Controversy: AQHA takes position against FEI

08/01/2019 – On December 19, 2018 FEI notified both NRHA and AQHA by e-mail to terminate the cooperative agreement with both bodies. The official FEI statement read: “In order to ensure the integrity of the discipline and maintain a level playing field for all athletes competing in FEI reining, the agreement with these two bodies has now been terminated. Both the AQHA and NRHA have been informed that a binding commitment to implement the FEI rules on anti-doping, stewarding requirements and the age of competing horses are prerequisites for any future cooperation.”
That NRHA handles a different anti-doping policy than FEI is a given fact. In a recently published statement AQHA Executive Vice President Craig P. Huffhines states firmly that AQHA has always kept to the cooperation agreement. AQHA emphasizes the importance of the cooperation with FEI with the goal to someday introduce the sport into Olympic equestrian competition. The commitment of AQHA has strongly contributed in the establishment of Reining as an internationally recognized sport and being part of the FEI World Equestrian Games.
Pursuant to the cooperation agreement, all events specifically organized for horses 7 years of age and older are to be held under the jurisdiction of FEI. AQHA does not offer a class that is specifically organized for horses 7 years of age and older. AQHA’s business models reflect a desire to start American Quarter Horses at an earlier age with the junior division (3 to 5) and the senior division (6 or older).
The AQHA Staff spoke by phone with Bettina de Rham, FEI director of Dressage, Para-equestrian, Vaulting and Reining. AQHA stated that Reining originated in the United States under the umbrella of AQHA. As such, AQHA does not believe that the sport and equine industry benefited from such approach. AQHA further explained that the issue of age divisions between AQHA and FEI is less of a welfare issue and more of a marketplace issue and believes FEI should strongly consider aligning with the original authors of the sport on this issue. As for the Olympic dream for Reining, Huffhines is afraid economics have more to say about the USOC’s decisions on equestrian sports or for that matter adding any new sports to the Olympic venue. 
The complete text of the AQHA statement had been provided by Uli Vey, International Director of the German Quarter Horse Association, to our valued colleague Ramona Billing and can be read visiting www.western-journal.de.

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Photo: Craig Huffhines. Photo: American Horse Council, USA


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