multiple Medication Violations System. This system sets forth penalties for trainers, owners and horses subject of positive drug tests, and, in particular, is designed to assess penalties against trainers, owners and horses subject of multiple positive drug tests. This system is for AQHA’s use only and is not intended to be a substitute for the current penalty system used by racing jurisdictions. It is based on the Racing Commissioners International’s multiple medication violations point system. The system rates points associated with various drug infractions and, subsequently, the penalties to be associated with them. The harshest penalties possible (for multiple major violations) include the indefinite suspension of membership (for a human) or registration (for a horse).

In addition, a link to an easily searchable database of medication violations will be available at the AQHA Racing website on the Racing Welfare and Medication page. These rulings can also be accessed at, which is searchable by trainer, horse, jurisdiction and breed.

Sale companies will be encouraged to publish points in the catalog or past performance supplements for horses entered in the sale and in race training or of racing age.

A medication forum discussing MMVS will take place at 8 a.m. on January 24 at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City. The forum is open to the public.

Full details of the MMVS are available on the Racing Welfare and Medication page.