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☛ Wild Horses escape chopping block 5-16-18


Wild Horses Escape The Chopping Block

In Ombinus Spending Bill


By Richard E. Dennis
May 16, 2018


Wild Horses are as symbolic of the American West as:  Cactus, Mountains, Prairies, Buffalo, and Native Americans. For centuries Wild Horses have embodied the American Spirit, roamed the mountains and plains of America, and engaged daily in a never ending struggle for survival.  Today, Wild Horses and Burros are confronted with an even greater predator threat to their survival besides Mother Nature and predators, (e.g. The Bureau of Land Management and Domestic Cattle and Sheep producers grazing on public grasslands).  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Domestic Livestock producers are constantly engaging in FALSE propaganda narratives claiming the Wild Mustang and Burros are eating themselves out of “House and Home” from over population.


However, this man made False Narrativeis filled with half truths which only depicts one sided narratives, derived from their interpretation and doesn’t take into account the actual facts and causative factors involved in the Wild Mustang and Burros plight.  Statistical data has proven over and over, the actual cause of the Wild Horses and Burros plight is directly due to one of mans oldest sins – GREED. Instead of proposing a reduction in livestock, Bureaucrats and Ranchers propose a reduction in wildlife including Wild Mustangs, Burros, and predators. Of course these individuals don’t correctly inform the public the overgrazing and sustainable water reductions are directly contributed to overstocking Domestic Livestock populations.


Our public grasslands and parks were set aside for the wild life and Citizens of the United States of America and not for the exclusive use of domestic livestock ranchers.  The dichotomy of the ranching philosophy is that it embodies two ideological concepts: 1) They feel it is their right to make a living off the American public from a reduction in grazing fees and government tax payer provided subsidies, and 2) their rights as livestock producers take precedent over the rights of wildlife living in our parks and on our public grasslands. Thus, this dichotomy makes cohabitation unrealistic.


These two ambiguous philosophies directly contribute to diametrical conclusions for our public grasslands, wildlife, as well as the past, present, and future of our heritage.  In a recent article by the Washington Post entitled “Wild horses escape the chopping block in spending bill”, by By Karin Brulliard March 22, 2018, the author states: Among the winners in a $1.3 trillion spending bill congressional leaders agreed to Thursday: wild horses. Negotiators said nay to a House proposal to allow the culling of tens of thousands of horses and burros that roam the West or are held in government-funded corrals and ranches. Proponents of the idea, including its sponsor, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), described “humane euthanization” as a last-ditch tool for controlling an escalating equine population that is degrading public land and causing horses to starve.


But the proposal was vigorously opposed by wild horse advocacy groups, which have long resisted efforts to limit the federally protected animals that have become symbols of the American West. The groups accuse the Bureau of Land Management, which manages the wild horse and burro populations, of bowing to demands from cattle ranchers who view equine herds as competitors on grazing land.


“We are thrilled that Congress has rejected this sick horse slaughter plan,” Marilyn Kroplick, president of the animal rights group In Defense of Animals, said in a statement that claimed horse lovers had “jammed Congressional phone lines with calls and sent tens of thousands of emails” to make their case. The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act gave the animals federal protections, and it also permitted the interior secretary to sell or euthanize older and unadoptable animals. But for much of the past three decades, Congress has used annual appropriations bill riders to prohibit the killing of healthy animals and any “sale that results in their destruction for processing into commercial products.”


In July, however, the House Appropriations Committee voted to remove Interior Department budget language banning culls. Stewart said at the time that the proposal would not permit horse sales for commercial processing — including for meat. The last U.S. horse slaughterhouse closed in 2007, but meat-processing plants in Mexico and Canada slaughter tens of thousands of domestic American horses each year for export to Europe and Asia. A Senate proposal retained the protections.


Although the spending bill negotiated this week keeps horses off the chopping block, it does not put forward solutions to what people on all sides of this heated issue agree is a problem. About 46,000 wild horses and burros are in corrals that cost the BLM nearly $50 million to maintain each year, and 73,000 others run free in western states. That’s nearly three times the 27,000 animals the bureau says the land can sustain. Horse advocacy groups say that reducing the free-roaming herds to that figure would risk their extinction.


Adoptions, which have been the bureau’s primary tool for shrinking the population, totaled just 3,517 in 2017. Among other proposals, horse activists have called for wider use of contraception, which skeptics say would be impractical for large-scale reductions.


Neither the BLM nor Stewart’s office responded to requests for comment on the spending bill. In a New York Times column in December, the lawmaker described himself as a horse lover but lamented the funding for corralled horses, saying it would total $1 billion over the animals’ lifetimes.


“That’s $1 billion we could otherwise spend on defense, education, job training or any other worthy cause,” Stewart said. “But the alternative for these horses is starving in the wild.”  The Trump administration’s fiscal 2019 budget calls for doing away with the usual rider that prevents their sale or killing in favor of allowing the bureau to use a “full suite of tools” to manage the herds.


“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between The Bridle”


Richard E. “Rick” Dennis

Office/Mobil: (985) 630-3500


Web Site:

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☛ Wild horses winners “this time around” 5-12-18






May 12, 2018
By Glory Ann Kurtz

Karin Brulliard recently wrote an article in the Washington Post entitled, “Negotiators said “nay” to a House proposal to allow the culling of tens of thousands of horses and burros that roam the West or are held in government funded corrals and ranches.”


The proponents of the proposal included its sponsor Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah).


However, the proposal was vigorously opposed by wild horse advocacy groups, which have resisted efforts to limit the federally protected animals and accuse the Bureau of Land Management of bowing to demands from cattle ranchers who view equine herds as the real competitors on grazing land.


The attached article published in the Washington Post describe the ongoing battle over what to do with the nation’s wild horses, including the some 46,000 wild horses and burros in corrals that cost the BLM nearly $50 million to maintain each year and 73,000 others that run free in western states. They claim the number is three times the 27,000 animals the bureau says the land can sustain.

Wild horses escape chopping block 5-18


However, if you want the “real story” about what’s going on with the wild horses, go back to the article “Horse slaughter – Facts and Fiction, written by Risk Analyst Rick Dennis and published on July 23, 2015 on this very subject on this website.


In the article, Rick separates “Facts” from “Fiction” of this problem, giving the real figures and facts so you can make your own decisions on who the guilty parties are.

☛Horse Slaughter – Fact & Fiction 7-23-15







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☛ Would the real Dos Cats Partners Please Stand Up 5-2-18


☛ Would the real Dos Cats Partners Please Stand Up 5-2-18






By Glory Ann Kurtz and Rick Dennis, Contributing Risk Analyst
May 2, 2018


Just when we all thought the final hand had been played in the Dufurrena – Vogel lawsuits, the plot thickens. On Feb. 18, 2018, after close to eight years of disagreements and lawsuits and only weeks after a private settlement was agreed on by the Plaintiffs, Donald Eugene Vogel, Janie Vogel and Jandon Ltd., Saint Jo, Texas, and Defendants Rieta, Brandon and Edward Dufurrena, Gainesville, Texas, were still in a dispute over the ownership of three horses: Stevie Rey Von, Auspicious Cat and Creyzy Train, as well as Ozzum Man and Whata Sneaky Cat.


According to court documents (No. 1) in the District Court of Montague County, Texas, 97thJudicial District Court, Exhibit A: “all issues were settled between the Vogels and the Dufurrenas who were parties to the lawsuit. The Vogels, Ed Dufurrena, Shona Dufurrena and Brandon Dufurrena entered into a settlement agreement, Plaintiff Rieta Dufurrena did not participate in the lawsuit or the release.


The “Full and Final Release (Exhibit A of No. 1) stated that Donald Eugene Vogel, Janie S. Vogel and Jandon, Ltd., paid the sum of $1,150,000 to Ed Dufurrena and Shona Dufurrena, who tendered a bill of sale to the horses Stevie Rey Von, Auspicious Cat and Creyzy Train.


The court document stated that each party agreed to and does release and discharge each other party from any and all claims, actions, causes of action, demands, complaints, allegations, obligations, losses, detriments, counter claims, gross claims, third-party claims, subrogation claims, defenses, rights, damages, costs, penalties, fines, expenses, attorneys’ fees, compensation and relief of any kind whatsoever, whether known or unknown, whether fixed or contingent, whether liquidated, whether legal or equitable, and whether administrative, statutory or common law and whether under federal, state or municipal law, law of a foreign country or any other type of law, which any of the Parties now have or which may hereafter accrue on account of or in any way growing out of or resulting from the Pending Litigation, save and except the obligations and rights arising under this Agreement and the document signed by the parties on Jan. 24, 2018 and Feb. 7, 2018. The parties expressly agreed that the intent of each of the parties is to release all claims one against another regarding the litigation pending between them.



1-Original PetititonDufurrena v Vogels 4:13:18





 Federal Court filings in the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division lists a lawsuit entitled Shawn, and Lisa Victoria Minshall, and Lauren Victoria Minshall versus Ed Dufurrena, Ed Dufurrena Cutting Horses LLC, Anthony and Dufurrena, INC., Hartman Equine Reproduction Center (HERC), and DOS CATS PARTNERS dated October 30, 2015.


The filed public court records allege the Plaintiffs suffered specific damages arising from the material fact that the Plaintiffs bred their mare to Auspicious Cat, a stallion owned by the Defendants, and the produced foal owned by the Plaintiffs suffers from HERDA.  The court filings continue to state the Defendants specifically misrepresented the HERDA designation on Auspicious Cat both verbally and in an advertisement prior to the breeding, stating the stallion was HERDA negative or was free of the HERDA GENE by the American Quarter Horse Association 5 panel genetic test designation: HERDA N/N.


Court records verifies the misrepresentation of material fact or “false and fraudulent advertisement,” with the inclusion of a copy of a web-page ad with Ed Dufurrena riding Auspicious Cat, noting he stood at Pinnacle Equine Veterinary services, with Chelsea Makloski – Colhorn with a $2,500.00 stud fee and marked HERDA N/N – meaning the stud didn’t have the HERDA gene.  However, court records indicate Auspicious Cat is HERDA POSITIVE (carries the HERDA gene and can pass it on to his offspring).


As a result of the filed Minshall’s lawsuit, court records also indicate an “Out-Of-Court” settlement was reached on April 26, 2016 by and between the Plaintiffs – Minshall’s, and Defendants EDWARD L DUFURRENA,EDWARD DUFURRENA CUTTING HORSES LLC, ANTHONY AND DUFURRENA, INC., DOS CATS PARTNERS, KAREN CLAYCOMB, TOM DONAHUE, LINDA DONAHUE, GARY CRAIGHEAD, BARBRA HANSELMAN, MICHAEL NOLAN, TRACY A. AGRALL, BUTCH REDISH, and BLAIR VISSAR. The Order Of Dismissal (WITHOUT PREJUDICE) was filed by the Plaintiff Attorney and signed by Federal District Court Honorable Judge Amos I. Mazzant, United States District Judge.





The curious nature of the “Out-Of-Court” settlement without prejudice listed in the paragraph above, is that it doesn’t include Donald and Janie Vogel who entered into a separate contractual agreement with Edward L. Dufurrena on March 25, 2011 and/or four years prior to the Minshall’s litigation and is also entitled: “DOS CATS PARTNERS”, whereby the Vogel’s paid Dufurrena $105,000 for a 49 percent market ownership share in the partnership which included a 49 percent interest in horses and frozenembryos. Dufurrena is listed as 51 percent owner in this “DOS CATS PARTNERS”and the Vogel’s are listed as 49 percent interest investment partners, except the Miss Hickory Wheel X Auspicious Cat embryo which they are listed as 100 percent.  The listed horses and embryos on the hand-written Dufurrena “DOS CATS PARTNERS” 2011 contract are:


Auspicious Cat, Ozzum Man, Ozzum Cat, Whata Sneaky Cat, and three embryos designated as:

  1. Miss Ella Rey x Auspicious Cat – a 2011 embryo,
  2. Miss Ella Rey x Metalicat – a 2011 embryo (Stevie Rey Von), and
  3. Miss Hickory Wheel x Auspicious Cat – 2011 embryo


Dufurrena-Vogel agreement 3-25-11


For the record, and according to the hand-written contract between Edward L. Dufurrena and Donald and Janie Vogel AUSPICIOUS CAT was included in the 49 percent investment in “DOS CATS PARTNERS,”legally making the Vogel’s 49 percent “vested interest partners” in this horse who is the “SUBJECT” of the Minshall’s lawsuit. However, according to AQHA records, AUSPICIOUS CAT was recorded into the “DOS CATS PARTNERS” in 2006, or four years prior to the Vogel’s and Dufurrena partnership. Also, AQHA records indicate AUSPICIOUS CAT was purchased by “DOS CATS PARTNERS” on 12/30/2006 with the date of transfer being finalized by the AQHA on 01/16/2008.

3-Auspicous Cat owners 4-30-18


One would think, all of the horses included in the Vogel/Dufurrena “DOS CATS PARTNERS” executed in 2011 agreement, as well as any resulting foals from the embryos listed in the agreement, would’ve been transferred into the pre-existing “DOS CATS PARTNERS” on file with the AQHA which included AUSPICIOUS CAT, to make everything tidy and legally binding in lieu of the executed agreement between Vogel and Dufurrena orchestrated on March 25, 2011 along with the issuance of a $105,000.00 check to Dufurrena by the Vogel’s, which effectively makes it a binding and fully enforceable contract with performance clauses.


Therefore, how in the world could the Vogel’s as 49 percent “vested -interest partners” in the 2011 Vogel/Dufurrena “DOS CATS PARTNERS,”including AUSPICIOUS CAT – a subject of the Minshall’s lawsuit, be excluded from the Minshall’s  2015 lawsuit, as well as the 2016 “out-of-court” settlement between the “DOS CATS PARTNERS,”Dufurrena, and the Minshall’s?  The court settlement document specifically lists the current members as defendants. However, the Vogel’s are absent from court-settlement records.  Perhaps: coincidence, oversight by the Plaintiff attorney, intentional error, or intentional non-disclosure.  Another theory is no one was ever informed of the separate existing partnership by and between Edward L Dufurrena and Donald and Janie Vogel entitled “DOS CATS PARTNERS.”It’s a mystery !


One specific validation vehicle of use to verify whether or not the Vogel’s were ever included in the “DOS CATS PARTNERS”on file with the AQHA as 49 percent “vested interest partners,” in lieu of their $105,000.00 monetary investment would be to use the newly filed lawsuit against the Vogel’s, by Dufurrena, to issue a subpoena duces tecum to the American Quarter Horse Association including a production of documents request to ascertain:


  1. Any and/or all horses listed in the partnership – from inception, and
  2. The names of any and/or all members included as partnership since its organization along with membership date of entry as well as the partnership organizer(s), and
  3. The percentage of legal investment interest each member holds in the partnership by each ones specific monetary investment amount and what horses or embryos are included in respect to the investment fee


A cross section analysis of the three lawsuits in question, the two apparent separate and referred to “DOS CAT PARTNERS,”in two separate lawsuits, as well as the hand-written 2011 contract between the Vogel’s and Dufurrena indicate the 2011 embryo by Metallic Cat and out of Miss Ella Rey – later was born, and is alleged by court documents to be Stevie Rey Von, the NCHA Futurity Champion.


The curious nature of the researched AQHA ownership records indicates this horse was never placed in the “DOS CATS PARTNERS” name even though the Vogel’s owned a 49 percent share of a Metallic Cat X Miss Ella Rey embryo as indicated in the 2011 hand-written contract by and between Donald and Janie Vogel and Ed Dufurrena, also known as “DOS CATS PARTNERS,” as well as the later lawsuit instituted by the Vogel’s against Dufurrena and the“DOS CATS PARTNERS.”


This matter intensifies when AQHA horse registration records indicate Stevie Rey Von was placed in the name of Ed Dufurrena’s son: Brandon Dufurrena, instead of the “DOS CAT PARTNERS” on his birth date of 01/02/2012.


The horse registration records become more complicated when the horse is transferred from Brandon Dufurrena to Edward L. Dufurrena on 12/01/2015 right in the middle of the NCHA Futurity.

4-Stevie Rey Von – ownership 2018, AQHA.




However, pursuant to a filed lawsuit by the Vogel’s and a return lawsuit by Dufurrena, a settlement agreement was reached between Vogel and Dufurrena on January 28, 2018.  The agreement provides as follows with Exhibit C further complicating matters:


  1. EXHIBIT A: Donald Eugene Vogel, Janie S. Vogel and Jandon, Ltd., having paid the sum of $1,150,000 to Ed Dufurrena and Shona Dufurrena who have tendered a bill of sale to the horses Stevie Rey Von, Auspicious Cat and Creyzy Train, hereby enter into this release agreement. Each Party hereto agrees to and does release and discharge each other party.


  1. EXHIBIT B: Bill of Sale. For the sum of One Million One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($1,150,000) “Consideration” Edward L. Dufurrena, an individual, Brandon Dufurrena, an individual, and Edward L. Dufurrena, doing business as “DOS CATS PARTNERS” (collectively, “Sellers”), hereby agree to sell to Jandon, Ltd. (“Buyer”) all of Sellers’ right, title and interest, free and clear of all encumbrances, in and to the following horses:
  2. Stevie Rey Von, AQHA No. 5557563;
  3. Creyzy Train, AQHA No. 5655857, and
  4. Auspicious Cat, AQHA No. 4639993


Sellers acknowledge this sale includes rights to frozen semen of Stevie Rey Von and Auspicious Cat as provided in the Memorandum of Settlement dated January 24, 2018.


  1. EXHIBIT C: STATEMENT REGARDING HORSE OWNERSHIP HISTORY. A dispute arose among Donald Eugene Vogel, Janie S. Vogel and Jandon, Ltd, on one hand, and Edward L. Dufurrena, Shona Dufurrena, and Brandon Dufurrena, on the other hand, regarding the ownership of the horses listed below.  Donald Eugene Vogel, Janie S. Vogel, and Jandon, Ltd., acknowledge and confirm and do not dispute the AQHA records of ownership of the following horses as set forth below:


  1. Stevie Rey Von,
  2. Auspicious Cat,
  3. Creyzy Train,
  4. Ozzum Man,
  5. Whata Sneaky Cat.


As of November 12, 2012, Edward L. Dufurrena and Shona Dufurrena acquired all rights to such horses. This agreement was signed 02/7/2018 as part of the Dufurrena/Vogel settlement. Since then, the Vogels, who obtained Stevie Rey Von in the settlement, have sold him to Alvin and Becky Fults, Amarillo, Texas for $2 million. The stallion was ridden by Beau Galyean for a win at the most recent NCHA Open Super Stakes with a record score.


See article in link No. 1


This is one of the most incredulous series of lawsuits I have ever covered. It has all the makings of a Hollywood movie. However, this is a real life series of events rather than a fictional hypothesis scribed by a Hollywood writer!


The attached chart with important dates puts this story in perspective for the reader.

5-Chart of history of DOS CATS PARTNERS Lawsuits

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☛ Muscle-wasting QH disorder caused by gene mutation






By Rick Dennis
April 13, 2018

Three years ago, I authored an article entitled “AQHA Genetic Pool Shrinks” regarding the shrinking genetic pool of certain equine disciplines e.g. reining, cutting and reined cow horses. The mutation was the result of breeding Quarter Horses within a specific and shrinking gene pool. The equine disease is called HERDA (Heredity equine regional dermal asthenia), a genetic skin disease predominately found in Quarter Horses in the particular lines of cutting horses. HERDA is characterized by hyperextensible skin, scarring and severe lesions along the back and body of affected horses.

Click for HERDA article>>

 Today, another result of the shrinking genetic bloodline pool in Quarter Horses, a new gene mutation discovery has been made with Quarter Horses –  specific to the reined cow horse and reining disciplines. This gene was also identified, via, an AQHA-funded research project.One of the researchers is “Stephanie Valberg, DVM, PHD, DACMIM, ACVSMR” of the Michigan State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. This new gene classification is identified as MYH1 (Myosin Heavy Chain 1 MYH1) and explained by the following definitions published in “Genetics Home Reference – Your Guide To Understanding Genetic Conditions.”

The DNA sequence of a gene can be altered in a number of ways.Gene mutations have varying effects on health depending on where they occur and whether they alter the function of essential proteins.  The types of mutations include:

     Missense Mutation: This type of mutation is a change in one DNA base pair that results in the substitution of one amino acid for another in the protein made by a gene, and

     Nonsense Mutation: This mutation is also a change in one DNA base pair instead of substituting one amino acid for another; however, the altered DNA sequence prematurely signals the cell to stop building a protein. This type of mutation results in a shortened protein that may function improperly or not at all.

Therefore, a missense mutation in MYH1 is associated with susceptibility to immune-mediated myositis in Quarter Horses.

Click for Missense mutation article>>



According to an article appearing in “ dated March 7, 2018 – “Gene Mutation Linked To Wasting Disorder In Quarter Horses,” researchers have linked a mutation in the MYH1 gene to a muscle-wasting condition most commonly seen in Quarter Horses. Carrie Finno and her colleagues linked the missense mutation in the gene to immune mediated myositis (IMM), in which the immune system of horses attacks the skeletal muscles, causing rapid wasting of the muscle along the top line. The condition is rare in horses, but is the most common cause of rapid wasting of the top line in Paint and Quarter Horses.


The study team, writing in the journal “Skeletal Muscle,” said causes of autoimmune diseases such as IMM (immune-mediated myositis) are not well understood, but environmental stimuli, combined with a genetic predilection, appear to be important factors.


Research has shown that IMM is more likely to affect horses under 8 years old, or horses aged 17 and older. Because most horses affected by IMM are of Quarter Horse-related breeds, and since certain stallions appear to be over represented in the genetic lineage of Quarter Horses with the disorder, the researchers hypothesized that there was an underlying genetic variant that causes susceptibility to the conditions. IMM is normally treated with corticosteroids.


The study team was comprised of Carrie Finno, Giuliana Gianino, Sudeep Perumbakkam, Zoe Williams, Matthew Biordbari, Keri Gardner, Erin Burns, Sichong Peng, Sian Durward-Akhurst and Stephanie Valberg.  They are variously affiliated with the University of California, Davis; Michigan State University, and the University of Minnesota.

Click for “Horse Talk” article>>


Essentially, the cause of immune-mediated myositis (IMM), characterized by recurrent, rapid-onset muscle atrophy in Quarter Horses, is unknown. The histopathologic hallmark of IMM is lymphocytic infiltration of myofibers. The purpose of this study was to identify putative functional variants associated with equine IMM.


However, the study concluded that a mutation in MYH1 is highly associated with susceptibility to the IMM phenotype in Quarter Horse-related breeds. This is the first report of a mutation in MYH1 and the first link between a skeletal muscle myosin mutation and autoimmune disease.


Testing Result Definitions:

  1. Heterozygous – genotypes are represented by a capital letter (representing the dominant allele) and a lowercase letter (representing the recessive), such as “Rr:” or “Ss”.Alternatively, a heterozygote for gene “R” is assumed to be “Rr”.  The capital letter is usually written first. Dr. Valberg has stated that in the horses tested by him, the mutated gene was found more often in the reining and working cow horse disciplines.
  2. 21 percent of the 37 reining stallions tested heterozygous for the mutation; one was homozygous.
  3. 17 percent of the 41 working cow horse stallions tested heterozygous; none were homozygous.
  4. 16 percent of the 50 halter stallions were heterozygous. None were homozygous.

What is the difference between homozygous and heterozygous?

Humans and animals contain two copies of each gene, one from the father and one from the mother, which sometimes are referred to as the alleles of a gene. If a mutation occurs in just one copy of the gene then that individual is considered heterozygous. On the other hand if both copies of a gene are mutated then that individual is homozygous genotype.

Majority of hereditary disorders are harmful if both copies or alleles of a gene are affected, which means protein products from both genes may fail to operate properly. In such cases immediate medical attention is needed so the function of a defected protein can be restored through medication. In heterozygous genotypes one copy of the gene is healthy and can produce fine proteins thus these individuals are usually not affected and are considered just carriers. However in a few hereditary disorders heterozygous individuals may suffer from a milder version of the disease.

Testing designations:

What represented heterozygous? “Heterozygous genotypes are represented by a capital letter (representing the dominant allele) and a lower case letter (representing the recessive allele), such as “Rr” or “Ss”. Alternatively, a heterozygote for gene “R” is assumed to be “Rr”. The capital letter is usually written first.”





In the article I authored three years ago, with specific interest in the shrinking genetic pool of certain equine horse disciplines, (e.g. reining, cutting, reined cow horse, etc.), as well as the resultant genetic mutationsemerging from breeding Quarter Horses within a specific and shrinking gene pool, I talked about equine diseases emerging from a declining gene pool called HERDA or Hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia. HERDA is a genetic skin disease predominantly found in the American Quarter Horse. Within the breed, the disease is prevalent in particular lines of cutting horses. HERDA is characterized by hyperextensible skin, scarring and severe lesions along the back of affected horses.


Affected foals rarely show symptoms at birth. The condition typically occurs by the age of two, most notably when the horse is first being broke to saddle. There is no cure and the majority of diagnosed horses are euthanized because they are unable to be ridden and are inappropriate for future breeding. HERDA has an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance and affects stallions and mares in equal proportions. Research carried out in Dr. Danika Bannasch’s laboratory at the University of California, Davis, has identified the gene and mutation associated with HERDA.


The diagnostic DNA test for HERDA that has been developed allows identification of horses that are affected or that carry the specific mutation. Other skin conditions can mimic the symptoms of HERDA. The DNA test will assist veterinarians to make the correct diagnosis. For horse breeders, identification of carriers is critical for the selection of mating pairs. Breedings of carrier horses have a 25 percent chance of producing an affected foal. Breedings between normal and carrier horses will not produce a HERDA foal although 50 percent of the foals are expected to be carriers.


As a result of this American Quarter Horse Association’sfunded research, AQHA’s research team developed the 5-panel test.  The following test result designation for the HERDA gene was adopted by AQHA:

Results reported as:


N/N            Normal – horse does not have the HERDA gene.

N/HRD       Carrier – horse carries one copy of the HERDA gene.

HRD/HRD   Affected – horse has two copies of the HERDA gene.


One interesting fact of this study concluded the HERDA gene is more prevalent in the cutting horse line.In order to increase the odds of successful probability is to breed to a stallion with an N/HRD designation to a breeding mare with the N/N – Normal designation. This will afford the breeder a 50 percent probability of an unaffected foal. However, this isn’t always a certainty due to the recessive gene factor. Therefore, the only way to determine the correct breeding match-up is to 5-panel test your mare through the AQHA before breeding.



 I’ve learned that Dr. Valberg provided a presentation at the AQHA Convention recently held in Jacksonville, Florida. The AQHA Stud Book and Registration Committee referred these findings to the Executive Committee for the commission of a study. It is unclear whether or not the MYH1 mutation will be a part of the 5-panel genetic tests in the future.

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☛ Animal abusers could be registered like sex offenders 2-16-18

Posted by on Feb 16, 2018 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, RICK'S CORNER, WHO | 4 comments


By Rick Dennis
Feb. 16, 2018

Rick Dennis

In an article on Shared. com, dated May 30, 2017 – by Meg, the author alerts the general public the abuse of animals in the article “Animal Abusers Will Now Be registered Like Sex Offenders.”  Consider this a win for animals all over the country.”

Click for article>>


For every abused puppy, abandoned kitten, or medically tested bunny, this is a win. No question.  A new law is growing in popularity across the country, and it’s something everyone can agree on. A number of United States jurisdictions have implemented an animal offenders registry, which will publicly reveal the names of known animal abusers in the area, similar to how “Sex Offenders” are registered.

Currently Tennessee is the only state to have an animal offenders registry, but other cities like New York and Cook County, Illinois, have them on a local level.


The Tennessee registry is monitored by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and can be accessed at the TBI or any local county office. Each abuser will have their name, date of birth, offense, conviction date, and expiration date.

First time animal abusers will be registered for two years. An additional five years will be added for every subsequent offense after the two years. Suffolk County, located on the eastern part of Long Island, was the first in the country to develop an animal offenders registry.

“We know there is a very strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence,” said Suffolk County legislator Jon Cooper, the bill’s sponsor. “Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people.”  Convicted abusers will be made to pay a $50 registration fine. All abusers 18 or older must supply a recent photo as well as any aliases they go by. If you fail to register, you’ll face a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

The driving force behind this move is the FBI classification of “Animal Abuse Crimes” in the same felony categories assigned to offenses committed by people. In law enforcement, there are two basic crime classifications:  Offenses Against Property and Offenses Against Persons. In the United States, when a crime is committed, each law enforcement agency documenting the crime, as well as its classification, is fed into a Federal database, i.e., National Crime Information Center or (NCIC).  In turn, this commutative date is analyzed by FBI analysts for assignment and inclusion in the correct data base for statistical reporting.

Clinical psychologists have long known the direct correlation between animal abusers and the commission of a violent crime, by a specific individual, later in his or her life. The FBI used this correlation of information to establish its Criminal Profiler Division, that I attended. The FBI uses this information to teach Criminal Profiling technology and advances to date.


While studying for a Criminal Justice degree in college, a pre-requisite included two semesters of the Silverman Psychology. It was during this class that I learned the principles of “Conditioned Response” or “Classical Conditioning,” also known as “Pavlovian or Respondent Conditioning,” that refers to a learning procedure in which a biologically potent stimulus (e.g. food) is paired with a preciously neutral stimulus (e.g. a bell).

It also refers to the learning process that results from the pairing, through which the neutral stimulus comes to elicit a response (e.g. salivation that is usually similar to the one elicited by the potent stimulus).  Together with “Operant Conditioning,” “Classical Conditioning” became the foundation of behaviorism, a school of psychology which was dominant in the mid 20th-century and is still an important influence on the practice of psychological therapy and the study of animal behavior.  “Classical Conditioning” is a basic learning process and its “neural substrates” are now beginning to be understood. These same psychological principles are commonly used today in training any animal (e.g. horses, dogs, etc.).  One of the most renowned psychologist to perfect these theories is “Burrhus Frederic Skinner” or “B.F. Skinner”.  Dr. Skinner was an American psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher.


By applying this information, i.e., facts, psychological theories, and clinical practices law enforcement has moved into the arena of understanding criminality: from its most basic concepts to the most advanced criminal minds, (e.g. Serial Killers). It’s from these comparative studies that the correlation between “Animal Abusers” and “Criminality” was identified and used by law enforcement agencies to identify and advance apprehensions of violent criminal violators in today’s society.  Further these identifiable behavioral characteristics are also used in the fields of “Risk Assessment” and “Analysis.”  Also, these premises are used by private industry to justify “Background Checks” of new hires, as well as contractors – Agents or Assigns, to limit liability exposure.  As the old adage states, “What you have today, may be the prerequisite of your problem tomorrow.”


Richard Dennis graduation from a K-9 class with a successful 16-week training course completion. Photo features Rick, the law enforcement handler and his trained Police K-9 ready for street assignment..

Horses and dogs are established in history as companion and work animals, as well as their incorporation into a myriad of successful law enforcement agency applications. Horses are primarily used for crowd control while dogs (e.g. K-9’s) are used for crowd control, criminal apprehension and tracking, as well as rescue operations, illegal drugs and explosive detection. The same psychological concepts mentioned in this article are used to train these animals for human assistance.

While I was in law enforcement, my K-9 teams successfully competed in competition all over the globe, including against the notable German Polizi. I’ve taught Police K-9 training at the prestigious Lackland Air Force Base Military K-9 Training Facility in San Antonio, Texas. Further, I’ve had Police Drug K-9’s certified as an expert witnesses by the United States Supreme Court as well as winning the coveted “National Narcotics Detector Dog Association award for private industry”.

It’s these successes that made it easy for me to transition to a professional reined cow horse trainer as a profession. The principles used to train dogs and successful Police K-9 teams are the same ones used to train successful equestrian teams in the horse industry. Equally, it’s these professional experiences which enabled me to author my second book, CROSS TRAINING 101 – Reining, Cutting, Cow Horse.



It’s only a matter of time before legislatures across the United States adopt this “Animal Abuse Registry”, as they have by adopting animal abuse laws, as well as classifications (e.g. a misdemeanor or a felony). Lately, the incidents of arrests and convictions in the horse industry are becoming more prevalent, as are increased incidents of jail time being handed out.

Therefore, each trainer should be cognizant of his or her environmental surroundings, especially on show day when the audience is filled with a mixed bag of people including “animal rights activists” with instant video recording using cell phone cameras. Remember, you can instantly become a celebrity on social media or law enforcement with a click of a button. What you may consider a normal training activity may be construed as animal abuse by the unknowing. Train your horses at home and show them on show day.

Over the years, I’ve authored a myriad of articles on animal (horse) abuse which are featured in “Rick’s Corner” on including a seven part informational series. Each article has defined a specific area of abuse with horses from the professional trainer to the Federal Bureau of Land Management, including horse slaughter. They are available for free reading to the general public.

“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between The Bridle !”

Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Managing MemberOffice No: (985) 630-3500
Web Site:

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☛ The pros and cons of background checks 2-13-18



By Rick Dennis
Feb. 13, 2018

Arguably, the most often debated subject in the private sector business arena is the necessity of conducting background checks.  Most often proponents argue, “it’s a sound business principle” while opponents opt for the age ole excuse “it’s a violation of privacy.”

These two concepts have been debated through time and memorial. Each are viewed as ideologies, with only one being a clear winner in the common sense arena.  Background checks have the advantage over the “violation of privacy issue” simply due to the fact that we live in a litigation (lawsuit) and security world.

For the record, and due in-part to my law enforcement and military resume’, my life has been constantly subjected to background checks for: security clearances, law enforcement hiring, military and private security services. My typical background check includes: an annual criminal and civil records check, fingerprint evaluations, peer association including  references, education and work history verification, medical history evaluation, as well as a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) a driving records check. On occasion and depending on a Personal Detail Application (PDA) – Personal Protection engagement, I’ve been required to undergo a polygraph examination, i.e., “lie detector test.” Therefore, background checks and I are old friends – “so-to-speak.”

In an article entitled “Why Do Background Checks – The Pros and Cons” the author’s first paragraph signals the reading audience as to why “Background Checks Are A Necessity, e.g.,:  A Pre-Employment Background Check has become a matter of necessity. Too many applicants make false claims on their job applications and resumes or attempt to cover up prior criminal activity. About 40% of the background checks processed by “A Matter of Fact” turn up at least one serious discrepancy.

Yet in another “matter-of-fact” statement the author asserts the pros of employee background checks.

Why do background checks? The benefits of comprehensive employment background screening include: increased applicant and new hire quality, reduced workplace violence, reduced negligent hiring liability, reduced losses from employee dishonesty, making the right hire the first time, and avoiding negative publicity. The bottom line is that pre-employment background checks help an organization be more successful. That means greater profits to for-profit organizations and greater impact for nonprofit’s.
Click for article on background checks>> 

There’s a whole host of relevancy that can be applied to any industry, other than the ones mentioned in my background synopsis, to justify the utilization of background checks – including the horse industry. Whether it’s for an individual applying for a directorship, board of directors/member nominee, a President or other officer, trainer, or sale company owner. In my opinion, and as a matter of fact – “anyone in a position of authority, Hall of Fame members that members and kids look up to, or those who provide clinics – especially for children, or under-age minors. Also included should be anyone in a position of responsibility or acting as a fiduciary whose authority is handling thousands of dollars (in some cases millions of dollars)  should have a background check. After all, trainers and Hall of Fame members are the icons of the horse industry representing both the non-profit horse organization, a specific performance group and also the general public. It’s irresponsible for a non-profit horse organization to elevate such an individual to its highest stature position without knowing all there is to know about that individual and ending up regretting their decision later on.

It’s just plain old good common sense to represent an individual in a factual manner instead of representing an individual as a good guy when, in reality, you may know nothing or very little about that person. I’m an active proponent of implementing a rule adoption requiring any individual included on a horse non-profit’s Trainers Directory, Directorship, or Board Member is only eligible for inclusion after a thorough background check.

My advocacy of performing background checks stems from the fact that after 911, the Patriot Act was enacted whereby individuals setting foot on any dock, offshore vessel or offshore oil and gas-producing platform to collect urine for employee drug and alcohol screening for sobriety has to have a security clearance as ordered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Therefore, if the private sector contractors has to have a background check to set foot on a dock in the United States of America, shouldn’t the same sound business principle be applied to the private sector horse industry, especially for those individuals who have a major contact with the general public either by representing a specific horse nonprofit or a specific performance category during his or her endeavor?  As a Risk Analyst, it’s just good business. The cost: $50 to $500.


Normally, a typical background check previously mentioned in the above categories can easily be performed by a private investigator, a law enforcement agency, a private security agency or an individual specializing in background checks. My personal preference is to use an outside individual or agency instead of performing them myself. This relieves me of the bias theory.  Equally, I’m not an advocate of using internet background check systems simply due to the fact the information contained therein might not be accurate or it may be deficient. My own representative of choice is “Christina Robertson Legal Services of Oceano, California. (805) 801-0346 or (805) 903-3695.

Ms. Robertson states that “If you truly want a thorough background check, you must search through Open Source Intelligence Gathering (OSINT). This is where Ms. Robertson excels.

What exactly is OSINT? Open Source Intelligence is the collection and analysis of information that is gathered from public or open sources. OSINT sources can be  media, internet, public government data, professional and academic publications, commercial data and “grey” literature, which could encompass technical reports, patents, business documents, newsletters, etc.

OSINT differs from research, in that it applies the process of intelligence to create knowledge for a specific decision by a specific individual or group.

For the record, if you’re going to have a background check performed on an individual for employment, a training engagement, or any of the criteria included in this article, it’s going to require a signed “Authorization Release Form” from the individual specifically authorizing the background check and release of information, especially if it’s referencing an employment or other work engagement decision.  That’s why you see a “disclaimer” on internet search engines advertising background checks.  A prudent business practice is to have a professional conduct this type of research of information for you.


Increase Applicant And New Hire Quality:

The first benefit of background checks that most clients see is an increase in applicant quality. We often hear from our new customers that they saw an almost immediate improvement in the quality of applicants once the word got out that they were conducting thorough background checks. A complete employee screening process results in fewer applications with serious discrepancies such as criminal records or a registered sex offender status. A background check requirement also discourages applicants who are trying to hide something, increases applications from applicants who want to work in a safe environment and increases the quality of new hires due to an improved applicant pool and improved selection process

Reduce Workplace Violence:

According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, the staggering cost of violence in the workplace includes the fact that 1.75 million days of work are lost each year by victims of workplace violence. The cost in lost wages account for about $55 million per year. When less direct, but further-reaching costs are considered, such as lost productivity, legal expenses and diminished public image, the annual cost of workplace violence could measure in the billions.

An Employer’s Imperative:

Employers have a moral and legal obligation to provide a safe work environment. Therefore, knowing whether a potential employee has been involved in criminal activity such as sex crimes, drug or other substance abuse, reckless behavior, dishonesty, theft or dangerous and violent behaviors, allows the employer to determine if an applicant is appropriate for the job and work environment. It also helps the employer determine if the applicant poses a potential threat to other employees.


How Do Background Checks Help?

Prior history is a good predictor of future performance. Background checks are used by employers to identify applicants prone to unacceptable workplace behavior. Background check tools such as criminal-record checks including instances of animal abuse reports, registered sex offenders, incarceration for violent offenses,  prior employment verifications, education verification, license verifications and other research tools can reveal potential problem areas.


Protect Against Negligent Hiring Liability:
“What is Negligent Hiring Liability?” Negligent-hiring liability holds employers responsible both for what they do know and what they should have known about their employees, agents, assigns or representatives. It can even hold employers responsible for employees’ actions off the job. Courts have repeatedly affirmed that employers have a duty to exercise reasonable care in hiring individuals who, because of the nature of their employment, may pose a threat to the public.

Cost of Employee Dishonesty:

The typical organization loses 5 percent of its annual revenue to occupational fraud. The median loss caused by occupational fraud was $140,000. More than one-fifth of fraud cases caused losses of at least $1 million. Small organizations are disproportionately victimized by occupational fraud. See, ACFE: 2012 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse. Employee theft and dishonesty can also reduce production, damage public confidence, destroy employer reputation and negatively affect employee morale.

A particular case I was involved in the horse industry was litigated by criminal charges in the Gainesville, Texas, courts whereby an assistant trainer and exercise rider, “Dakota Lindsey Harrell”  was indicted and accused of accessing a client’s bank account numbers from client-provided checks paid to the trainer for services rendered. This individual was alleged to have embezzled over $500,000 over a period of years from the client’s personal bank account. The incident was resolved by the Texas Criminal Justice System. However, this is just one instance where a background check in the horse industry may have been favorable to the trainer and the client in preventing this gross theft of funds.

I performed a Risk Analysis of the incident and initiated a series of counter measures for a recovery of assets, as well as changing the client’s entire banking process to prevent a future occurrence.

Click for theft case>>

Prevalence of Employee Dishonesty:

Theft and fraud is something that employers are aware but perhaps a bit complacent. The true prevalence of these crimes is pervasive and not well known. Approximately 30 percent of employees admit to stealing from their employers. The perpetrators are not those one would expect: 41.2 percent are managers, 39 percent are employees and 19.3 percent are owners or executives.

Therefore, it’s incumbent for anyone, whether a 50(c)3 non-profit horse organization, or any other support group of the horse industry, to do all it can to protect itself from unscrupulous individuals in our society. Remember, “failing to act” after knowing something about an individual could result in a “negligence” jury verdict for the individual or company later on, due to a mishap involving that individual.



In my book I cover a myriad of security aspects applicable to the horse industry, including implementing drug testing and background checks for employers and trainer selection.  A copy can be ordered either off the internet or from my website: It’s a five-star rated book.

“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between The Bridle”

Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Managing Member
Office/Mobile: (985) 630-3500
Web Site:

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