The good and bad of the AQHA.

testAmerican Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is a nonprofit 501c(5) organization.  Their mission is as follows:

AQHA Mission Statement

  • To record and preserve the pedigree of the American Quarter Horse while maintaining the integrity of the breed and welfare of its horses.
  • To provide beneficial services for its members which enhance and encourage American Quarter Horse ownership and participation.
  • To develop diverse educational programs, material and curriculum that will position AQHA as the leading resource organization in the equine industry.
  • To generate growth of AQHA membership via the marketing, promotion, advertising and publicity of the American Quarter Horse.
  • To ensure the American Quarter Horse is treated humanely, with dignity, respect and compassion at all times.

That is the good news of the AQHA.  The bad news is they are a “Pro Slaughter.”  Former AQHA president, Peter J Cofrancesco III, described “AQHA supports humane processing at USDA regulated and inspected slaughter houses in the United States as an option for owners who might need to use this avenue for horses that might become unwanted or otherwise unusable.”

Here’s the thing…as a rescuer do we attack the AQHA as an organization because of their position on slaughter OR do we recognize them as a promoter of equestrian sports and a registration resource for Quarter Horse owners.  Their mission includes education programs, youth programs, and welfare programs.  Below is an example of the AQHA “Take Me Riding” initiative that provides games, videos and access local to riding programs.takemeriding

captureIf the AQHA is working to encourage new riders to enjoy horses, doesn’t that benefit all horses?  I support that part of the AQHA as that part encourages equestrians to ride which ties into the rescue equation:  the more riders equal more homes.  Should we agree to disagree?  Take the good and ignore the bad?

In reality the AQHA organization is not promoting owners to breed and over-breed their horses.  From reading their literature, I see the AQHA is giving owners a means to protect the integrity of the breed, maximize their equine assets and provide an outlet for horse owners to enjoy their horses through horse competitions, conferences and demonstrations.   I did not see the AQHA flag waving that says to their members “Go breed your horses and if you can’t sell them slaughter them”….  This may just be an unintended consequence of their mission because there are profits in Breeding,  Owning, Competing and Selling SOME American Quarter Horses.  It’s the OTHER (lesser valued) Quarter Horses that run the risk of falling into the slaughter pipeline.

full_circleThe AQHA did develop the “Full Circle Program” as an option for retiring performance horses.  Although I feel it is more positioned to help high value Quarter Horses than the low valued Quarter Horses that are more in danger of slaughter.  The AQHA has invested thousands in an online system that allows individuals to offer retirement homes to any horse.  It is under-marketed and under-utilized,  but clearly a good start, and clearly an attempt by the AQHA to address welfare more aggressively.

I know for many this is a heated topic.  SO I remind you that I am not defending the AQHA nor am I attacking the AQHA – just posing questions, and wondering whether we should attempt to influence their education and welfare programs.   We understand rescue and the economics of the horse world – perhaps there is some collaboration that could benefit horses?

The AQHA has 260,000+ members, close to a million social media followers and international support.  They are bigger, stronger and more influential than all of the rescue groups combined.  aqha

In 2017, we  celebrate the 10th anniversary of closing the slaughter plants in United States.  Since then over 1,000,000 horses have shipped across the border for slaughter.  There still is no plan in place to accommodate unwanted horses and the SAFE ACT has failed again.  I am ready to look outside the box for solutions…ARE YOU?

bookLearn more by reading “Lost Horses:  the Horse Lovers Guide to Making a Difference.”



This entry was posted in ERN Blog and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.