The Welfare Code of Practice, drafted by the American Horse Council (AHC), outlines what it means for an organization to be committed to the responsible breeding, training, care, use, enjoyment, transport and retirement of horses. The code has been endorsed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, 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.
"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."
According to the AHC, the code is not intended to impose rules on any specific segment of the industry, but instead provides generic terminology that can be endorsed by a wide variety of organizations. It is hoped that the code will provide a framework with which equine organizations can formalize their welfare philosophy and policy. It is also hoped that this move will indicate to the public, media and officials that the horse industry "puts the horse first".
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has responded to the new code by pointing out the activities it wishes to see an end to in response to the new code. "We are hopeful that this code of practice will translate into meaningful action to address some of the most pressing welfare problems facing the horse industry today, such as: overbreeding; the slaughter of American horses for human consumption; the use of drugs for non-therapeutic purposes in racing and other competitions; and the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses," said Holly Hazard, The HSUS’ chief innovations officer.