American Quarter Horse Association Implements New Mandatory Necropsy Rule For Sanctioned Shows - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

American Quarter Horse Association Implements New Mandatory Necropsy Rule For Sanctioned Shows

The American Quarter Horse Association at the recommendation of the AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, is implementing a new mandatory necropsy rule regarding all on-site equine fatalities at any AQHA-approved event.

The new rule, VIO208, will be added to the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations. For purposes of this rule, a “fatality” is defined as a death to any horse by any means including euthanasia at any time from when the horse arrives at the venue until the completion of the AQHA approved event or after the AQHA approved event where such injury or illness is related to the horse's presence at the AQHA approved event. This pertains to death on the grounds or while being transported to other facilities to seek care.

The trainer, owner or exhibitor as defined by AQHA rules, [see VIO250, Responsible Party], must notify the AQHA show steward or show manager as soon as possible but no later than one hour after such occurrence.

In most cases, a gross postmortem examination including histopathology must be performed for incidents involving euthanasia or fatality.  If a Responsible Party refuses the necropsy, they are subject to temporary suspension pursuant to new rule VIO207.  Rule VIO207 provides  that AQHA will immediately appoint a three-person panel from the Animal Welfare Grievance Committee for the purposes of reviewing the incident. In conjunction with such investigation, a Responsible Party hereby agrees to cooperate with AQHA by (1) answering truthfully and promptly any inquiries; (2) providing medical/treatment records and post death reports/results (e.g. necropsy report) if any; and (3) authorizing any third parties to answer AQHA inquires and provide the aforementioned records. Subject to the panel's review and recommendation, AQHA may temporarily suspend a Responsible Party pending AQHA's further investigation of the horse's death.

View further explanation and specifications of these rulings in the 2023 AQHA rulebook.

About the Animal Welfare Commission

The AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, which was created by the AQHA Executive Committee in 2012, reports directly to the Executive Committee, which evaluates all proposals in relation to the current state of the industry. The Animal Welfare Commission serves as AQHA's primary body for rules, policies and procedures related to all areas of animal welfare. In addition, the commission oversees the educational processes associated with AQHA officials responsible for animal welfare.

The Animal Welfare Commission's mission is to provide a framework for its members to 1.) Identify issues negatively affecting the welfare of the American Quarter Horse, 2.) Stay current on all animal welfare issues and 3.) Recommend actions that will help protect the American Quarter Horse from inhumane practices and AQHA and its members from the negative impacts associated with those practices. The AQHA Animal Welfare Commission, in an effort to do right by the horse, will share discussion, action items and recommendations with the Association's alliance partners. AQHA's prohibition against inhumane treatment applies to AQHA members and nonmembers.

AQHA news and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA and visit

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