Equine Welfare News

  • Step In, Sally

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    Join 20,000 people in signing our letter calling on Sally Jewell to act to protect America’s wild horses.

    We need YOUR help in asking the new Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, to protect wild horses.

    As a conservationist and outdoor enthusiast, she brings to the Interior Department a different mindset than her predecessor Ken Salazar, a rancher whose pro-livestock policies were devastating to wild horses.

    However, Jewell appears to know little about wild horses and burros. During her confirmation process, she answered just one question on the issue, posed in writing by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In her response, she pledged to work together with Senator Wyden to “pursue effective and ecologically sustainable policies” for the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse and burro program.

    Now is our chance to bring this issue to Jewell’s attention and hold her to her promise to work together toward reform.

    We’re collecting signatures on an open letter that will be delivered to Sally Jewell in her first days as Interior Secretary. The goal to demonstrate that tens of thousands of Americans are fed up with the direction of the program and the toll it’s taking on wild horses, burros and American taxpayers.

    Take Action

  • Oppose Round Up of Oregon’s South Steens Mustangs

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    Via the American Wild Horse Preservation.

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is giving the public just 17 days to submit comments on a plan to roundup and remove wild horses living in the South Steens Herd Management Area (HMA), which is located 75 miles south of Burns, Oregon. Known as the “Hollywood Herd,” the South Steens horses are both colorful (many pintos) and accessible, making them one of the most popular and frequently photographed populations in the U.S.

    Just four years ago, the BLM conducted a helicopter roundup in the mountainous South Steens HMA, removing hundreds of wild horses from the range. The horses were thrown into holding pens; most will remain in captivity in government holding facilities for life. Now, four years later, the agency is planning another roundup in the HMA, and targeting over 300 horses for removal.

    Despite sequestration and budget crises and despite the lack of holding space for captured mustangs due to the stockpiling of an astounding 50,000 wild horses, the BLM just does not get the message that its fiscally irresponsible and inhumane ways must change. The agency must stop rounding up and removing wild horses from their homes on the range, and start properly implementing a PZP fertility control program. Current wild horse numbers can be accommodated by modest adjustments to livestock grazing in order to give PZP the time to stabilize population numbers, and reduce the herd size over time.

    The BLM allocates 72% of available forage in this HMA, not to federally-protected wild horses, but to a private rancher who grazes his livestock on our public lands at tax-subsidized rates. This leaves ample room for the agency to adjust forage allocations to maintain the current South Steens wild horses on the range and avoid costly removals.

    Take Action

  • These donkeys need your help

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    Via  Donkey Whisperer Farm:

    It has come to our attention via the poster shown that a donkey roping event is scheduled for May 25 and 26 in Welch, OK. We stopped ropings in Eden, TX and Van Horne, TX last year. Please send letters and call to get this one stopped too!

    Donkey roping is a cruel and completely unnecessary “sport.” Donkeys are anatomically different from cattle, and their bodies cannot stand up to the rigors of roping the way a steer’s can. Their joints articulate differently, and they have a long cervical spine (neck) that is easily broken when stretched between two horses that weight 3 – 6 times as much as a donkey. In addition, given the length and design of their necks, their windpipes are often crushed during the event. The bones in their legs are often broken as well. Donkeys do not have horns to rope, and often the cartilage of their ears is broken by the ropes or by putting the “hats” on that normally protect a steer.

    Roping is an art, and the ropes need to land on the correct locations on the cattle in order to handle them without injury. Donkeys do not have the same locations as a cow does, making it much more likely to cause lasting injuries. Also a donkey’s skin is not the same as a cow’s, and often they end up with necks covered in blisters from the ropes tearing their skin

    For more information about contacting representatives to stop this event, and to see the damage that can happen to roped donkeys, please visit Donkey Whisperer Farm.

  • Marathoner goes extra mile to help horse rescue center

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    Excerpted from an article by Kimberly Piña in the Houston Chronicle.

    Five miles north of Katy on more than 70 acres of green pastures is where Pops and Honey are living out the golden years of their life, relaxing and enjoying time together.

    They often have visitors who spend time with them like Katy mom Kelli Kerkhoff, who said she is grateful to see the couple happy now after neglect and suffering marred their lives.

    “Pops is just really sweet and he was about to be sent off to a slaughterhouse so he was brought there,” said Kerkhoff, 39. “And Honey had been kept in a garage for a couple of years and she was underweight and malnourished but she’s there now and doing well.”

    Pops and Honey are enjoying a different kind of retirement as horses, being protected and cared for at the Blue Ribbon Equine Horse Rescue at 25150 Beckendorff Road. As a volunteer, Kerkhoff grooms horses, walks them around and feeds them.

    “I’ve always had a love for animals, dogs, cats and horses especially, and since they can’t speak for themselves, I have a strong urge to work with them,” said Kerkhoff, who grew up around horses as a child and sought out a place to volunteer after she and her family moved to Katy last year.

    Kerkhoff recently combined her love of horses and running to participate in the Chevron Houston Marathon in January to raise funds and awareness for the horse rescue. An avid runner who has competed in five other marathons, Kerkhoff trained with a Katy-area running group for six months to prepare for the Houston marathon.

    “I ran my fastest marathon yet by 13 minutes and qualified for the Boston Marathon,” said Kerkhoff, who ran in a rainy and windy Houston marathon. “It was a total shock that I qualified, especially considering how bad the weather was.”

    Kerkhoff was “Hoofin’ It for Horses” at the marathon, a catchy name that Blue Ribbon owner Barbara Jacobs came up with once Kerkhoff decided to run to support the rescue.

    Read the rest of the article here.

  • Federal Government Plans to Eliminate Wild Horses from 2 Million Acres of WY Public Land

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    Excerpted from an article on the Cloud Foundation.

    A federal court in Wyoming is expected to rule imminently on a proposed settlement agreement between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA) that, if approved by the Court, would wipe out wild horses from the Wyoming Checkerboard, a two-million acre swath of public and private land in the southern part of the state. The settlement agreement, or Consent Decree, is in response to a lawsuit filed by the nation’s largest grazing association against the Interior Department. The settlement is vigorously opposed by the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, The Cloud Foundation and the International Society for the Preservation of Mustangs and Burros, who were granted intervenor status in the case.

    “The Consent Decree, if approved, will have extreme consequences for the wild horses that are currently roaming free on the public lands of the Wyoming Checkerboard,” wrote attorney Katherine Meyer, of the public interest law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal, in opposition to the proposed consent decree. “[T]he Decree proposes to entirely eliminate more than one-third of the current allowable wild horse population in the state. These are extreme measures that will not only negatively impact the Intervenors’ interests but will have long-standing and devastating consequences for Wyoming’s wild horses.”

    Continue the rest of the article here.

  • Horse-Slaughter Jobs Embraced in State Where Cowboys Roam

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    Excerpted from an article by Alan Bjerga and Amanda J. Crawford on Business Week.

    Tim Sappington is ready to buy horses for Valley Meat Co., which is seeking to open the first U.S. horse slaughterhouse since 2007. Right now he’s the only paid employee, and he puts his money where his mouth is.

    He eats horse meat. And he likes it.

    “I’ve eaten it for years,” said Sappington, who slaughters the animals himself and keeps a meat locker stocked at his home near Roswell, New Mexico.

    Sappington and others see the plan to reopen the shuttered cattle facility about 8 miles outside Roswell, near a ranch that is home to a Kentucky Derby winner, as a chance to reclaim jobs now going to Mexico.

    The idea of killing horses for food has generated heated opposition from animal-welfare advocates who say it is cruel and could introduce unhealthy meat into the food supply, and it has spurred legislation in Congress to keep it from happening.

    Read The Full Story Here

  • Scribbles the horse, bound for slaughter, gets a second chance — and an amazing reunion

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    Much of the story of Scribbles and her journey from a kill pen to a reunion with her former owners boils down to chance. Excerpted from an article by Christine Loman on York Daily Record.

    York, PA – It was late in the day, later than she usually stayed at horse sales, when Kelly Smith walked past a pen holding horses that had been sold for slaughter. Smith, the director of Omega Horse Rescue in Peach Bottom Township, noticed a brown bay mare with blood running down her leg. She and another rescuer tried to staunch the bleeding, first with napkins from a lunch counter and then with a coat someone had left nearby.

    For more than 20 years, she’s rescued horses and built relationships with others at the Lancaster County horse sale, including people who buy horses for slaughter. She got permission from the buyer to treat the horse and called a vet, who sutured the leg.

    By then, Smith said she wasn’t leaving the horse behind. She bought it for $360.

    Like so many times before, she took photos and uploaded them to Facebook to show her followers what she was doing.

    Hours later and hundreds of miles away in Harwich, Mass., Brittany Wallace, 16, was on the computer doing research. It was early in the morning on Nov. 13 and she had spent the night on the couch to be near the family dog, Kona, who was sick. Kona died at 6 that morning.

    She thought about her childhood, of growing up with Kona and her horse, Scribbles.

    Scribbles and Kona had joined the Wallace family in the same week when Brittany was 9 years old. The family sold the horse when Brittany was older, and later lost touch with Scribbles.

    Continue reading the article here.

  • Bureau Of Land Management Restricts Sale Of Wild Horses After Investigation Of Colorado Livestock Hauler

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    Excerpted from an article by Sandra Chereb on Huffington Post.

    CARSON CITY, Nev. — Sales of wild horses and burros will be restricted under new rules announced Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management after an investigation into the sale of more than 1,700 horses to a Colorado livestock hauler who supports the horse meat industry.

    “It is a response to that inquiry, which is being conducted right now by the Office of the Inspector General of the Interior Department,” said Tom Gorey, BLM spokesman for the wild horse program in Washington, D.C.

    Wild horse advocates said the rules amount to “window dressing” and won’t keep large numbers of mustangs out of the hands of so-called kill buyers.

    The inspector general is investigating what became of 1,777 horses sold since 2009 to Tom Davis. Wild horse advocates fear the animals were taken to Mexico for slaughter.

    “He’s the biggest buyer among all of our buyers over the years,” Gorey said of Davis. Since 2005, when the BLM first allowed people to buy horses in bulk as opposed to adopting them, the agency has sold 5,400 animals, Gorey said.

    An investigation of Davis’ wild horse purchases was published by ProPublica in September.

    Gorey said the inspector general is “looking into all aspects of the sales to Davis, including the whereabouts of the horses.”

    He said it’s unknown when the investigation will be finished.

    Read the rest of the article here.

  • Canadian horse welfare code up for comment

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    Excerpted from an article on Horsetalk.co.nz.

    Public comment is being invited on a draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines in Canada.

    Submissions on the code, proposed by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) are open until February 14, 2013. All stakeholders are encouraged to provide input to ensure that the Code reflects a common understanding of equine care expectations and recommended practices in Canada.

    A Scientists’ Committee report summarizing research on priority welfare topics for equines can be found online alongside the draft Code. This peer-reviewed report aided the discussions of the Code Development Committee as they prepared the draft Code of Practice.

    “I’m proud of the collaborative effort committee members have shown since we began our work in early 2011,” said Jack de Wit, Director with the Equine Canada Board of Directors and Chair of the Code Development Committee.

    “The next step is opening the draft Code to input from the public. With the public’s help we will have a Code that is good for owners and the animals in their care.”

    Anyone can provide comments and suggestions on the Code; all submissions must be made through the online system.

    The code can be viewed at nfacc.ca/codes-of-practice/equine.

    Continue reading the article here.

  • Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Opens ‘Second Chances Ranch’ at Correctional Facility

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    Excerpted from an article on BloodHorse.com.

    The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) has announced an agreement with the State of Illinois to open its ninth correctional facility-based farm, the Second Chances Ranch at the Vandalia Correctional Facility in Vandalia.

    A vocational training program in equine care and management for inmate students, Vandalia’s Second Chances Ranch will commence with a capacity for 30 to 40 horses with room to expand in the future. The TRF will be moving horses from non-correctional facility-based farms to the new center. The organization will also be working with the Illinois Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association on a plan for funding the retirement of horses in need from Illinois tracks.

    At Second Chances Ranch, as at the TRF’s eight other corrections based farms, inmate students will learn practical job skills and reap the proven therapeutic benefit of working with horses on a daily basis.

    A fundraiser is underway for the TRF to raise the capital funds needed to build fencing and renovate barns at the facility. The organization is also looking for supply and equipment donations from the surrounding areas.

    Read the rest of the article here.

  • Up to 6000 British horses face ‘winter of misery’

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    Excerpted from an article on Horsetalk.co.nz.

    Equine charities in Britain fear a winter of misery is ahead for thousands of horses, and want authorities and the public to step up to avert what they call the approaching equine crisis.

    The charities estimate about 6000 horses could be at risk as Britain heads into winter, and warn that they are already at breaking point in being able to care for neglect cases.

    The six charities – the British RSPCA, Redwings, The Blue Cross, World Horse Welfare, HorseWorld, and the British Horse Society – have laid out the growing problem in a report entitled “Left On the Verge: the approaching Equine Crisis in England and Wales“.

    It predicts that another harsh winter will leave animal charities physically unable to cope and asks what will happen to the increasing numbers of horses being abandoned or suffering from neglect.

    They have called on the public to rehome more horses and for horse owners to take responsibility for their animals and not pass the problem on to local authorities, charities and landowners.

    The charities have also called on the Government and other agencies to help rein in the problem before another winter takes its toll on horses.

    Read the rest of the article here.

  • Firefighters practice rescue skills needed in horse barn

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    Excerpted from an article by Bruce A. Scruton for the New Jersey Herald.

    FREDON — The barn was filling with smoke.

    The firefighters were there with helmets and turnout coats on, leading the horses, blankets over their heads, from one end of the barn to the other.

    It was a drill at Spring Valley Farm, one of the township’s largest equine centers, giving firefighters and some horse owners a sense of what to do should a real fire strike the horse barn.

    Running the training session was Bob Bishop, an insurance agent who specializes in agricultural properties, especially horse farms.

    “There’s 90 horses on this property,” Bishop told the firefighters and rescue squad members gathered Tuesday at the farm for a run-through of the property, common among firefighters when it comes to factories, school and other large buildings, but a rarity when it comes to a barn complex.

    Bishop’s presentation included facts on barn fires, especially fires involving horse barns. He also handed the firefighters a diagram of the property, including the several barns, main electric junction boxes and propane tanks. The drawings, one for each of the town fire trucks, also included roadways and the large pond that would serve as a water source in case of a fire.

    “These barns are like tinderboxes,” Bishop said, noting they often have baled hay — a good fuel source — and large open spaces where a fire can move along unchecked.

    Most barn fires are actually caused by wet hay that begins to decompose, creating enough heat to ignite itself spontaneously. Barns also have exposed electrical wires, which can be another ignition source.

    Bishop said a typical barn fire might last just 30 minutes but destroy the structure, so quick action leading the animals to safety is needed.

    Continue reading the story here.

  • All the Missing Horses: What Happened to the Wild Horses Tom Davis Bought From the Gov’t?

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    Excerpted from an article by Dave Philipps for ProPublica.

    The Bureau of Land Management faced a crisis this spring.

    The agency protects and manages herds of wild horses that still roam the American West, rounding up thousands of them each year to keep populations stable.

    But by March, government pens and pastures were nearly full. Efforts to find new storage space had fallen flat. So had most attempts to persuade members of the public to adopt horses. Without a way to relieve the pressure, the agency faced a gridlock that would invite lawsuits and potentially cause long-term damage to the range.

    So the BLM did something it has done increasingly over the last few years. It turned to a little-known Colorado livestock hauler named Tom Davis who was willing to buy hundreds of horses at a time, sight unseen, for $10 a head.

    The BLM has sold Davis at least 1,700 wild horses and burros since 2009, agency records show — 70 percent of the animals purchased through its sale program.

    Like all buyers, Davis signs contracts promising that animals bought from the program will not be slaughtered and insists he finds them good homes.

    But Davis is a longtime advocate of horse slaughter. By his own account, he has ducked Colorado law to move animals across state lines and will not say where they end up. He continues to buy wild horses for slaughter from Indian reservations, which are not protected by the same laws. And since 2010, he has been seeking investors for a slaughterhouse of his own.

    “Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt,” he said. “What is wrong with taking all those BLM horses they got all fat and shiny and setting up a kill plant?”

    Animal welfare advocates fear that horses bought by Davis are being sent to the killing floor.

    Read the rest of this compelling story here.

  • Famous Horse Was Discovered Neglected And Saved By A Rescue

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    Excerpted from an article by D.K. Wright for WTRF.

    On August 18, a draft horse rescue in Cambridge took in a black stallion. They knew his name was Ollie, and he was in bad shape, with two teeth knocked out, sore feet, a skin infection, dull hair and malnutrition.

    “He was probably 400 pounds under where he should be,” says Lisa Gordon, of Frog Pond Farm Draft Horse Rescue.

    Ollie thrived at Frog Pond Farm. He came around quickly on his rehabilitation diet of five meals a day, gradual gentle exercise, and vet and chiropractic care. Ollie was shockingly charming and polite, and quickly became Lisa Gordon’s favorite.

    “I always tease her about favoritism, how she favors him over everybody else,” said Emmi Gordon, Lisa’s 15-year-old daughter.

    Then Lisa discovered something amazing. Ollie wasn’t any old draft horse. He was Fox Valley Oliver, champion and reserve champion in the United States and Canada. Of all the Shire breed, he was a rock star among horses. He was chosen by the prestigious Breyer Company to be the model for their special edition Breeds of the World toy model horse.

    But since then, he had gone from rock star to rock bottom.

    Read the rest of the story (and watch a video about Ollie) here.

  • Economics, equine laws and lobbies strain horse ownership

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    Excerpted from a story by Chris Caldwell on StGeorgeUtah.com.

    ST. GEORGE – Horses in America and their owners are facing challenges. While equines will always capture the hearts of men, equine laws and lobbies are in tension and horse owners and breeders are facing increasing costs and realities that, for some, offset the benefits.

    Dry climates are cutting away at agricultural production, and the trickle-down effect is being felt all the way down to the individual farmers. Feed and gas prices are at record-setting highs, and pushing farmers to reevaluate what animals they choose to raise. Horses are not immune to the reality check many owners are facing.

    According to a July 2012 report by the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration 71 percent of the country is classified as being in a state of abnormally dry to exceptionally dry. And this is no blip on the radar. Besides causing nationwide problems, this is costing local farmers money, resources, and even livestock.

    “The cost of keeping horses has gone up dramatically in the past three years,” local horse owner Sheri Peterson said. “The price of hay has doubled.”

    Continue reading this story here.

  • Horse advocacy groups to use undercover investigators

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    Excerpted from an article on horsetalk.co.nz.

    Two horse advocacy groups are putting professional undercover cruelty investigators on the job.

    The Equine Welfare Alliance and the Wild Horse Freedom Foundation announced what they called a new working relationship with a team of professional undercover cruelty investigators.

    They said the new alliance would increase the ability of the two groups to inform law enforcement, lawmakers, the media and the public regarding all forms of cruelty to domestic and wild equines.

    The groups described the investigators as hard-nosed and effective, with a history of successful investigations focused primarily on equine cruelty related to the slaughter pipeline.

    The work of the investigators had assisted enforcement agencies and exposed many inhumane conditions inherent to the horse slaughter world, they said.

    Read the rest of this story here.

  • AVMA and AAEP urge strong enforcement of Horse Protection Act at Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration

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    Excerpted from a story in the Sacramento Bee.

    SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Aug. 23, 2012 — The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) urge veterinarians, owners, trainers, riders, event spectators, media and the public to redouble their efforts to identify and report sored horses at this year’s Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn. This includes reporting suspected soring activity in barns and training facilities in the Shelbyville area.

    The AVMA and AAEP are urging vigilance because of concerns that sored horses will be participating at the Celebration.

    For more than 40 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has worked diligently to enforce the Horse Protection Act (HPA), which prohibits soring. The USDA recently took another step toward ending soring by instituting mandatory penalties for violators.

    SHOW, a horse industry organization (HIO) that will be inspecting horses during this year’s Celebration, is one of three HIOs for which the USDA is pursuing decertification, citing failure to comply with USDA mandatory penalties.

    For more information, please read the full article here.

  • Horse charity happy with Olympic welfare measures

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    Excerpted from an article on horsetalk.co.nz.

    British-based international charity World Horse Welfare says its is pleased with welfare standards in place for the equestrian competition at the Olympics.

    World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers said horses competing in London will benefit from preparations that have been made to ensure their fitness and welfare.

    Some of the measures, such as the cooling of the horses, have been developed with help from the charity.

    Owers said his organisation was pleased with the importance placed on horse welfare by the FEI and the London Games organising body, LOCOG.

    “We are confident that the Games have been prepared with the horses’ safety, welfare and comfort as the top priority, and it will be fantastic to see these top equine and human athletes compete on an international stage in the centre of London.”

    World Horse Welfare has worked as an independent welfare adviser to the FEI for more than 30 years, helping to draft its code of conduct, which places the welfare of the horse above all other considerations, commercial or competitive.

    Read the rest of the article here.

  • Treasure Coast sisters, 9 and 12, raise money to save endangered horses

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    Excerpted from an article by Amy Bower Doucette in The Palm Beach Post.

    Brandi and Heather Milner were shocked when their trainer Holly McFall told them about three emaciated horses rescued by Equine Rescue Adoption Foundation, where she is barn manager.The sisters looked at photos of the mare and her two foals, skeletal from malnutrition, and decided they had to do something. They started selling baked goods and lemonade around their hometown of Stuart.

    While most of their classmates at Redeemer Lutheran School spent their last few weeks of summer at the pool or the mall, the girls raised just over $200 for the Palm City nonprofit. The staff of ERAF was honored to accept the donation and introduce the Milners to the horses they’d worked so hard to help.

    “We take lessons at Holly’s,” said Brandi, 9. “She told us she would take us to ERAF, but she never got a chance. So we looked them up online and started raising money for them.”

    With help from their mom, Annmarie, and a group of friends, the girls made Rice Krispy treats, cookies and lemonade and sold them at the Stuart sandbar in the Intracoastal Waterway off Sailfish Point.

    “They made $75 the first weekend,” Annmarie said.

    Continue reading their story here.

  • Horse champion hands over reins

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    Sandra Shearer has rescued thousands of horses from abuse and neglect, guarding the welfare of the animals nationwide for 22 years.

    Now the former International League for the Protection of Horses chief executive has resigned, leaving the role to the SPCA’s Auckland horse welfare auxiliary.

    The league was established in New Zealand in 1990 to act as an equine lobby and welfare protection group.

    But when its umbrella organisation in the United Kingdom restructured, the New Zealand league became affiliated with SPCA Auckland.

    Working for the league Mrs Shearer investigated complaints of neglect, organised re-homing of rescued horses, ponies and donkeys, lobbied to improve legislation and codes of practices related to equine welfare, provided professional advice, and fundraised to keep the league going.

    The rest of the article is continued here.

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