AQHA Lip Chain Coalition Conducts 3rd National Meeting at the Breeders Halter Futurity and Halter Championship Show

September 19th, 2015 9:09 PM | 5 Comments

Press Release

4515110September 14, 2015.—The My Membership Voice Matters Coalition, an international group opposed to the recent ruling by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) banning the use of lip chains at AQHA shows in 2016, conducted a presentation this past weekend at the Breeders Halter Futurity and Championship Show, Des Moines, IA. The presentation was held in the Jacobson Center, Iowa State Fairgrounds and was well attended by exhibitors, breeders, trainers and judges. During the presentation Ramona Caldwell, Coalition Chairwoman,  presented the Coalition’s position in opposition to the ban and answered questions from those in attendance.  “We were quite pleased with the turnout at the BHF which shows the growing support for our position that this ban has no factual basis and is not good for the AQHA Halter showing discipline,” said Ramona Caldwell.

2414940The Coalition and its supporters maintain that the AQHA’s stated reason for the ban, that is, the lip chain is an inhumane treatment of the horse, is completely baseless and has conducted its own research to find instances of where the horse has been abused or injured from the use of lip chains at AQHA shows. To date, the Coalition has been unable to find a single documented case of abuse or inhumane treatment anywhere in the USA. Using the enablement of social media the Coalition has also conducted international surveys of the opinions of AQHA members and owners. “What we found, and was somewhat surprised by, is the large number of people who are very well versed in the lip chain’s value in terms of safety, control and focus — many of whom do not routinely use it but want the option,” said Ed Lawrence, Coalition Director of Communications.

Caldwell also said, “Our halter show horses are large animals and  well conditioned athletes with extraordinary muscle, strength and pent up energy. If they become distracted or startled their flight or fight instincts can kick in and overpower a human handler quickly. In the case of some stallions other horses too could be placed in a dangerous situation. A properly applied lip chain serves to control and focus the halter horse’s attention on the handler. These are large show animals no different than any other large well conditioned animals being asked to perform in an unnatural environment. You would not send a child in the cattle show pen with an 800 pound steer without a show stick, would you? To the uninformed that tool has a wicked looking point and barb but try to successfully show cattle without the show stick’s scratch hook and point. It calms them and keeps them focused on the handler. The lip chain serves a similar function.”

When asked what the next step in its opposition to the ban will be Caldwell said, “We will continue to gather information for presentation to the AQHA Executive Committee. We have quite large sums of data from the veterinary community. We have thousands of statements of support from the horse showing community. Right now we are focusing our attentions on the economic impact this ban might have because quite a few people have said they will no longer show AQHA horses if it is not rescinded. As a group we do not subscribe to that thinking but it must be looked at. This could possibly have a significant economic impact on AQHA and affiliate horse showing revenue.”

The Coalition’s next National Meeting will be held during the AQHA World Show, November 20, 2015, 4:00pm, at the Biltmore Hotel, Oklahoma City, OK.

5 Responses to “AQHA Lip Chain Coalition Conducts 3rd National Meeting at the Breeders Halter Futurity and Halter Championship Show”

  1. At what point do we really put exhibitor safety first. Will we soon ban bits for riding because somebody who never touched a horse or shared the same space with one thinks the bit, which by the way can do ten times the damage as a gum chain, is cruel and inhumane. What the quarter horse industry was built on was folks with a backbone and now unfortunately it is run by folks who cave in to every complaint. How about listening to your membership, the folks who have devoted their lives to an industry that pays your salary.

  2. IMO AQHA leadership demonstrated incredible backbone in making a decision they knew would not be universally popular–but that they believed to be the best thing for the breed moving forward. While there are members who oppose the rule change, there are also members who strongly support it–and who believe the time is right to shift toward emphasizing disposition and trainability in ALL of our show horses.

  3. Don’t want to belabor the point but I don’t think it was ever about trainability or abuse. I think it is merely a decision made based on perception without regard to exhibitor or spectator safety. Showing halter at the highest levels as well as the weekend shows I don’t ever recall anyone regardless of the experience level misusing the gum chain. I have however seen on many occasions seen showmanship horses just throttled with the chain either over the nose or under the chin. My point is an abusive person should be suspended or disciplined because they will abuse regardless of the method. Don’t penalize an entire discipline for the lack of good horse sense of a few.

  4. As an AQHA member and halter horse breeder, owner and exhibitor, I am always amazed by those who refer to training and disposition when the use of a lip chain is mentioned. This has absolutely nothing to do with training or disposition and those who offer it up as some sort of instant and dismissive solution have not researched this as an AQHA membership issue, nor have they likely held onto a muscled-up, extremely well-fed, 1500 pound horse (stallion, mare or gelding) being asked to stand quietly in an unnatural environment with distractions that cannot be replicated at home. What this is — and I strongly suggest everybody should take a serious look behind the scenes before offering up their instant “solutions” aimed at our horse — is about a decision that was made without AQHA membership at-large involvement or prior knowledge. A decision that was made over the recommendation of a duly constituted AQHA subject-matter Committee comprised of state affiliate representatives. This did not take “incredible backbone” because our Executive Committee did not allow any input from AQHA rank and file members and therefore did not know anything about how unpopular or popular this decision might be. That has since been corrected. Here’s what this is truly — this decision takes away a CHOICE an AQHA member has when it comes to exhibiting his or her horse. A choice to use a tool that, contrary to the Executive Committee’s statement, is not inhumane or abused. In fact, those of us who have been doing the research for the better part of a year now cannot find a single documented instance of where a horse has been injured or hurt from the use of a lip chain at any AQHA show — nationwide. Not one. We remain puzzled by this and want to know on what basis did our Executive Committee used to make such a sweeping decision that has all the potential to wipe out a significant segment of AQHA member exhibitors and ultimately AQHA memberships. Open your eyes and make your decision based not on humanistic feelings about the “look” of a lip chain or romantic notions about our American Icon – the horse. A properly place and used lip chain rests on the same soft tissue in a horse’s mouth as another centuries-old and universally used tool that hangs from a bridle. As an AQHA member you should make your decision based on the facts and then ask yourself, “is this an example of fair and honest dealings with our membership, of which I belong”.

  5. Well stated Ed and you have supported what I said perfectly. This is not an issue about function it is an issue purely rooted in image and image alone.

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