The American Horse Council has drafted the “Welfare Code of Practice” for horses and hopes the document picks up widespread support in the industry.
The code outlines responsible breeding, training, care, use, enjoyment, transport, and retirement of horses. It is meant to complement existing policies and programs and to send a message to the public and legislators, officials said.
Thus far, the code has been endorsed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Quarter Horse Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, United States Equestrian Federation, and United States Trotting Association, the AHC said.
“We hope that as many organizations as possible will endorse it to show that the industry as a whole is committed to the welfare and safety of the horse,” AHC president Jay Hickey said. “We know that the safety and welfare of our horses is very important to us. We hope that this code will be another indication to others that the horse community takes its responsibilities to our horses very seriously.”
Hickey said the Welfare Code of Practice is not intended to replace or pre-empt activities or rules and regulations specific to a segment of the industry. For instance, the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, which accredits racetracks, implemented a code dealing with racehorse retirement programs.
“We fully support the AHC Welfare Code of Practice and encourage everyone associated with the horse to abide by its principles,” NTRA president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop said. “It is important that the horse industry as a whole, regardless of breed or discipline, affirms its individual and collective commitment to horse welfare and safety.
The code can serve as a guide for equine organizations that are formalizing policy. Dr. Jerry Black, chairman of the AHC Animal Welfare Committee, said the code “states the principles necessary to achieve a level of stewardship for the horse that always puts the welfare of the horse first.”
WELFARE CODE PARAMETERS
Responsible breeding practices and training techniques
Education on equine welfare
Safe environments for equine competition
Collection of injury data
Continued evaluation of rules
Support for equine research programs
Transition to after-competition careers
Transparency in all activities
The complete code of standards can be found at the AHC Web site.