VIO200 - 206. Inhumane Treatment


VIO200. INHUMANE TREATMENT. No person shall treat any horse in an inhumane manner. This prohibition against inhumane treatment applies to AQHA members and nonmembers. Inhumane treatment shall include, but not be limited to, the prohibited conduct specified below. Inhumane treatment to horses other than American Quarter Horses and other animals used in competition is included in this prohibition as it indicates a general course of dealing with horses which is unacceptable to AQHA.

  • VIO200.1 For purposes of this rule, a person responsible for the care of a horse is also responsible for and may be disciplined for the inhumane conduct of their trainers, agents, representatives and employees. For violation of this rule, an individual may be disciplined, suspended, fined, denied AQHA privileges, disqualified, expelled from show grounds and/or expelled from AQHA.

VIO201. Inhumane treatment of any horse or any other animal on show grounds is strictly prohibited. Treatment of any horse will be considered inhumane if a person, educated or experienced in accepted equine training techniques, would perceive the conduct of an individual to be inhumane.
VIO202. For purposes of this rule, a fines and penalty system has been established based on the severity of the offense. All offenses per VIO204 below will be assigned a minimum level of offense (level 1 = mild; level 2= moderate; level 3 = severe). Depending on the facts of a situation, the level of offense may be increased.
VIO203. Warning or Show Ground Removal cards will be issued based on the frequency and level of offense.
VIO204. Inhumane treatment includes, but is not limited to:

  • VIO204.1 placing an object in a horse’s mouth so as to cause undue discomfort or distress (minimum level 2);
  • VIO204.2 leaving a bit in a horse’s mouth for extended periods of time so as to cause undue discomfort or distress (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.3 tying a horse’s head up (above withers), back or around in a stall or anywhere at an AQHA event in a manner as to cause undue discomfort or distress (minimum level 2);
    • VIO204.3.1 Tying a horse in a stall without access to food or water for an extended period of time. (minimum level 1)
  • VIO204.4 lounging or riding a horse in a manner as to cause undue discomfort or distress to the horse (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.5 tying or fastening any foreign object onto a horse, halter, bridle and/or saddle in order to de-sensitize the horse (minimum level 2);
  • VIO204.6 use of training techniques or methods such as poling or striking a horse’s legs with objects (minimum level 2);
  • VIO204.7 excessive spurring or whipping (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.8 excessive jerking of reins (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.9 excessive fencing (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.10 excessive spinning (defined as no more than eight (8) consecutive turns in either direction) (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.11 schooling over ramped oxers in reverse order (i.e., from highest to lowest instead of lowest to highest) (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.12 schooling using rails higher than four (4) feet (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.13 use of prohibited equipment, including, but not limited to: saw tooth bits; hock hobbles; tack collars; curb strap with tack/rivets or tack hackamores; whips used for showmanship; war bridles or like devices; riding in a curb bit without a curb strap; wire or solid metal curb straps no matter how padded; wire cavesson; wire or cable tie-downs; bumper bits; metal bosals (no matter how padded); metal loungeing hackamores; chambons; headstalls made of metal (no matter how wrapped or padded), twisted rawhide, or rope may not be used on a horse’s head (3/8 inch rope may be used with a slip/gag bit or a bonnet); running martingales with curb bits without rein stops; excessively tight cavessons; draw reins attached between or around the front legs; side reins (direct rein from bit to cinch or surcingle), will not be allowed at AQHA-approved events (minimum level 2);
  • VIO204.14 use of any item or appliance that restricts movement or circulation of the horse’s tail (minimum level 3);
  • VIO204.15 exhibiting a horse which appears to be sullen, dull, lethargic, emaciated, drawn or overly tired (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.16 intentional or negligent treatment which results in any bleeding – intentional (minimum level 3); unintentional (minimum level 1);
  • VIO204.17 applying excessive pressure on or excessively jerking of a halter lead shank or an allowed lip chain (minimum level 2);
  • VIO204.18 any other treatment or conduct deemed by a show official to be inhumane or abusive (minimum level 1).

VIO205. AQHA may accept (1) an individual’s conviction, no contest plea, or deferred adjudication or (2) judicial confiscation of a horse under state, federal, provincial or international law, for an offense of cruelty to or inhumane treatment of a horse, whether or not an American Quarter Horse is involved, as a presumptive violation of this rule, the effect of which is to automatically suspend the individual from AQHA membership privileges, or deny such privileges, for a period of no less than two (2) years after AQHA receives notice of the conviction, no contest plea, deferred adjudication or judicial confiscation. After the expiration of the two-year suspension, the individual may apply for reinstatement.

VIO206. AQHA may accept suspension rulings pertaining to cruel or inhumane treatment of horses from other recognized equine related associations and state racing commissions, the effect of which is to automatically suspend the individual from AQHA membership privileges, or deny such privileges, for a length of time equal to the suspension for which reciprocity is given.