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☛ T. E. Vinci passes away on Easter Sunday 4-20-17



April 20, 2017

T. E. Vinci

“T. E.” Thomas Edward Vinci, Covington, La., passed away from cancer on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017.

Vinci, a longtime AQHA Judge, as well as a Steward, was born on Feb. 21, 1942 to Sybil de la Houssaye and Salvador “Ike” Vinci. He was a resident of Covington since 2000, although he was a native of New Orleans.

Vinci, worked with horses for over 50 years and was a judge for more than 40 years, a cutting horse competitor and most recently a steward at the All American Quarter Horse Congress and the AQHA World Show for the last several years. He was also active in his local Louisiana Quarter Horse Association.

He was married for 39 years to Jane Trimble Vinci and is also survived by his daughter, Tiffany Vinci White (Mike); two sons – James Salvador Vinci and Michael Vinci (Katy); his mother Sybil Vinci Johnson; sister – Dianne L. Vinci; two brothers – Donald W. and David L. Vinci and three grandchildren – Kaitlyn V. McGlothren, Michael “William” Vinci and Kafey Elizabeth Vinci. He was preceded in death by his father and one brother – Robert A. Vinci.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 29 at E. J. Fielding Funeral Home, 2260 W. 21st Ave., Covington, LA 70433. Visiting hours on Saturday will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Following the service everyone is invited to a Celebration of Life at the home of Mike and Tiffany White, 420 Moonraker Drive, Slidell, La 70458.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Quarter Horse Foundation, Professional Horsemens’ Crisis Fund, Catherine Meck (806) 220-3322.

You can offer your condolences or visit the Tribute Wall at

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☛ 5 horses/horsemen inducted into AQHA Hall of Fame 3-23-17

Posted by on Mar 23, 2017 in HORSE ORGANIZATIONS, INDUSTRY NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments



Press release from AQHA

March 22, 2017

“Induction into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame is the highest honor possible in our Association, and we welcome these deserving individuals into the Hall of Fame,” said Craig Huffhines, executive vice president of the American Quarter Horse Association.

The horses inducted into the Hall of Fame are the stallions Strawfly Special and Zips Chocolate Chip; the gelding Majestic Scotch; and the mares Casey’s Ladylove and Dashing Phoebe.

The horsemen are AQHA Past President Peter J. Cofrancesco III of Sparta, New Jersey; AQHA executive committee member, the late Dick Monahan of Walla Walla, Washington; Bobby D. Cox of Fort Worth, Texas; the late Marvin Barnes of Ada, Oklahoma; and trainer and horsewoman Sandra Vaughn of Hernando, Florida.

Casey’s Ladylove
The 1961 mare Casey’s Ladylove was the foundation of a barrel racing dynasty. James and Frances Loiseau of Flandreau, South Dakota, bought the mare as a 2-year-old for $720, looking for a horse their children could ride. Later, they started breeding her, selling the colts and keeping the fillies for their broodmare band that led to such barrel racing and rodeo champions as French Flash Hawk, known to barrel racers as “Bozo,” and Frenchmans Guy, a leading sire of barrel-racing horses.

Dashing Phoebe
Dashing Phoebe was a fast runner and the mother of fast runners. The 1983 sorrel mare by Dash For Cash won or placed in 15 of 20 career starts, earning $609,553 on the racetrack. She was a two-time AQHA racing champion filly, earning that honor in 1985 and 1986. She earned her AQHA Supreme Racehorse title in 1987. In 2008, she was named an AQHA Dam of Distinction after producing 15 winners, five stakes winners and the earners of nearly $2.4 million. She was bred by San Jose Cattle Co. of Rockport, Texas. She was euthanized in 2013 and buried on owner Kirk Goodfellow’s Dreams Come True Ranch near Nacogdoches, Texas.

Majestic Scotch
Majestic Scotch was born to lope in a show ring. The 1994 sorrel gelding won 10 world championships in western riding and western pleasure and seven reserve world championships in those classes plus showmanship. Majestic Scotch was bred by Donald and Jean Bangasser of Ackley, Iowa, and was owned by Sharnai Thompson of Pilot Point, Texas. He was shown in classes from halter to hunt seat equitation to trail. He earned a youth AQHA Supreme Champion award and 13 Superiors. He retired from competition in 2012. He was euthanized in 2013, the same year he was inducted into the National Snaffle Bit Association Hall of Fame.

Strawfly Special
Racing stallion Strawfly Special sired two winners of the All American Futurity, Streakin Flyer and Ausual Suspect. The 1987 stallion by Special Effort was bred by Dan and Jolene Urschel of Canadian, Texas, and was owned by Double Bar S Ranch of Moreno Valley, California. Strawfly Special’s offspring earned more than $25 million on the racetrack, and his gelded son, Tailor Fit, was racing world champion in 1999 and 2001. Strawfly Special died in 2004.

Zips Chocolate Chip
Zips Chocolate Chip was a leading sire of award-winning western pleasure horses. The 1985 bay stallion was by Zippo Pine Bar and out of the Custus Jaguar mare Fancy Blue Chip. After a short career in the show ring, earning $18,000 in western pleasure futurities, Zips Chocolate Chip moved to the breeding barn. He was a sire of AQHA and National Snaffle Bit Association champions. He was a model for a Breyer horse. After his breeding career was over, he retired to owner-breeder Ann Myers’ farm. He was euthanized in 2015 due to complications of old age.

Marvin Barnes
The late Marvin Barnes of Ada, Oklahoma, was the owner and trainer of Mr Master Bug, a Supreme racehorse and winner of the All American Futurity, and FL Lady Bug, an American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame inductee. The 50-year cumulative breeder and his late wife, Lela, were fixtures in Oklahoma Quarter Horse racing for more than 50 years. Marvin bred the earners of more than $3.9 million on the track and two world champion horses who earned seven world championships.

Peter J. Cofrancesco III 
Peter J. Cofrancesco III of Sparta, New Jersey, was the first president of the American Quarter Horse Youth Association to become president of AQHA. Cofrancesco grew up showing horses with his family in many aspects of AQHA competition, later specializing in halter. He was elected to the AQHA Executive Committee in 2008 and served as president in 2011-12, focusing on youth involvement.

Bobby D. Cox
An owner and 30-year breeder of American Quarter Horse racehorses, Bobby D. Cox of Fort Worth, Texas, bought his first racehorse in 1976. His homebred mare, All About Ease, won the Ruidoso Futurity in 2004, the same year his homebred stallion, Brimmerton, won the Rainbow Derby and the All American Derby. In 2007, Cox’s homebred Dont Let Down won the All American Derby. In all, horses Cox bred have earned $20 million on the track. Horses Cox has owned have earned $16 million on the racetrack.

Dick Monahan
Racehorse owner and breeder Dick Monahan of Walla Walla, Washington, bought his first race-bred yearlings in 1969. He and his wife, Brenda, raised and raced American Quarter Horses for more than 30 years. He was elected as an AQHA director in 1985. At the time of his death in 2009, Monahan was serving on the AQHA Executive Committee.

Sandra Vaughn
Judge, breeder and AQHA Professional Horsewoman Sandra Vaughn of Hernando, Florida, became a professional trainer at age 19. She has trained horses to multiple champion titles and has ridden horses to seven world championships and 11 reserve world championships. In 2003, she was part of the team that helped Movin Artfully become the Farnam Superhorse. In 1995, the first year the award was given, Vaughn was named the Professional Horsewoman of the Year. She served as an AQHA director from 2006 to 2013.

About the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame
The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum beautifully showcases the hundreds of horses and people who have earned the distinction of becoming part of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame. To be a part of the Hall of Fame, horses and people must have been outstanding over a period of years in a variety of categories. Inductees are those who have brought exceptional visibility and/or contribution to the American Quarter Horse. Hall of Fame inductees are chosen each year by a selection committee and honored at the annual AQHA Convention.

For more information on the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum, visit

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☛ AQHA Executive Committee named 3-23-17

Posted by on Mar 23, 2017 in EQUI-VOICE, HORSE ORGANIZATIONS, INDUSTRY NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments


Release from AQHA
March 22, 2017

AQHA Executive Committee for 2017-2018

The American Quarter Horse Association Executive Committee was elected at the 2017 AQHA Convention in San Antonio. Though AQHA operates primarily upon the decisions of its members through the board of directors, the five-person Executive Committee is responsible for implementing these important decisions and governing AQHA between the annual meetings of the membership and the board.

The AQHA Executive Committee – consisting of a president, first vice president, second vice president and two additional members – is elected each year by the board at the convention. Each member serves a term of one year until the selection of his/her successor. The Executive Committee convenes quarterly at AQHA Headquarters in Amarillo to conduct business and consider all disciplinary matters.

President Ralph Seekins 

Ralph Seekins of Fairbanks, Alaska, has been an AQHA director since 2006 for Washington/Alaska and was elevated to director emeritus in 2016. Seekins has served on the AQHA Marketing and Membership Committee, the Foundation Council and the AQHA Public Policy Committee. Seekins has owned American Quarter Horses since 1995, when his daughters convinced him and his wife, Connie, that they really needed horses. His early horse years were spent in Wyoming and Montana and included ranch work and sprint racing. The family’s first two American Quarter Horses were home-trained and went on to earn AQHA Open Champion titles, Youth Champion titles, Youth Supreme Champion titles and one Youth Versatility award. Over the years, the Seekins family has raised and trained horses that have earned nine AQHA Champion titles, three AQHA Supreme Champion titles and two versatility awards. For more than 15 years, the Seekins family has used their American Quarter Horses in the Helping Hooves therapeutic riding program for riders with disabilities. Ralph and Connie have four children – two sons and two daughters. All the children and their families live in Fairbanks. Aaron Seekins has four sons – Austin, Brandon, Gabe and Zachary – along with one daughter, Shelby. Ben Seekins and his wife, Tamie, have sons Christian and Caleb and daughter Larissa. Daughter Andrea and her husband, Ryan Reinheller, have twin boys, Jakan and Logan, as well as three daughters, Rebecca, Tricia and Sarah. Daughter Beth and her husband, Paul Austin, have three daughters – Emma, Leah and Madison – and son Isaac.

First Vice President Dr. Jim Heird

Dr. Jim Heird was an AQHA director for Colorado in 2009 and became a director for Texas in 2011. He has served on the judges, international and show committees, and on the show council and AQHA Animal Welfare Commission. Dr. Heird was the chairman of the judges committee, 1989-1991; show committee, 2008-2010; international committee, 2013-2015; show council, 2008-2011; and the Animal Welfare Commission, 2011-2015. He was the former extension horse specialist at North Carolina State University, a former instructor/professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and held various dean/director positions at Colorado State University for the colleges of agricultural sciences and business and equine sciences program. Dr. Heird is currently executive professor and coordinator of equine initiatives at Texas A&M University. He also holds the Dr. Glenn Blodgett Equine Chair at Texas A&M. Dr. Heird was on the executive committee of the National Western Stock Show and is an ex-officio director of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Dr. Heird is an honorary vice president of the Uruguayan and Argentine Quarter Horse associations. He was an AQHA judge from 1977 to 2015 and has judged 13 AQHA World Championship shows, multiple international championships and two National Reining Horse Association futurities.

He obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee and has a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University. He and his wife, Dr. Eleanor Green, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M, live in College Station.

Second Vice President Stan Weaver
Stan Weaver of Big Sandy, Montana, has been an AQHA director since 2011. He is a former member of the studbook and registration, public policy and Hall of Fame selection committees; Foundation, marketing and ranching councils; and served as chairman of the ranching council. He was also instrumental in developing the AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeders program.

Weaver has bred American Quarter Horses for more than 30 years and has registered more than 1,500 foals with AQHA during that time.

Weaver and his wife, Nancy, began a Quarter Horse production sale in 1996 under Weaver Quarter Horses. Through the production sale, horses from the Weaver Ranch have sold to all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces, South Africa, Australia, Germany and Mexico. Weaver has shown his own horses in cutting, reined cow horse and working cow horse. Weaver is involved with the Montana Quarter Horse Association (past president), Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame, Montana Land & Mineral Owners Association, National Cattleman’s Beef Association, Montana Stockgrowers and the Chouteau County Livestock Protection Association.

Weaver has owned and operated Weaver Cattle Co., a cattle and farming enterprise in North Central Montana for the past 40 years. He also owns and operates Weaver Order Buying, a cattle brokerage firm. Stan and Nancy raised three children on the ranch. All three children and their families continue to work on the ranch, but have also expanded their own ranching and farming interests in the area. KellyAnne and husband Casey Terry have two children, Wyatt and Avery, and live in Lewistown, Montana; David Weaver and wife Stacey live in Bozeman, Montana, with their two children, Hailey and Wesley; and Daniel Weaver, who also lives in Big Sandy, is engaged to Dr. Danielle Lindland. The Weavers received the 1997 Montana Quarter Horse Association Ranch of the Year Award, and Weaver Cattle Co. was recognized as the 2014 Montana State University Family Business of the Year in the business category for operations in existence at least 50 years.


Member Butch Wise 

Butch Wise of El Reno, Oklahoma, was named an honorary AQHA vice president in 2015. He was an AQHA director from 2001 to 2015.

He currently serves as the Executive Committee representative on the racing council. Wise is a former member of the studbook and registration, nominations and credentials, and racing committees, and the racing council. He was the chairman of the Hall of Fame committee from 2013 to 2015 and also served as chairman of the racing council. In 2014, he was a member of the AQHA Governance Task Force.

In 2004, Wise received the Oklahoma State University Animal Science School Graduate of Distinction award, and in 2007, he received the AQHA Racing Council Special Recognition Award.

He is a member of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse and Florida Quarter Horse racing associations. Wise owns Stone Chase Stables LLC and is the bloodstock agent and president of Wise Sales Co. Inc. His former career experience includes employment with AQHA, Ridgeleigh Farms Inc., Mel Hatley Farms and Cox Manufacturing. He is currently the manager of the Lazy E Ranch LLC in Guthrie, Oklahoma.

Butch and his wife, Nancy, have two sons and two daughters. Their sons are Clay and Parker Wise, and daughters are Mallory Wise and Ashlie Blair. Blair and her husband, Shawn, have two children, Derek and Lacie.

Member Norm Luba
Norm Luba of Louisville, Kentucky, has been an AQHA life member since 1995 and an AQHA director since 2011. He has served on the AQHA Stud Book and Registration Committee for the past three years. Luba has served on the AQHA Public Policy Committee and the affiliate council.

Luba graduated with his master’s degree in reproductive physiology from the University of Maryland. The former executive director of the Kentucky Horse Council is currently the executive director of the North American Equine Ranching Information Council, president of the Equine Breeding Research and Development Council, and the treasurer of the Animal Welfare Council Inc.

He is the recipient of the Don Henneke Education Impact Award and the American Youth Horse Council Distinguished Service Award.

Luba is an avid competitor with numerous qualifications in trail for the AQHA Select World Championship Show, presented by Adequan® (polysulfated glycosaminoglycan), and the Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show, as well as a Superior trail horse achievement. He is a member of the National Snaffle Bit Association, Equine Science Society, Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club and the Kentucky Quarter Horse Association, where he also served as president.

Norm and his wife, Dr. Lorraine Luba, a veterinarian, have two sons – Christopher and Colin, a former AQHYA president who is married to Catherine.

Read more convention coverage, brought to you by The American Quarter Horse Journal, at


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☛ NCHA has opening for CFO 2-17-17



Feb. 17, 2017

The NCHA is advertising for a Chief Financial Officer, who will be responsible for directing the organization’s financial planning and accounting practices. Additionally, this position manages the administrative and business management functions of the Association Headquarters.

The new CFO’s duties and responsibilities will include: to focus on process improvement and business enhancements. Responsible for all internal business processes and procedures; Oversee and direct budgeting, audit, tax, accounting, purchasing, real estate, long-range forecasting, and insurance activities for the organization; direct the Controller in providing and directing procedures and computer application systems necessary to maintain proper records and to afford adequate accounting controls and services; appraises the organization’s financial position and issues scheduled reports on the organization’s financial stability, liquidity, and growth; manage and direct Human Resources Department, including overseeing employee evaluations and payroll; coordinate tax reporting for both the Association and the Foundation; analyze, consolidate and direct all cost accounting procedures together with other statistical and routine reports for formal presentation to the NCHA Board of Directors and Association general membership; oversee and direct the preparation and issuance of the corporation’s annual report; direct and analyze studies of general economic, business, and financial conditions and their impact on the organization’s policies and operations and analyze operational issues impacting functional groups and the whole institution and determine their financial impact and have the ability to evaluate department silos and look for efficiencies in practice.

The requirements for the position include being able to present financial information to small and large groups (i.e.) Executive Committee, various committees, members, employees and general membership; be proficient in technology development trends and the importance of strategic software development. Experience in both 501.c.5 and 501.c.3 non-profit associations beneficial.

Equine association background is also beneficial. Must be proficient with business computing and financial reporting systems as well as Microsoft Office including Word, Excel and Access.

Education and Experience must be a Bachelors or higher degree in Accounting or Finance; a strong understanding of accounting theory; five-plus years accounting/finance experience; CPA a plus but not required.

Other skills and abilities include the ability to foster and cultivate business opportunities and partnerships. Must have strong interpersonal skills to support leadership, management, negotiation and problem-solving functions of this role.

Excellent judgement and discretion; ability to handle multiple priorities simultaneously, meet deadlines, and handle work-related stress is required.

Friendly, courteous, service-oriented, professional, outgoing, and customer service oriented. Remain calm and professional in stressful situations. Detail oriented while maintaining an extremely positive attitude. Must be able to work independently and productively with minimum supervision. Recognize problems, identify possible causes and resolve routine problems.

Team player with a “can-do” attitude that can work in a fast-paced environment. Ability to establish and maintain professional atmosphere for employees, clients, and customers.

Other qualifications include: Knowledge of laws, regulations, and rules governing work requirements for nonprofit organizations; organizational development, human resources, and operations.

The application procedure is to send a resume and cover letter to

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☛ Elite Rodeo to skip 2017 season 1-25-17




Reprint from Tri-State Livestock News
Jan. 25, 2017

After its inaugural year, the Elite Rodeo Association is canceling its rodeos for the 2017 season.

ERA interim president Bobby Mote told the Bend, Oregon newspaper The Bulletin that the association is “making a lot of plans and changes that will start in 2018.” This year (2017) will be devoted to planning and preparation for that, he said.

The ERA is based out of Texas. Shortly after the group’s inception in the fall of 2015, the PRCA approved a bylaw stating that its members could not have financial interest in another rodeo association. The ERA, whose shareholders included such big PRCA names as Mote, Kaycee Feild, Trevor Brazile, Tuf Cooper, and others, started to lose members last summer, as cowboys jumped ship to compete at PRCA rodeos.

By the end of last year, it was reported that 43 ERA members had turned in their shares and purchased their PRCA memberships, including world champion saddle bronc rider Zeke Thurston and all-around champion Junior Nogueira.

The news isn’t surprising, as the ERA canceled its final three rodeos last year – St. Louis, Atlanta, and New Orleans, and cut their finals from five to three performances.

Stock contractor Sparky Dreesen, who provides bucking horses and bulls to PRCA events and did so for some ERA rodeos last year, said the ERA wasn’t a bad idea in itself but getting it off the ground would take a lot of money. “It was a good concept, but I don’t know if they’ll ever get anybody who has enough money to get the fans educated, to know the difference” (between ERA rodeos and PRCA rodeos.) Dreesen owns J Bar J Rodeo Co. in Circle, Mont.

The lawsuit between the two organizations didn’t help, he believes. “It turned into a fight between the PRCA and the ERA, and if it wouldn’t have happened that way, it might have had a different outcome.”

Almost all of the ERA rodeos were new events put on by the ERA board, instead of being hosted by a local community organization, which is how most PRCA rodeos are produced, and that was a downfall for the ERA, Dreesen believes. “You look at what those (volunteer) committees do. Most of the time, the places we go, the committee is all volunteer. And how do you duplicate the passion a volunteer has? You just can’t duplicate that in a paid position. I think that’s a piece that everybody, myself included, we all take for granted.”

Tyler Corrington, a saddle bronc rider from Hastings, Minn., competed in ERA rodeos but was not a shareholder. He thinks the ERA did some good for rodeo in general. “Change always spices things up, and there’s nothing wrong with spicing things up. (Rodeo) has been the same forever and maybe some good will come from” the ERA, he said. Corrington, a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier, competed at the ERA finals last fall.

Competition between the two rodeo associations was a good thing, Dreesen says. “The ERA did make the PRCA a better organization. It made us all look at hey, we can maybe do some things different, and that’s not all bad. It’s like anything. Change isn’t always good, but if it’s for the right reason, it’s good.”

Corrington says doing something differently goes along with cowboy history, and the ERA members who have returned to the PRCA shouldn’t be treated negatively. “They stepped out to start something new that didn’t work out. It’s just like the Turtles (the group of cowboys who formed the first pro rodeo association called the Cowboys Turtle Association in 1936) did. It’s like somebody made a bad investment that they believed in, and it didn’t work. They have to go back to work.”

Calls and messages to the ERA publicity personnel were not immediately returned.


Editor’s Note: Tuf Cooper, one of the original founders of the ERA has obviously returned to the PRCA as he is leading the average of the roping at the Fort Worth Stock Show, which is going on as this article is being published.

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☛ The dark world of horse slaughter 1-7-17



By Robin Fowler
Jan. 7, 2017

A shipment of 40 Appaloosas of all ages kept Grenwood Stables and Equine rescue in Kansas busy in November; however, all found new homes in a week’s time. Many were registered horses.

It was the truckload of foundation-bred Appaloosa horses that sent Kansas horse slaughter rescuers into a panic during one week in November. Some 40 Appaloosas, many of them registered, had been trucked to a Peabody, Kansas, kill pen near Greenwood Stables and Equine Rescue.

There, and at other kill lots across the country, horses may have only a few days – in some cases only a few hours — to appeal to potential rescuers and be saved. Those who can’t find homes will be packed into another truck and sent to Mexico to their deaths, their carcasses butchered for dinner tables overseas.

Amazingly, all of these Appaloosas were adopted. That week, for the first time, the slaughter trucks from Peabody were canceled.

How did this band of Appaloosas get into this predicament? It was through no fault of their own. Their breeder had moved to a retirement home and his horses were sent to a kill buyer. Amy Bayes, founder of the Greenwood nonprofit, says that kind of thing happens more often than one would think.

Horse slaughter is illegal in the United States but horses can be transported from the United States. to slaughter in other countries, usually Canada or Mexico. Horses must be able to bear weight on four limbs and walk unassisted. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they cannot be blind in both eyes, under six months of age or pregnant and likely to foal during the trip. But rules can be open to interpretation. For example, some mares are so emaciated by former owners that kill buyers can say, truthfully, that they didn’t know the horse was pregnant.

In late December 2014, the European Union banned the importation of horse meat and meat products from Mexico, in part because of inhumane treatment of slaughter-bound horses during the trip from kill pens in the United States to slaughterhouses in Mexico. Yet the demand for horsemeat continues, and prices per pound remain high.

This Wyoming weanling filly’s wobbly legs may have been the reason she ended up in a Kansas kill pen, but a veterinarian determined that a good diet and regular trims could do wonders for this well-traveled baby. she found a home in Texas with three young children.

Pure and simple, the mission of Greenwood Stables and Equine Rescue, and others like it, is to intercept horses bound for slaughter. Bayes endeavors to save 10 to 20 of the 60 to 120 horses in the Peabody kill pens every week with the help of a few volunteers and the 13,500 friends of her Facebook page.

The price of an average-sized slaughter-bound horse at Greenwood is $650, approximately what the kill buyer would receive for the horse at the slaughter facilities in Mexico. Average price paid at slaughter is 65 cents per pound, according to Bayes. Young, healthy horses can bring more, older injured or sick horses less.

The kill buyer comes out ahead on horses that Bayes sells because he doesn’t have to pay transport to Mexico. Some kill buyers elsewhere charge more: $850-$950 on Facebook pages operated by rescue groups around the country. Prices set by kill buyers usually are not negotiable.

“I have the worst job in the world,” Bayes recently wrote in a Facebook post. “I have to go to the kill pens and decide who lives and who dies.”

It is a mission that is heartrending on a daily basis but Bayes must choose the horses most likely to capture the attention of potential adopters willing to pay their “bail” and take them home. Less likely to find homes are unhandled youngsters and horses that are old, sick, injured or underweight. Stallions are less likely to find new homes than mares, and all horses have a better chance to be saved if broke to ride or registered with a breed association, according to Bayes. Most horses that wind up in kill pens come directly from auctions where bids are low.

Bayes claims that recipient mares are among those at risk. Young mares often initially escape slaughter because they are in demand as recipient mares destined to carry the foals of high-dollar show mares and stallions. It’s a job that prolongs their lives for a few years, but as they age and become reproductively challenged, many eventually are shipped to slaughter as early as age 12.

Greenwood helps its supporters buy horses from a local kill buyer and allows them to make donations toward the bail of slaughter-bound horses that they can’t adopt personally. If the donation campaign is successful, the horse is given to the rescue if space is available and is offered for adoption. But Greenwood does not give free horses to would-be adopters.

“We have found that if a person doesn’t have ‘skin in the game,’ they are more likely not to care for the horse,” Bayes says. “No one wants to see the horses return to a kill pen.”

“None deserves its fate,” Bayes says of horses that do not attract a new owner and are loaded into the Mexico-bound trucks for slaughter.

Some horses simply slip through the cracks. In mid-December, an 18-year-old Thoroughbred stallion that had been donated by its elderly owner to Texas A&M University – Commerce (TAMUC) was discovered at the small Red River Horse Sale north of Bonham, Texas. Luckily for Tricky Prospect, Texas rescuers had learned the stallion would be in the sale and outbid kill buyers to pay the meager purchase price of $385. As if the winning bid wasn’t a clue, TAMUC, that is known for its equestrian program, said through a spokesman that it had been unaware kill buyers might be among bidders.

Horses donated to church camps also can find themselves in dire straits. Many camps acquire horses every spring and then send them to kill pens in the fall so they don’t have to feed horses over the winter. The practice happens so often that entire rescue groups are devoted solely to saving camp horses – some of which are donated by owners who have no idea what is about to happen to their longtime equine companions.

Bayes, a fulltime professional librarian, and her daughter Saje operate Greenwood with the help of a few volunteers and equine professionals, including vets, farriers and haulers who provide services at a discount. She also has support from her community residents who donate hay and used equipment. Bayes has reservations about working alongside kill buyers but realizes she can save more horses if she does. Her disdain, though, mainly is targeted toward horse owners who sell to kill buyers.

But Bayes can’t afford to ruminate long on week-to-week successes and failures, because there’s always another truckload on the way. Little more than a week after she found new owners for the 40 Appaloosas, a truckload of trained kid-proof horses arrived from a church camp. There’s no word as to what the church tells its children when asked about the whereabouts of last summer’s missing favorites.

Robin Fowler is a freelance writer in Weatherford, TX, whose personal herd ranges from a BLM Mustang to an AQHA World Champion. She recently acquired two weanling fillies that did time in kill pens before they were saved.


The Need for Equine Rescue

Kill pens have no monopoly on rescue issues when it comes to horses but needs wax and wane over the years. An example is the plight of the Premarin mares.

At its peak more than a decade ago, some 400 farms in the United States and Canada utilized more than 50,000 horses in the manufacture of the Pfizer drug Premarin that is derived from the urine of pregnant mares and used in human hormone therapy. The mares were kept constantly pregnant and made to stand for six months at a time in small stalls where they could move only a few inches in any direction. They and their foals often were sent to slaughter once their usefulness to Pfizer ended.

Since then the manufacture of Premarin primarily has moved overseas to China and other countries where animal welfare laws are lax. When many of the Premarin ranches in North America lost their contracts, rescue groups geared up to find homes for the mares and their foals. Many of those rescuers found the demise of Premarin farms bittersweet when they were replaced by farms on another continent.

There still are about 3,500 Premarin mares on ranches in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, says Jennifer Kunz, director of operations at Duchess Sanctuary south of Eugene, Ore., founded in 2008. The 1,120-acre sanctuary, operated by The Fund for Animals affiliated with The Humane Society of the United States, is home to about 75 Premarin mares and 40 offspring of mares who arrived in foal, as well as mustangs and other horses rescued from slaughter. The sanctuary’s horses have arrived at their “forever home” and are not available for adoption, Kunz says.

But even though the number of Premarin mares has been greatly reduced in North America, there are always other issues to take their place. Among them:

* Nurse mare foals: Last Chance Corral is a rescue organization in Athens, OH, devoted to nurse mare foals whose dams were bred to provide nourishment to Thoroughbred race prospects. Of the foals actually born to nurse mares, fillies sometimes are raised to become future nurse mares, but abandoned colts may be left to die of malnourishment. Last Chance Corral rescues 150 to 200 foals a year.

* Abuse: Blaze’s Tribute Equine in Jones, Okla., is a nonprofit devoted to neglected, starved and abused horses, with a primary focus on animal cruelty cases. Rescue personnel often are called to help with cases handled by the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare staff. More than 1,300 horses have been rescued by Blaze’s Tribute since 2002 and most have been returned to health and rehomed.

Tips for Potential Buyers

Saje Bayes hugs a kill-penhorse with a ssevere leg injury that could not be repaired by veterinarians. Greenwood Stables and equine Rescue bought the mare and humanely euthanized her so she did not have to make the 30-hour trip to a Mexican slaughterhouse.

Disposing of unwanted horses is an old problem that needs new solutions, says Cie Sadeghy at Oklahoma’s Caring and Sharing rescue group.

“It’s done in an old-fashioned way. Somebody needs to figure out a new way,” she says.

For those considering horse rescue, these are among tips recommended by rescue groups and equine professionals.

  • “Please do not spend your grocery or bill money to save these horses. Just use your Starbucks funds,” advises Sadeghy, whose rescue group was among the first to target kill pen horses. Although not a 501(c)3 nonprofit charity, Sadeghy’s Facebook group commands more than 22,500 supporters.
  • Kill pens are riddled with diseases. Purchasers should expect horses that have been housed in kill pens to get sick and budget appropriately for veterinary care, says Amy Bayes with Greenwood Stables and Equine Rescue in Kansas, a charity whose 501(c)3 designation allows it to accept tax-deductible contributions. Rescue organizations often can offer advice as to reasonably priced quarantine facilities or provide quarantine themselves.
  • Rescue groups also may be able to recommend vets, farriers and haulers who offer discounts to buyers of their horses. Because of the high incidence of illness in the kill pens, make sure the hauler disinfects his rig between trips and won’t be hauling dirty.
  • If you adopt directly from a rescue organization rather than a kill buyer, your new horse is more likely already quarantined, vetted and current on shots and may even cost less. Some rescue contracts require adopters to return the horse rather than resell it if they can no longer keep it. That clause is designed to make sure the horse never again ends up in a kill pen regardless of its owner’s circumstances, according to Bayes. However, buying directly from a kill buyer carries with it no-strings ownership and the immediacy of saving a life otherwise destined to end in Mexico.
  • Your rescue horse is unlikely to be accompanied by Coggins results or a health certificate and you will be responsible for arranging for necessary paperwork before you transport the horse.
  • If the ability to make tax-deductable donations is important to you, make sure the rescue organization you are dealing with is an accredited 501(c)3 charity and has a track record.
  • If you want to help but can’t afford to adopt a horse or don’t have a place to keep one, consider making donations toward the purchase price of specific horses that you would rescue if you could. Even small donations that lower the price may make it easier for someone else to adopt the horse and save its life.
  • Be prepared for special needs. Some rescue horses are painfully thin, for example. For persons rescuing underweight horses, Sadeghy recommends senior feeds and warns that worming emaciated horses can lead to colic. Instead, wait for a 50- to 100-pound weight gain, she suggests.


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