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☛ Is today’s QH being abused in the show pen? 3-8-16

Posted by on Mar 8, 2016 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, EQUI-VOICE, FROM THE EDITOR, HEALTH AND WEALTH, HORSE ABUSE, HORSE ORGANIZATIONS, REINING NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 10 comments

From the Editor,

 

IS TODAY’S QUARTER HORSE BEING ABUSED IN THE SHOW PEN OR WORK-UP ARENA?

 

By Glory Ann Kurtz
March 8, 2016

Rugged Lark and Lynn Palm

The AQHA convention in Las Vegas, Nev., will be held March 11-14 at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. There will be AQHA Awards Presentation, AQHA Hall of Fame inductions and banquets.  There will also be a business workshop and industry town hall meeting. If you are planning on attending, I’m sure you have already got all your reservations scheduled.

 

Over the years, Carol Harris has been a staunch supporter of the AQHA and has written many articles to encourage changes that might produce relief for the horses and bring in new members.  Largely, all Carol’s suggestions along with others can be researched in AQHA’s favorite waste paper baskets.  Membership has sunk very severely and no changes as yet have been announced.

 

Because she cares, Carol was the force behind the rule that was passed that banned the use of lip chains on stallions in halter classes. However, the new rule had barely passed when, before it went into effect, the trainers objected. With the number of trainers working within the walls of the AQHA office, the rule was reviewed and an alternative  – the lip cord – was made a rule by the Executive Committee and began taking effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

 

The article approving the lip cord and the description of the rule SHW 355 was published in the February 2016 issue of the Quarter Horse Journal. Within that same article, was a paragraph saying that the Executive Committee will take a “firm stand on animal welfare for the protection of the horse and for the future of the breed.”

 

Even though Carol has been very vocal about horse abuse, especially targeting the warm-up pens at horse shows, it will be interesting to see if AQHA leadership has made any headway in the last 8-9 years for protecting their horses’ abuse at the shows.

 

I recently talked to Carol about her desire to inspire protection against AQHA’s horse abuse.  She and the 2015 Protect Them Coalition feel that nothing other than a Tornado, Missile Strike or ISIS Attack will stimulate AQHA to make any beneficial changes to ensure their horses a little relief from excessive and abusive training.

 

Carol has sent me a letter from a past prominent member of the AQHA, Gale Midwood, that she wishes to share with the AQHA leadership and membership.

 

The following letter explains how she was very active in the AQHA and showed professionally; however, she soon became “horrified she was to see Quarter Horse trainers and riders beginning to pull horse’s heads back behind the vertical and then continually jerked down. She continued that all kinds of extremely cruel and misguided methods were beginning to be used to achieve an unbalanced way of moving and incredibly these began to be the horses who were being pulled in to win blue ribbons!”

 

Following is the complete letter:

 

“Thank you Carol Harris, Rugged Lark and the entire 2015 Protect Them Coalition. You have articulated all I have said and thought for 40 years.  I started showing AQHA shows with my then husband, Bill Haggis in the late l960’s. We both came from a background involved with horses.  I remember a wonderful horse called ‘Illini Duke’ winning Western Pleasure at the first Congress in l967.  He had the most wonderful free flowing lope and trot that made us feel like we could ride him forever.

 

My husband, Bill, and I ran the first AQHA show in Rhode Island.  We hired a top judge and pulled in horses from all over the East Coast.  I went on to begin writing and eventually became editor of the Eastern Quarter Horse Journal with my husband and Tom Esler, who became one of the top Quarter Horse photographers in the business. We all began to notice many changes in the world of AQHA showing.  I eventually went back to full-time teaching equitation and training and showing Quarter Horses professionally.

 

Times continued to make changes and as a life-time rider with a foundation in dressage, I was horrified to see Quarter Horse trainers and riders beginning to pull horses heads back behind the vertical and then continually jerked down. All kinds of extremely cruel and misguided methods were beginning to be used to achieve an unbalanced way of moving.  Incredibly these began to be the horses who were being pulled in to win blue ribbons.

 

Since I, like others was unwilling to participate, I made a sad decision to leave the world of my beloved breed behind.  I was very capable of training a horse to do just about anything but was unwilling to do to horses what had to be done to win at AQHA shows. It broke my heart, so I just left.  Little did I know that things would get even worse, which ensured that my departure would be forever! I had a good clientele, and they went with me back into to world of AHSA. We had bred a few nice Quarter Horses but that stopped also!

 

It all broke my heart because I loved being a part of AQHA and had seen my entire life with Quarter Horses as forever. The big problem was I would not condone being part of the whole travesty of the constant lowering of head carriage and the artificial robot pace the AQHA shows were permitting and rewarding.

 

I sometimes wonder how many of us left rather than stayed to dance to that horrible tune of inhumane treatment inflicted on the best-natured breed in the world. I’ve worked with many types and breeds of horses and sometimes think the Quarter Horse’s wonderful calm temperament was their undoing. These poor horse’s faces with their sad eyes and dead tails remind me that today’s youth will never get to see them as they once were.

 

Thank you Carol Harris and all others for continuing to shine a spotlight of care and reason on this issue.  Shame on you American Quarter Horse leaders, trainers and judges for falling so low by IGNORING THE OBVIOUS. You have taken a beautiful versatile horse and turned it into an equine freak.

 

I’ve written countless letters and spoken to judges and Association officials, but all in vain. With Carol and all the others like us, I’d like to have hope but the slow way in which our Association moves makes me continue to cry for our horses right now and also for their future.

 

Gale Midwood
One of Original Founders of Rhode Island QHA
Past Editor of Eastern Quarter Horse Journal
Past Member of AQHA”

 

The AQHA Mission statement includes the statement: “To ensure the American Quarter Horse is treated humanely, with dignity, respect and compassion at all times.” I don’t know how many AQHA members, who believe in that portion of the AQHA Mission Statement and stand behind eliminating the abuse of the Quarter Horse in the show pen and make-up arena, will attend the convention. How can a breeder and lover of the American Quarter Horse not stand behind eliminating horse abuse in the show pen and make-up arena? Or will most of those members simply stay home?  Or worse yet, could many of those disappointed members no longer be members?

 

 

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☛ Equine Herpesvirus continues to raise its ugly head 3-3-16

Posted by on Mar 3, 2016 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, EQUI-VOICE, HEALTH AND WEALTH, HORSE HEALTH, INDUSTRY NEWS, RICK'S CORNER, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 1 comment

 

EQUINE HERPESVIRUS CONTINUES TO RAISE ITS UGLY HEAD

 

By Rick Dennis with Nena J. Winand, DVM, PhD
March 3, 2016

 

Equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) myeloencephalopathy (EHM) is a disease that has occurred sporadically in the U.S. equine population for a number of years. I distinctly remember the first time I heard of this specific syndrome in 2011. It was closely connected with an NCHA cutting (the Western Nationals) in Ogden, Utah.  Since then this disease has appeared to be progressively making a steady advancement throughout the equine community in the U.S. taking casualties along the way.  The main points to remember about this disease are that the neurologic form (EHM) is deadly and the virus is highly communicable or contagious.

 

In an article by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the syndromes caused by equine herpesviruses, their transmission and the use of vaccines are described as follows:

 

“Equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) and equine herpesvirus type 4 (EHV-4) can each infect the respiratory tract, causing disease that varies in severity from sub-clinical to severe and is characterized by fever, lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge, and a cough. Infection of the respiratory tract with EHV-1 and EHV-4 typically first occurs in foals in the first weeks or months of life, but recurrent or recrudescent clinically apparent infections are seen in weanlings, yearlings, and young horses entering training, especially when horses from different sources are commingled. Equine herpesvirus type 1 causes epidemic abortion in mares, the birth of weak nonviable foals, or a sporadic paralytic neurologic disease (equine herpesvirus myeloencephalopathy-EHM) secondary to vasculitis of the spinal cord and brain.

 

Both EHV-1 and EHV-4 spread via aerosolized secretions from infected coughing horses, by direct and indirect (fomite) contact with nasal secretions, and, in the case of EHV-1, contact with aborted fetuses, fetal fluids, and placentae associated with abortions. Like herpesviruses in other species, these viruses establish latent infection in the majority of horses, which do not show clinical signs but may experience reactivation of infection and shedding of the virus when stressed. Those epidemiologic factors seriously compromise efforts to control these diseases and explain why outbreaks of EHV-1 or EHV-4 can occur in closed populations of horses.

 

Because both viruses are endemic in most equine populations, most mature horses have developed some immunity through repeated natural exposure, thus most mature horses do not develop serious respiratory disease when they become infected but may be a source of exposure for other susceptible horses. In contrast, horses are not protected against the abortigenic or neurologic forms of the disease, even after repeated exposure, and mature horses are in fact more commonly affected by the neurologic form of the disease than are juvenile animals.

 

Recently, a genetic variant of EHV-1 has been described (defined by a single-point mutation in the DNA polymerase [DNApol] gene) that is more commonly associated with neurologic disease. This mutation results in the presence of either aspartic acid (D) or an asparagine (N) residue at position 752.  Molecular diagnostic techniques can identify EHV-1 isolates carrying these genetic markers, although currently the implications of this finding for management of EHV-1 outbreaks, or individual horses actively or latently infected with these isolates, are uncertain.

 

It is important to understand that both isolates can and do cause neurological disease. It is just more common for the D752 isolates to do so (it is estimated that 80-90 percent of neurological disease is caused by D752 isolates, and 10-20 percent by N752 isolates).

 

Experts do not currently advise any specific management procedures for horses based on which isolate they are latently infected with and it is possible that 5-10 percent of all horses normally carry the D752 form (this estimate is based on limited studies at this time). In the face of an active outbreak of EHV-1 disease, identification of a D752 isolate may be grounds for some increased concern about the risk of development of neurological disease.

 

Primary indications for use of equine herpesvirus vaccines include prevention of EHV-1-induced abortion in pregnant mares, and reduction of signs and spread of respiratory tract disease (rhinopneumonitis) in foals, weanlings, yearlings, young performance and show horses that are at high risk for exposure. Many horses do produce post-vaccinal antibodies against EHV, but the presence of those antibodies does not ensure complete protection. Consistent vaccination appears to reduce the frequency and severity of disease and limit the occurrence of abortion storms but unambiguously compelling evidence is lacking. Management of pregnant mares is of primary importance for control of abortion caused by EHV-1.

 

VACCINES:

 

Inactivated vaccines

 

A variety of inactivated vaccines are available, including those licensed only for protection against respiratory disease, which currently all contain a low antigen load, and two that are licensed for protection against both respiratory disease and abortion which contain a high antigen load. Performance of the inactivated low antigen load respiratory vaccines is variable, with some vaccines outperforming others. Performance of the inactivated high antigen load respiratory/abortion vaccines is superior, resulting in higher antibody responses and some evidence of cellular responses to vaccination. This factor may provide good reason to choose the high antigen load respiratory/abortion vaccines when the slightly higher cost is not a decision factor.

 

Modified live vaccine

 

A single manufacturer provides a licensed modified live EHV-1 vaccine.  It is indicated for the vaccination of healthy horses 3 months of age or older as an aid in preventing respiratory disease caused by equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1).

 

EHM

 

All available vaccines make no label claim to prevent the myeloencephalitic form of EHV-1 (EHM) infection. Vaccines may assist in limiting the spread of outbreaks of EHM by limiting nasal shedding EHV-1 and dissemination of infection. For this reason some experts hold the opinion that there may be an advantage to vaccinating in the face of an outbreak, but in advance of EHV-1 infection occurring in the group of horses to be vaccinated. The vaccines with the greatest ability to limit nasal shedding include the 2 high-antigen load, inactivated vaccines licensed for control of abortion (Pneumabort-K®: Pfizer; & Prodigy® Merck), a MLV vaccine (Rhinomune®, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica) and an inactivated vaccine, (Calvenza®, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica).

 

Vaccination against either EHV-1 or EHV-4 can provide partial protection against the heterologous strain; vaccines containing EHV-1 may be superior in this regard.”

 

For a review of the complete article, including vaccination schedules for various classification of horses please click the following link:

 Click for AAEP vaccination schedule>>

 

An additional source of information from the American Association of Equine Practitioners on EHV of all types, in the form of a FAQ page, can be found a the following link:

Click for AAEP Horse Health article>>

 

 

PAYSON PARK UNDER QUARANTINE FOR EQUINE HERPES

 

The most recent outbreak of the disease is highlighted in the Thoroughbred Daily News dated March 1, 2016, by T.D. Thornton. The Florida Department of Agriculture has imposed at least a 14-day quarantine on horses shipping in or out of the Payson Park Thoroughbred Training Center after a recent shipper into the facility was confirmed on Feb. 29 to have the EHV-1 strain of the equine herpes virus.

 

“It is my understanding that the affected horse has been isolated [within the Payson property],” Jennifer Meale, the communications director for the Florida Department of Agriculture, told TDN on Tuesday. “We believe that the original horse with the infection was shipped from Virginia. There were six other horses together at that time. Four of them were offloaded in South Carolina.”

 

Meale did not know the final destination of the sixth horse on that van ride. The national Equine Disease Communication Center website reported that both Virginia and South Carolina authorities have placed under quarantine the premises where those horses had loaded and unloaded.

 

“At this time we are assessing the situation,” Meale said. “We expect that it will last for at least 14 days. But until our scientists further assess the situation, we will not have specifics on the precise duration of the quarantine.”

 

Mary Gallagher, the Payson general manager, and several trainers with horses stabled at Payson told TDN it was their belief that the quarantine had been imposed for 21 days.

 

“The only thing I can tell you is that we had a positive come in on one of the horses,” Gallagher said. “I won’t discuss which horse it is. We’re under quarantine for 21 days. No horses in or out.”

 

Separate from the state-mandated quarantine, Tampa Bay Downs posted a notice on Twitter that said “no horses from Payson Park will be admitted to Tampa Bay Downs until further notice.” The Daily Racing Form reported that a similar policy is in effect at Gulfstream Park.

 

Payson, with nearly 500 stalls, a pair of one-mile dirt and turf training tracks and lush, European-style galloping trails, paddocks, and turnout areas, is located in Indiantown, about 90 minutes from both Gulf Stream and Tampa. Its motto is “Happy Horses Win,” and Forbes Magazine featured the property last year as an upscale training center in a story titled “South Florida’s Billionaire Racehorse Facility.”

 

Also, the Thoroughbred Times also release an article: EHV-1 Quarantine Updates From Coast To Coast. Click the following link for a copy of that article

Click for Quarantine Updates article>> 

 

EHV-1 Disinfectants

 

There are a number of disinfectants listed on the market as applicable to combating the disease, example:

 

Virkon S

Click for VirkonS disinfectant info>>

 

Chlorine Bleach

 

An excellent description of the use of chlorine bleach as a disinfectant is provided by an article distributed by the State of New Jersey.  Click on the following article for more information:

 

Click for simple disinfection article>>

 

 

An important consideration in selecting premises disinfectants is whether they remain active in the face of organic contaminants such as manure. Equine biosecurity is addressed in the following USDA/APHIS brochure:

 

Click for biosecurity information>>

 

 

Another good resource is a brief article provided by the Country View Veterinary Service which is simply a Q&A discussion on the disease.  I highly recommend every horse enthusiast to to familiarize him or herself with this prevalent disease.  This article answers questions often posed by owners.

 

Click on the following link for more information:

 

Click for Country View Vet website>>

 

Still another interesting article on this disease can be found in a USDA/APHIS on-line brochure.  Click on the following link for more information:

 

Click for aphis-usda brochure>>

 

Overall, the more the horse community can educate itself about this disease the more our horses can be protected against it.  In retrospect, when this disease first reared its ugly head I remember many authorities stating this was merely an isolated incident.

 

Today we know otherwise, as the horse communities in the continental U.S. have experienced a seemingly increasing number of outbreaks. In addition to the resources provided in this article, remember that your farm veterinarian and your State Veterinarian are your most direct resources for information on disease management strategies.

 

Copyright March 2016, all rights reserved

 

 

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

 

Richard E. “Rick” Dennis

Managing Member

 

Office/Mobile – (985) 630-3500

Web Site: http://www.windrivercompanyllc.com

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☛ Equine Herpes confirmed in Texas 2-19-16

Posted by on Feb 19, 2016 in BREAKING NEWS, EQUI-VOICE, HEALTH AND WEALTH, HORSE HEALTH, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

EQUINE HERPES VIRUS CONFIRMED IN TEXAS
February 19, 2016
AUSTIN, TX – The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) confirmed Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) in two horses in El Paso County.
Both horses showed signs of respiratory illness, fever and nasal discharge, when evaluated by a local veterinarian. The horses tested positive for EHV-1 but neither horse showed signs of the neurologic form of the disease. The stable has been placed under movement restriction as a precaution, and all horses are being monitored daily.
To date, 74 horses linked to Sunland Park in New Mexico have been confirmed EHV-1 positive. Only two of the 74 horses are stabled near El Paso, Texas.
Direct horse-to-horse contact is a common route of transmission of the virus. Indirect transmission is also possible and occurs when infectious materials (nasal secretions, fluids from abortions, etc.) are carried between infected and non-infected horses by people or inanimate objects such as buckets, tack, trailers etc.
Symptoms of EHV-1 include fever, which is one of the most common clinical signs and often precedes the development of other signs. Respiratory signs include coughing and nasal discharge. Neurologic signs associated with EHV-1 are highly variable, but often the hindquarters are most severely affected. Horses with EHV-1 may appear weak and uncoordinated. Urine dribbling and loss of tail tone may also be seen. Severely affected horses may become unable to rise.
It is important to remember that none of these signs are specific to EHV-1, and diagnostic testing is required to confirm EHV-1 infection. Many horses exposed to EHV-1 never develop clinical signs. If you suspect your horse has been exposed to EHV-1, contact your veterinarian.
In general, exposed horses should be isolated and have their temperatures monitored twice daily for at least 14 days after last known exposure. If an exposed horse develops a fever or other signs consistent with EHV-1, diagnostic testing may be performed.  Owners should work with their veterinary practitioner to establish appropriate monitoring and diagnostic plans for any potentially exposed horse(s).
For more information on protecting your livestock from EHV-1, contact your local TAHC regional officehttp://www.tahc.texas.gov/agency/TAHC_RegionalOfficeMap.pdf.
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☛ NCHA Champions have help from Myristol 1-21-16

Posted by on Jan 21, 2016 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HEALTH AND WEALTH, REINING NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

MYRISTOL ENDORSEES ED DUFURRENA AND LLOYD COX WALK AWAY BIG IN 2015

 Press release from Myristol
Jan. 21, 2016

To say 2015 was a record-breaking year for Team Myristol members involved in the sport of cutting is an understatement. During the National Cutting Horse Association Futurity recently held in Fort Worth, Myristol endorsee Ed Dufurrena showed that hard work and determination pay off when he and his 3-year-old stallion, Stevie Rey Von walked out of the arena during the Open Finals as Champions.

 

Stevie Rey Von put the packed house at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in awe as he competed in the Open finals among 24 of the best 3-year-old cutting horses in the country, marking a 225 and taking home a $200,000 check. A few days earlier, Ed’s daughter Rieta rode Stevie Rey Von, who was raised by the Dufurrena’s, to the Limited Non-Pro Futurity Championship. Stevie Rey Von wasn’t the only Dufurrena horse that took the spotlight during this incredible event.  Earlier in the week Purple Reyn, shown by Ed’s son Brandon was the NCHA World Finals Champion as well as being honored as the NCHA Non-Pro Horse of the Year!  Purple Reyn just happens to be a full sister to Stevie Rey Von!   We think it is safe to say that there are champion bloodlines running through this family, whether it be human or horses.

 

Earlier in the evening another Team Myristol member walked away with an unprecedented award, when Smooth Talkin Style, the horse Lloyd Cox has shown for owners Gail Holmes and Dottie Hill, was awarded 2015 NCHA Horse of the Year.  With lifetime earnings of just over $300,000, Smooth Talkin Style and Lloyd Cox won this prestigious award for their exceptional year showing as a team. Cox has NCHA lifetime earnings of over $7 million, making him one of the all-time leading NCHA Open Riders.

 

Myristol would like to congratulate both Ed and the entire Dufurrena family, as well as Lloyd and the owners of Smooth Talkin Style on their great accomplishments in 2015.  We are honored to have them as a part of the Myristol family.

 

About Myristol
Myristol Enterprises is a Texas based company manufacturing joint health support products for animals and people.  Initially, Myristol products were created to support joint health in horses and dogs, but the product line later expanded to include joint health products for cats and rabbits, as well as a human product line, known as Myristocol. In 2013 a new product was introduced for horses to support both joint and muscle health, called Myristol Pro.  At Myristol Enterprises, we continue to explore science-based options for enhanced musculoskeletal support for our companion animals and for people.  Myristol’s high quality manufacturing facility is located in Colorado.

 

For more information, contact Myristol Enterprises LLC, PO Box 157, Dennis, TX 76439 (800)525-8602 or go to info@myristol.com or www.myristol.com.

 

 

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☛ Nixall® partners up for retired racehorse project 1-16-16

Posted by on Jan 16, 2016 in BREAKING NEWS, HEALTH AND WEALTH, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

NIXALL® PARTNERS WITH TB RACING DUDES FOR RETIRED RACEHORSE PROJECT

Press Release
Jan. 16, 2016

Nixall, the leading equine health product with a natural Vet Response line, announced today they have partnered with The Thoroughbred Racing Dues to benefit the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP).  RRP is a project dedicated to the makeover of retired racehorses.

 

“Sustaining the life and health of these tremendous athletes is just a natural extension of our commitment to Animal Wellness here at Nixall®,” said Cap Briant, CEO of Nixall.

 

Nixall®, known for their natural Vet Response line, boasts rave reviews from trainers, handlers and veterinarians as well as riders and owners nationwide. Nixall® and The Racing Dudes both have an extreme passion for the equine world and are teaming up to raise money for the RRP’s efforts to help thoroughbreds find a new life after racing.

 

The Racing Dudes will be promoting Nixall’s product line to the horse racing world as the “Official horse health product of the Thoroughbred Racing Dudes“, and both companies will be providing 3% each of equine directed sales, totaling 6% back to the Retired Racehorse Project.

 

The Racing Dudes operate a nationally recognized web site that covers all aspects of Thoroughbred horse racing. www.racingdudes.com caters to horseplayers and fans of all skill levels with valuable content that includes free picks for all thoroughbred race tracks, handicapping products, news stories, race previews and a weekly podcast called “Blinkers Off”.

 

“We became interested in Nixall because the products are awesome. We are beyond excited to partner with our first horse health care company, while also supporting the Retired Racehorse Project. For us, it’s an opportunity to give back to a great cause while exposing the racing world to Nixall’s natural approach to equine health. The Retired Racehorse Project is something that is very important to not only us, but the industry as a whole,” said Racing Dude’s,  Jared Welch and Aaron Halterman.

 

 

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☛ Congress passes AHC priority bills 1-5-16

Posted by on Jan 5, 2016 in BREAKING NEWS, COW HORSE NEWS, CUTTING NEWS, HEALTH AND WEALTH, HORSE NEWS, INDUSTRY NEWS, REINING NEWS, WHO, WHAT & WHERE | 0 comments

CONGRESS PASSES AHC PRIORTY BILLS

INCLUDES “EXTENDER” DEPRECIATION BILL

Press Release from American Horse Council
Jan. 5, 2016

 The 114th Congress, though it started with the partisan gridlock that has become the new normal in Washington, ended the year with a burst of productivity by passing several major pieces of legislation including a tax extender bill, an omnibus appropriations bill, and a five year highway bill.  Each of these bills includes provisions favorable to the overall horse industry that have been priorities for the American Horse Council.

 

In addition, other bills championed by the AHC have seen Congressional action and could be passed with enough industry support in the second session of this Congress which adjourns in December.

 

“The AHC works on a diverse set of issues that impact the horse industry, often over the course of several years. For this reason it’s not every day that we see several AHC priorities pass Congress in the span of a month,” said AHC president Jay Hickey.    “These three bills included tax provisions, guest worker reforms, and trail programs that will benefit the racing, showing, and recreational segments of the industry.”

 

The Tax Extender bill, called the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, reinstates three-year-depreciation for all race horses for two more years. It also increases the Section 179 business expense deduction back to $500,000 and makes this provision permanent.  The bill restores bonus depreciation for qualifying new property, including assets used in the horse business, such as horses and other equipment, purchased and placed in service during 2015 through 2019.   The bill also restores and makes permanent favorable tax treatment for land donated for conservation purposes, particularly land donated by farmers and ranchers, like horse owners and breeders.

 

“These provisions benefit racing and everyone who is in the horse business. Importantly, horse businesses, breeders, and farms can now make long term plans to take advantage of these tax provisions instead of just hoping Congress will extend them for one year, as has been the case recently,” continued Hickey.

 

The omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the government until September 30, 2016, also includes important H-2B temporary worker changes.  The bill rolls back parts of a burdensome new H-2B rule and will make it easier for horse industry employers to use the program when no American workers can be found.

 

“Horse industry employers, mainly horse trainers and owners who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs at racetracks and horse shows, often have to turn to this program for workers. They do this because they have no choice and this program has gotten progressively more expensive and harder to use. Most H-2B workers in the industry are directly responsible for the care of the horses upon which the entire horse industry is dependent and without them thousands of American horse industry jobs could be lost,” said AHC vice president of government affairs Ben Pendergrass.

 

“We have been working on fixing the shortcomings of the H-2B program for years, both through the regulatory process, standalone legislation, and the appropriations process with a coalition of other users of the program. There is still work that needs to be done, but this bill will improve the program,” said Pendergrass.

 

The AHC says the end- of- the- year legislative sprint to the finish line also saw reauthorization of two programs important to recreational riders, the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

 

The multi-year national highway bill recently signed by the president known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or the FAST Act, reauthorizes RTP for the next five years and provides $85 million annually for the program.  RTP provides funding directly to the states for recreational trails and trail-related facilities for all recreational trail users and has greatly benefited equestrians.

 

The omnibus appropriations bill reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for three years with funding of $450 million for FY 2016. The program, which expired on October 1, 2015, provides funds and matching grants to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and water for recreation and the protection of natural resources and helps provide equestrians with increased recreational trail riding opportunities.

 

“We are very pleased RTP was included in the FAST Act. Every time a multi-year national highway bill is debated there is always an attempt to eliminate this program and this time was no different,” said Pendergrass.  “The AHC has advocated for the RTP program since its inception and grassroots support from recreational trail users, including many equestrians, played an important role in making sure RTP was included in bill.”

 

“This has been a productive legislative session for the AHC and horse industry. In addition to these important legislative victories the AHC also advanced several other important bills. The Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST Act) (S.1121/ H.R.3268) that would end the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses was re-introduced and currently has 232 co-sponsors in the House and 48 in the Senate.  Additionally, the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act (H.R. 845/S.1110) that would help improve trails on National Forests has been gaining momentum and has been called ‘the most bi-partisan bill in Congress’,” said Hickey. “We will be working on these bills and other issues that impact the entire horse industry in 2016.”

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