Thursday, 30 April 2015

AQHA’s lip chain rule

Glad to see AQHA committee members consulted with animal welfare, vet, and professionals in their decision to eliminate lip chains. So this is how the evidence weighs in to me…
  1.  Artificial aids work “humanely” when they provide a pressure and release system, logical to the horse.
  2. To be effective, that pressure must be enough to motivate that horse in that environment. Prey animals, despite training, can do things we don’t expect in an unfamiliar territory – especially stallions, so driven by their hormones. When you don’t have your tools available in the moment, you miss a training opportunity or worse. However…
  3. The timing of the handler must be sophisticated enough to deliver the right intensity and timing of that pressure. While many handlers are highly skilled, others are…not. Too much pressure or constant pressure – I’ve got to admit, I was uneasy with the idea of lip chains allowed for mares, geldings, youth or amateurs.
  4. The general public evaluates the industry on what they see from the bleachers. As exhibitors, we’re ambassadors for our industry. Perception is everything.  

So every discipline has its gut level criticism – maybe throwing the baby out with the bathwater (I hate that expression) in eliminating practices on the basis or potential abuse or perception versus their intrinsic cruelty. A measured response, based on evidence – let cooler heads prevail!

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