November 12, 2009 -- A national Welfare Code of Practice has been endorsed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), the American Quarter Horse Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the U.S. Equestrian Federation and the U.S. Trotting Association. The Welfare Code of Practice, drafted by the American Horse Council (AHC), outlines in generic terms what it means for an organization to be committed to the responsible breeding, training, care, use, enjoyment, transport and retirement of horses.
"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," said AHC President Jay Hickey. "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."
Many associations have undertaken studies, reviews and initiatives that indicate their commitment to the welfare of their horses. Representatives from numerous national organizations provided an update on their welfare activities at the AHC's National Issues Forum last summer. That forum is available for on-demand viewing on www.horsetv.com. It is important to share these efforts with the horse community so everyone can educate themselves on the best welfare practices throughout the sport. This generic code is simply a continuation of that effort.
The AHC's Welfare Code of Practice is not intended to replace or pre-empt those activities or any rules and regulations specific to a segment of the industry. Rather it is hoped that the endorsement of a broad, more generic Welfare Code of Practice by as many organizations as possible will be another indication to the public, the media, federal and state officials and the horse community that the horse industry "Puts the Horse First."
"We fully support the AHC Welfare Code of Practice and encourage everyone associated with the horse to abide by its principles," said Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. "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. It is equally important that the industry communicate with one voice on this important issue and the AHC is the right vehicle for doing so."
"This Code of Practice stands to unite the equestrian community in it's commitment to protect, honor, and ensure the safety and well-being of the horse which is the core of our sport," noted John Long, CEO, U.S. Equestrian Federation, the national governing body of equestrian sport.
The AHC Welfare Code of Practice will also provide a guide for equine organizations that are formalizing a welfare philosophy and policy for their respective organizations. "The American Horse Council Welfare Code of Practice provides a standard for the horse industry and equine organizations to evaluate their individual welfare policies and initiatives. It clearly states the principles necessary to achieve a level of stewardship for the horse that always puts the welfare of the horse first," said Dr. Jerry Black, past-president of the AAEP and chair of the AHC's Animal Welfare Committee.
"I would strongly encourage all equine-related organizations to join us in signing the code of practice demonstrating their commitment to continuously ensuring the safety and welfare of our horses," said Don Treadway, Executive Vice President, American Quarter Horse Association. "By agreeing to a code of practice, we send a clear message to the public that we are committed to ensuring our horses are treated with compassion, dignity and respect."
"We hope that as the Code is reviewed more organizations will endorse it. Our goal is to have as many associations as possible sign on," said Hickey.
WELFARE CODE OF PRACTICE - AMERICAN HORSE COUNCIL
American society has grown away from its agrarian roots of only a few generations ago. The horse, which was once a staple of American agriculture and general transportation, is now used primarily for breeding, competition, sport, recreation and entertainment, although there are still many horses used for work on farms and ranches, and in urban areas and exhibitions.
The horse industry is committed to the safety, health, care and welfare of all horses and to always "Put the Horse First."
We address equine welfare and responsible care (1) by supporting a uniform Code of Practice regarding the responsible breeding, training, competing, care, use, enjoyment, health, transportation, and retirement of horses; and (2) by initiating communication with the public, the media, federal and state officials and within the horse community regarding these issues.