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☛ Muscle-wasting QH disorder caused by gene mutation

Posted by on Apr 13, 2018 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HORSE HEALTH, INDUSTRY NEWS, REINING NEWS, RICK'S CORNER, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 2 comments

MUSCLE WASTING DISORDER IN AQHA REINING AND REINED COW HORSES CAUSED BY NEWLY DISCOVERED GENE MUTATION

 

LIKE HERDA, MYH1 IS THE RESULT OF A DECLINING GENETIC POOL

 

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>>

 

WHAT IS MYH1 AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT QUARTER HORSES?

According to an article appearing in “horsetalk.co.nz 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.

Stallions:

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.”

 

 

HERDA WAS ALSO THE RESULT OF A DECLINING GENE POOL:

 

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.

 

WHAT’S NEXT FOR AQHA, YOU, YOUR HORSE AND MYH1?

 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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☛ Starving horses ate aluminum siding off of house 3-20-18

Posted by on Mar 20, 2018 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HORSE HEALTH, INDUSTRY NEWS, REINING NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

STARVING HORSES ATE ALUMINUM SIDING OFF OF HOUSE

 By Glory Ann Kurtz
Taken from article published by Daily Times
March 20, 2018

On March 17, I published an article about 25 dead horses that were found in a rural property in West County, Maryland. Now a new article has come out that has made that discovery even more gruesome.

According to a March 17 article by Susan Parker of The Daily Times, “The horses had eaten the aluminum siding off the house and the fiberglass insulation had been pulled out. The horses were so hungry they had broken the glass sliding doors on the back of the house, trying to get in and find something to eat.”

Maryland property records show that the 2.13-acre property is owned by Clayton P. and Barbara L. Pilchard. A neighbor, Marjie Cancil, said she never really got to know Barbara Pilchard and was unaware of any possible neglect of the horses. She said that sometimes the horses had gotten out and raised concerns but she had never seen an emaciated horse, never any indication of anything wrong. In fact, she said she believed hay had been regularly delivered to the farm every 10 days or so.”

Currently it is still not determined how many live horses remain on the farm; however, those horses now have three stacks of hay following a midnight call from Cancil to Aaron Balsamo, executive director of the Humane Society of Wicomico County.

According to the article, Barbara Pilchard was cooperating with the sheriff and county officials in their efforts to rescue the remaining horses. She said that the Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis said that all the live horses will be seized, starting with the mares and foals and all of them will to taken to an undisclosed location. He continued saying that they would try to keep them all together if possible.

More than 5,000 pounds of grain had been delivered to the farm Saturday morning that was donated from Bryan & Brittingham, a farm supply store in Delmar. Another donor delivered 25 bales of hay.

Horses came out of the woods and fields to push their way close enough to grab a few bites of hay. They remained and continued eating for several hours Saturday afternoon. Lewis said most of the horses had been living in the back of the property, too far to be seen from the road andß no one knew how many were there.

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☛ At least 25 horses found dead on Maryland property 3-17-18

Posted by on Mar 17, 2018 in BREAKING NEWS, HORSE ABUSE, HORSE HEALTH, HORSE NEWS, INDUSTRY NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

AT LEAST 25 DEAD HORSES FOUND ON MARYLAND PROPERTY

Published by WBOC16, Hebron, Md.
March 17, 2018

Authorities are investigating after at least 25 dead horses were found on on a rural property in West County, Md. Lt. Tim Robinson of the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office said that at around 11 a.m. Friday, the Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with Wicomico County Animal Control, began an investigation into the report of the presence of deceased horses on the property located in the 6000 block of Cherrywalk Road outside of Hebron.

 

Robinson said when they arrived on the scene, investigators located the dead horses. At this time the investigation is ongoing into what caused the deaths of these horses and how long they have been there, according to Robinson.

The observed remains were in various states of decay, Robinson noted.

Sheriff Mike Lewis told WBOC on Friday that his deputies had been called to this house on numerous occasions in the past, but never for a call or complaint this extreme.

“Not a few times. Not a dozen times.  But dozens of times over the years.  And these horses have gotten our dozens of times and they have trampled people’s flower beds and trampled their yards.  There have been several near accidents with the horses in the roadway,” Sheriff Lewis said.

Lewis added that he does not recall any calls related to the horses being malnourished or not being properly cared for.  The calls and complaints have always been about the horses getting out, according to the Sheriff.  But now that authorities have seen the condition of the horses, including the more than two dozen dead horses on the property, its possible that this investigation leads to charges.

“Absolutely.  Well certainly animal neglect, but it could be animal cruelty based on what our investigation finds out and what it concludes,” Lewis added.”

Investigators and members from animal control are expected to be at the Hebron property over the weekend.  The next step in the investigation will be removing several of the dead horses so a cause of death can be determined.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office at 410-548-4891.

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☛ To slaughter or not to slaughter 1-26-18

Posted by on Jan 26, 2018 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HORSE HEALTH, INDUSTRY NEWS, RICK'S CORNER, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 15 comments

TO SLAUGHTER OR NOT TO SLAUGHTER

 

 

A QUESTION FOR THE BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT TO ANSWER

By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Jan. 25, 2018

The year is 2018, we have a new President, our country’s compass is pointed in a new direction, and yet our government hasn’t advanced very far in fulfilling their legal obligation outlined in the “1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act,” which mandates protection and management of these animals on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service.

“Eighty four percent of Donald Trump’s voters oppose the slaughter of wild horses and a very narrow band of people are for it because they profit from it,” said “Chris Minakowski, a lobbyist and policy analyst.

To date, our government is still rounding up wild mustangs and burros – by barbaric methods, e.g., helicopter or aerial herding which causes a significant amount of animals to be injured or killed. They’re still confining approximately 45,000 animals in holding pens and tax payer dollars are still being wasted paying landowners to house, feed and care for wild horses and burros which would ordinarily care for themselves on the open range where they were born.

The main culprit for this travesty are government-subsidized ranchers using taxpayer dollars that contribute to 2 percent or less of the annual beef production of the United States of America. Annually, these government-subsidized ranchers encroach more and more on public grazing lands with cattle insertion, which increasingly diminishes the grazing lands available for the natural wildlife inhabitants, such as wild horses and burros, among other wildlife species of the herbivore or carnivore type.

How does this happen?  Cattle grazers complain to the BLM that wildlife (wild horses and burros) are encroaching on available grazing lands and request for the natural occupants to be removed to reduce the competition for available food.  However, statistics prove when wild horses and burros are removed, they are simply replaced with commercial cows and sheep.

Carnivores (meat eaters) such as bears, bobcats, coyotes, wolves and mountain lions are removed because they feed on cattle belonging to the government taxpayer-subsidized ranchers. In my opinion, this costly action accomplishes an imbalance of nature on public lands which incidentally belong to American citizens – not the cattle ranchers.

In one of my studies, I discovered, through BLM-supplied statistics, that the BLM makes more money each year from recreational vehicle slot rentals than it does on grassland grazing fees paid by government taxpayer-subsidized cattle ranchers.

In 2015, I authored an article entitled, “Horse Slaughter – Fact and Fiction”, which precisely details the acquired BLM statistics, as well as other related facts pertaining to the waste of taxpayer dollars. One of the organizations promoting the removal of wild horses and burros is identified in this article as “Protect The Harvest,” an organization owned by Forrest Lucas of Lucas Oil. Today, Mr. Lucas is promoting his business with every major 501(c) 3 horse organization by adding piles of cash to payouts. In fact, I’ve been told that “Protect The Harvest” has booths at the major equine events in order to promote Lucas’s organization. However, what Mr. Lucas fails to inform the general public is that there’s a vast majority of cattle ranchers using public grazing land that are millionaires and the vast majority of the rest are being subsidized by our tax dollars.

The real story that’s not being told is how the wild horses and burros suffer after being removed from their home rangeland and confined to holding pens and all because a minority in the cattle business dictates what happens at the BLM.  For the record, I applied to be on the board of the decision makers who decide on matters such as these and I was turned down due to my law enforcement background. Imagine that!

Click for Horse Slaughter article>>

 

HISTORY OF THE BLM:

With historical roots dating back to the earliest days of the nation, the BLM administers the lands that remain from America’s original “public domain.”  Created in 1946 through a government reorganization during the Truman Administration, the BLM is the successor to the General Land Office (established in 1812) and the U.S. Grazing Service (originally called the Division of Grazing and renamed in 1939). The Taylor Grazing Act of 1934 established the United States Grazing Service to manage the public rangelands by establishment of advisory boards that set grazing fees. In 1946 the Grazing Service was merged with the General Land Office to form the Bureau of Land Management.

Fast forward: This year, (2018) the BLM is commemorating two milestone events: It is the 72nd anniversary as an Interior Department agency, and the 42nd anniversary of the principle law defining its mission: the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 commonly referred to by its acronym FLPMA.  As the manager of more land (2.45 million acres) or one-tenth of America’s land base and more subsurface mineral estate (700 million acres) than any other government agency, the BLM carries out a dual mandate under FLPMA: that of managing public land for multiple uses (such as energy development, livestock grazing, mining, timber harvesting and outdoor recreation) while conserving natural, historical and cultural resources, such as wilderness areas, wild horses and wildlife habitat, artifacts and dinosaur fossils.  In the language of FLPMA, the BLM’s responsibility is to administer public lands “on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield” of resources.”

What this means, on a practical level, is that the BLM – except in areas specifically set aside for conservation purposes – must multitask to fulfill its duties.  Nevertheless, consistent with the BLM’s goal of good stewardship of public land resources, “multiple use” does not mean every use on every acre.

ABC NEWS ARTICLE:

A leading headline on ABC News states, “Wild horses facing slaughter after US Government proposes new regulations.”  The BLM controls one-eighth of the country’s landmass but leases over 60 percent of it to cattle ranchers. Since their livestock rely on the same resources as the wild horses do, some ranchers want the wild horses pushed off of the land entirely. There are over 45,000 wild horses in holding areas, costing taxpayers about $50 million annually.  It’s an expense that the U.S. Department of Interior sought to address in its 2018 budget by lifting regulations that prevent slaughtering wild horses. If slaughtering wild horses becomes legal, some animal rights activists are concerned that these horses will become extinct.

“The BLM, the very agency in charge of protecting them, is asking Congress for permission to kill them.”  Netherlands said. “They’ve stockpiled wild horses in holding pens….and so now what are they going to do with all the horses that they’ve stockpiled? The adoption rates are not high enough so they can’t adopt them all out. So now we have a bunch of wild horses, that the taxpayers are paying for, in holding facilities and their solution is to kill them.”

Two of the most ridiculous bureaucratic statements come from Lisa Reid of the BLM.  “There’s three things that wild hoses need: food, water, and obviously space.”

[1] “As you can see, we do have millions of acres out here but not every acre is producing viable forage for the horses. So you know, just as with any type of species, they have to be managed just so they don’t become overpopulated and diseased.”

[2] “The agency’s goal is to always have healthy rangelands, which is aided by controlling their population. They no longer have many natural predators in the wild.”

What makes these statements so ridiculous are the facts: 1), no mention as to the number of commercial cows and sheep that are grazing on the grasslands – only the estimated number of horses. 2) There is no mention of limiting the number of commercial cows and sheep, and 3) there are no predators, which upsets the balance of nature, simply due to the fact that BLM has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars to remove them!

Click for Wild Horses article>>

“A wild mustang charging across an open plain is a symbol of the untamed majesty of nature.  But the predators chasing these majestic beasts are anything but natural.

“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between The Bridle”

WIND RIVER COMPANY LLC
Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Managing Member
Office/Mobile: (985) 630-3500
Email: windrivercompany@gmal.com
Web Site: http://www.windrivercompanyllc.com

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☛ UHC announces “Operation Chip” 1-11-18

Posted by on Jan 11, 2018 in BREAKING NEWS, HEALTH AND WEALTH, HORSE HEALTH, HORSE ORGANIZATIONS, INDUSTRY NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

UHC ANNOUNCES NEW PROGRAM “OPERATION CHIP”

 

PROGRAM WILL BE AN ADDITION TO OPERATION GELDING

Jan. 11, 2018
Press release from Unwanted Horse Coalition

(Washington, DC)- Starting in 2018, the Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC) will be offering a new service to its popular Operation Gelding program called “Operation Chip.”

“The industry as a whole is moving towards microchipping as the preferred method of identification,” said UHC Director Ashley Furst. “Initially, organizations hosting Operation Gelding clinics will be eligible to apply for microchips for Operation Chip. Eventually we hope to expand the program to be able to offer rescue organizations the opportunity to apply for just the chips to be inserted into the horses in their care. Microchipping horses in rescue organizations is one of the best ways to be able to track them through the system, as well as give the industry the ability to reunite them with their owner in the case of a natural disaster.”

The UHC has partnered with MicrochipID Equine to provide the microchips for the program. The chips provided will come with a chip syringe, as well as a pre-paid registration card, and the veterinarian providing the gelding services at the clinic will be responsible for inserting the chips. “In order to ensure the horses are getting registered, the UHC will also be covering the cost of registration for each chip that is put into a horse,” said Furst. “A survey of rescues that have participated in Operation Gelding showed that only 50% of rescues are scanning horses for chips upon intake. The cost of scanners can be prohibitive for rescues, so as a result the UHC will also be providing eligible 501c3 rescues with an opportunity to apply for a deeply discounted scanner.”

The UHC is able to provide the scanners and chips to participants due to the generosity of The Right Horse Initiative. “The Right Horse Initiative is proud to support the UHC in its efforts to provide a more robust identification system in equine welfare,” said Christy Counts, President of The Right Horse. “Lack of identification is a major barrier to safe transitions for horses in this country. Providing easy access to microchipping for horse owners and horse rescues is a relatively easy and inexpensive solution to achieving our collaborative goal of providing opportunities for at-risk horses.”

Information about Operation Chip and how to apply can be found on the UHC website here: http://www.unwantedhorsecoalition.org/operation-chip/. For any questions, please contact UHC Director Ashley Furst at 202-846-1607 or afurst@horsecouncil.org

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☛ American Horse Council addresses ELD Mandate 12-4-17

Posted by on Dec 4, 2017 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HORSE HEALTH, INDUSTRY NEWS, REINING NEWS, RODEO & BULLRIDING NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

American Horse Council Efforts to Address ELD Mandate

Press Release from American Horse Council
Dec. 4, 2017
Over the past months the American Horse Council (AHC) has reached out to the equine community to determine the potential impact of the upcoming Electronic Logging Device mandate. Based on the information received, the AHC, in collaboration with the rest of the animal agriculture community, has requested that the Department of Transportation (DOT) grant a one-year enforcement delay followed by a waiver and limited exemptions from compliance with the December 18, 2017 implementation date for the Final Rule on Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and Hours of Service (HOS). Additionally, we requested that the DOT address the significant problems with the mandate that will occur if the compliance deadline is not extended. The welfare, safety, and health of the animals in transit, together with the safety of other drivers on the road, are top priorities for the equine industry and its enthusiasts.The livestock sector has consistently been one of the safest of the commercial hauling sectors. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study, conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, showed that of 1,123 accidents involving trucks hauling cargo, only five involved the transportation of livestock. Similarly, the report titled Trucks Involved in Fatal Accidents Fact-book 2005, conducted by the Transportation Research Institute, shows that livestock transporters accounted for just 0.7 percent of fatal accidents. The ELD mandate itself, which is the subject of this petition, does nothing to improve that record of safety over paper logs.While this figure is not irrelevant, and any safety improvements should be considered, the trajectory of this rule’s implementation has left much to be desired.  Despite its being issued nearly two years ago, awareness of this rule among livestock haulers and the equine industry is nearly non-existent. For instance, FMCSA’s recent change to include livestock in its interpretation of the 150-air mile exemption for agricultural commodities, a change that the industry strongly supports and appreciates, has raised many additional questions from livestock haulers who are unsure about the mechanics of the new exemption and even if it means they are exempt from the ELD mandate altogether. More time is needed to reach out to the horse industry, and ensure that industry outreach can address ELD compliance and ELD impact.

Many horse operations and competitions are in rural areas, routinely requiring long, and repeated, trips. These animals, when loaded onto trailers, are vulnerable to changes in temperature, humidity, and precipitation. Horse haulers are accustomed to managing these changing conditions through planning, log books and notations in those books. These planning techniques have adapted and evolved over decades as technology has improved. Unfortunately, the quick transition to ELDs does not allow for the natural trial and error process to adequately meet the needs of the horse industry.

The equine industry and the millions of horse fans who attend equine events rely on safe and effective methods of transportation from every corner of the United States. Domestic transit of our competition and breeding animals is critical to the business continuity of our industry and largely relies on the use of large commercial haulers. These individuals have expressed their concern with the implications of this rule in regards to the negative impacts to standards in welfare, biosecurity and cost.

We are disappointed that the FMCSA did not feel the need to reach out to the larger livestock industry stakeholders prior to finalizing this rule, but specifically for not reaching out to the equine industry considering the constant and repeated travel inherent to the competitive, coast to coast nature of our industry. While horse haulers are able to provide more accommodating shipping conditions compared to other livestock sectors, the issues we have with immediate implementation of the rule mirror those of the larger animal agriculture community.

The American Horse Council will continue to petition for an enforcement delay, to be followed by a waiver and/or limited exemptions from compliance with the final rule on ELDs, and specifically the expected Hours of Service (HOS). Additionally we will continue to take advantage of any opportunity to collaborate with FMCSA and the DOT during this delay to better meet the needs of the animal agriculture community on future regulatory efforts.

Please contact Cliff Williamson at the American Horse Council with questions or comments at 202-296-4031 or at cwilliamson@horsecouncil.org .

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