the National Football League or the Olympics, the American Quarter
Horse Association ensures the safety of the American Quarter Horse
and a level playing field by testing for banned substances at AQHA
shows. Since 1973, AQHA has been a leader in the equine industry
in drug testing thousands of horses at hundreds of shows, including
the AQHA, AQHYA and Bayer Select World Championship shows.
Now, it’s going to get even tougher for those who choose
to use performance-enhancing drugs or exceed the limits of approved
medications. Based on a recommendation
from a drugs and medications task force, AQHA will conduct random drug testing
at approximately 300 approved shows a year, starting in 2005.
“The task force, which included members from the show and contest, judges
and Professional Horsemen’s committees, met to discuss the increased costs
of drug testing and the decreasing number of states voluntarily testing at their
shows,” said Gary Griffith, AQHA executive director of registration. “Their
recommendations, which were approved by the Executive Committee, should significantly
increase our ability to protect the American Quarter Horse and ensure a fair
and competitive show environment.”
Since 1980, AQHA has spent more than $1.7 million on drug testing
at shows. In addition, many of the AQHA Affiliates in each state
voluntarily conducted drug testing. Unfortunately, increasing
testing costs had decreased the number of affiliates choosing
to test from a maximum of 18 to just six in 2004.
To fund the increased testing, the task force recommended, and the Executive
Committee approved, that show management collect a $3 per horse fee at every
show within the United States, excluding California, where the state government
already charges a $5 per horse fee to conduct in-state testing. In addition,
AQHA will add more than $250,000 to the program, making a total drug-testing
budget of almost $1 million per year.
The fee will be collected on a per-show basis, so the fee will be doubled for
a split-combined or double-judged show, where competitors receive two sets
The increase in testing requires additional funding,” said AQHA Director
of Shows Charlie Hemphill. “The task force agreed that a per-horse fee
would be the most equitable for all competitors. The task force members didn’t
want to discourage our all-around competitors by establishing a per entry fee.”
The task force worked to set the lowest possible fee to limit costs to exhibitors.
Hemphill pointed to California’s state-mandated $5 per horse as one example
of a higher fee. The United States Equestrian Federation charges $7 per horse
per show to fund its drug-testing program.
The fee will not be collected outside of the United States because of the difficulty
in transporting biological materials (blood and urine samples) across international
borders to test for banned substances. However, many Canadian shows are tested
by Canadian laboratories, which share their results with AQHA. California’s
state government also sends results to AQHA headquarters.
The recommendations of the drug and medications task force underpin
the integrity of our shows and follow the horse-welfare mission
established by the members of AQHA,” Hemphill said. “The
additional funding will help assure that AQHA’s rules of
competition are followed in each state.”
DRUG TESTING PROGRAM
Increase testing to approximately 300 shows.
$3 per-horse, per-show fee will fund additional testing.
AQHA will add more than $250,000 to drug-testing budget.
Total drug-testing budget should approach $1 million for 2005.
For more information on AQHA therapeutic medication rules and for
AQHA’s policy statement on the welfare of the American
Quarter Horse, refer to the 2005 AQHA Handbook of Rules and Regulations.
To receive a copy of the handbook, call (806) 376-4811.