From September 23-26, the American Horse Council held its annual convention in Washington, D.C. Attendees came from all over the country and represented almost every equine interest, including breed associations, race tracks, animal welfare specialists, veterinarian groups, farrier groups, etc. Also included were the state horse councils and their representatives. During an all-day meeting, the state councils gave presentations on equine activities in 22 states. The state councils are very active and space does not permit coverage of each. However, here are some highlights from their reports:
Colorado: Early this summer, two fires erupted along the front range of Colorado. In Jefferson County, a highly populated region, horse owners were particularly affected. Through the efforts of the Jefferson County Horse Council, the Colorado Horse Council (CoHoCo) and the Colorado Horse Development Authority (CHDA), a receiving/triage unit was set up at the county fairgrounds. Volunteer veterinarians, stable crews and office volunteers took care of more than 200 horses, 50 head of cattle, and goats, rabbits, a pig and a peacock. Because of these fires, the CHDA created an emergency fund with private contributions. The $30,000 raised to date are available to victims of natural disasters and are to be used for building materials, medical supplies and treatment, and feed.
This past September, the CHDA participated in a livestock training workshop for animal control officers designed to give urban law enforcement agents elementary information about livestock. A video addressing euthanasia was also shown.
In addition, the horse council worked on creating Adopt-a-Trail brochures, a stallion confinement brochure and a brochure outlining the voter participation in developing Colorado law and its effects on the horse industry.
Connecticut: This horse council was formed in 1969 in response to a law proposed by the Humane Society wherein bits and crops were going to be outlawed. Since then, the state horse council has developed a state directory, participated in legislation affecting the horse industry, and worked on sound equine management practices.
Florida: This past year, the Florida state horse council sponsored the Millennium Ride, a 75-mile trail ride. The council is also battling the Florida Forever program, which is a government-sponsored buy-out of lands and which, according to the council, threatens many of the state’s trails.
The council also developed an evacuation site at www.sshc.org.
Georgia: The Georgia Horse Council (GHC) organized its own Millennial trail event, called “Sherman’s March to the Sea,” which is being held each weekend starting this past September and running through December 2001.
GHC also held its second annual horse fair, with over 2,500 attendees and 40 vendors at the Georgia National Fairgrounds.
Lastly, the horse council began providing excess equine liability insurance to individual and family memberships through Saddle Partners of America.
Illinois: For the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois (HCI), the big news this year is a lawsuit that they, along with the Shawnee Trail Conservancy, Illinois Trail Riders, Southern Illinois Ranch and Campground Association of Outdoor Resources, have brought against the U.S. National Forest Service and its decision to prohibit equestrian use in 40 of Shawnee’s National Forest’s 81 natural areas. The ruling in this case could affect other states’ battles against President Clinton’s transformation of 40 million acres into natural areas, disallowing some recreational use of the lands.
HCI also reported that this year’s Illinois Horse Fair was a big success both financially and in attendance.
Indiana: The Indiana Horse Council (IHC) put on its 21st Hoosier Horse Fair & Expo where 30,000 people got to check out the wares of more than 200 vendors, see the Indiana High School Rodeo and take part in workshops.
IHC, through its non-profit arm, the Indiana Horse Council Foundation, Inc., set up a new fund, the Sugar Pep Rio Fund, to support equine trauma research through treatment and rehabilitation of horses that have been severely injured. Programs for youth, therapeutic riding centers and second careers for horses are also supported by the organization.
Iowa: The Iowa Horse Council reported that because of recent legislation, sales of liability signs continues to raise the visibility of the council, which, in turn, has been translating into new memberships.
The council also produced its annual Horse Fair, judged the FFA state horse proficiency entries and awarded five educational scholarships, among other activities.
Kentucky: The Kentucky Horse Council (KHC) sponsored legislation to have a specialty equine license plate. The legislation was passed in 1998 and subsequently, ten dollars from every plate sold goes to the KHC to support the horse industry.
KHC also sponsored the 2nd annual Ohio Valley Trails Symposium last February to focus on trails education and regional trails issues. And, this coming March, KHC will put on a National Expo on Equine Transportation in Lexington.
Lastly, KHC launched its own Website: www.kentuckyhorse.org.
Maryland: With more equine activity per square mile than anywhere else in the country, the Maryland Horse Council helped organize the first Horse Trailer Emergency Rescue seminar for emergency and rescue personnel.
In addition, the council put on a seminar on the role of vets in animal cruelty investigations, which explored working with private and public agencies, bureaucratic red tape, applicable state laws and how to be a professional witness.
On the marketing front, the Maryland Horse Council has been active with the national Saddle Up America program and started Saddle Up Maryland in order to introduce people to equine activities.
Michigan: The Michigan Horse Council (MHC) held its annual International Stallion Exhibition and Trade Show last March with new records for attendance. In November, the MHC helped put on the North American Horse Spectacular, which included a trail riders conference. But the biggest show, the Horse Expo, continues to thrive and expand. This year, MHC was able to help fund additional parking and an additional barn at the exhibition center.
The MHC initiated a scholarship program in 1999 with two $250 scholarships. This year, the program was expanded to eight scholarships with a top scholarship of $1,500.
Minnesota: The Minnesota Horse Council, which runs the Minnesota Horse Exposition, was able to raise enough money at this year’s exposition to give the council’s scholarship and grants committees $37,000 and the trails committee $35,000.
New Hampshire: The N.H. Horse Council announced that, in order to increase membership, it would now offer four membership levels instead of two.
The council also compiled a Horses Sharing the Trail brochure and a Horse Keeping Guidelines and Best Management practices brochure, in addition to hosting workshops on manure management, horse identification and legal issues at the Farm & Forest Expo.
New Jersey: As their report stated, New Jersey—the home of the Turnpike, Newark, Trenton, road rage, congestion and the Jersey devil—is also the home of 49,000 horses and 80,000 acres of land devoted to horse farms.
The council, which works in cooperation with the state Department of Agriculture, through the New Jersey Equine Advisory Board, tackled many issues including local zoning assistance, animal health and welfare, disaster plans, legislation and education.
The council produces educational brochures, co-sponsors a Horse Management Seminar with the state university and Department of Agriculture and hosts three general meetings each year that, this year, included West Nile virus, the New Jersey Animal Disaster Plan and new legislation dealing with deer management/Sunday hunting, off-track betting and a new Veterinary Practice Act.
New Mexico: The New Mexico Horse Council, Inc. (NMHC) debuted a Website (www.nmhorsecouncil.org) this past year in an effort to improve communications.
The NMHC is waiting to sign a new lease with the city of Albuquerque on La Boca Negra Horsemen’s Complex, a 160-acre equestrian facility.
In June, the fires in New Mexico galvanized state horsemen to begin work on an emergency disaster plan and in 2001, the council will introduce legislation to maintain the network of irrigation ditches along the Rio Grande as multi-purpose trails.
New York: The New York Horse Council had a lucky year in 1999, receiving two grants from the state with a total value of $200,000. The first is a grant to enhance the recreational horse show industry. The second grant was for the development of a trail system on private lands with state-owned easements.
The council has also been busy organizing New York State rescue sanctuaries and retirement farms around the state in an effort to eliminate equine slaughter in New York. Legislatively, the council was able to get the fines in the Humane Transport Law increased from $100 a horse to $250 per horse.
Finally, the council, along with the Farm Bureau, was able to get boarding farms full sales tax relief, and the range of non-taxable items has been clarified and expanded.
North Carolina: Because of new funding, the North Carolina Horse Council was able to accomplish many things this year, among them, the launch of a program to protect and preserve the state’s horse trails by working with saddle clubs.
In addition, the council is working to stop proposed regulations directed at land owners with livestock in specified watershed areas. The regulations could result in the loss of horse farmlands.
A Minimum Standards of Care brochure was published and the council is expanding its animal welfare hotline. The council is also working on more training for animal protection officers.
Ohio: The Ohio State Council reported that an old law stating that any vehicle weighing more than 3,000 pounds was commercial, was finally revised to a 23,000-pound threshold. According to the council, the state used horse trailers under the old law for extra money.
The Ohio council also got state and federal park and forest agencies to work together for trail rides and land-use management.
Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania Equine Council, with more than 4,000 members, has been focusing on getting funding for the Pennsylvania Equine Center, which when completed, would boast four barns, each with 120 permanent stalls. A 150-foot by 300-foot covered arena with drop-down sides and a main arena of the same size are also in the plans. The facility would be used to host large shows and expos.
In addition, the Pennsylvania council has been working on putting on increased safety demonstrations and they have also begun a youth program that will award scholarships.
South Carolina: The South Carolina Horsemen’s Council (SCHC) put on another successful annual meeting and expo this past March featuring Pat Parelli. At the show, two $1,000 scholarships were awarded to youth members.
The SCHC has also been active in animal emergency response planning. In 1999, Animal Emergency Response was signed in as part of the State Emergency Operations Plan. Since then, county animal emergency response committees were formed and a search is underway to find county coordinators for the programs.
Finally, SCHC has been lobbying lawmakers to fund a horse census to update old numbers. The SCHC asked for $100,000, but the request was tabled. The council wants the survey because better statistics would boost the industry’s standing among the state’s other industries.
Tennessee: The Tennessee Horse Council (THC) applied and received money from the State Department of Agriculture’s Ag Tag Fund to help publish a Tennessee equine industry directory, Tennessee Horse Source.
THC also staged its 11th annual Volunteer Horse Fair with record attendance and participation and is looking for a larger venue next year.
The THC launched a long-term partnership with Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the state veterinarian to help develop disaster plans.
Utah: In Utah, where approximately 200,000 to 230,000 horses represent a $1.25-billion economic impact, the horse council hosted its first exposition. The show attracted 5,000 attendees and will be put on again next year.
Virginia: The Virginia Horse Council (VHC) has been busy this year following the first challenge to the Equine Activity Liability Law. In this case, the State Supreme Court prevented the jury from viewing the liability law because the plaintiff was kicked in the head and wasn’t “riding.” This important case could have repercussions across the country.
The VHC is also working toward establishing a foundation for a horse retirement program at a Virginia juvenile corrections facility.
The VHC has also put together an enlarged trail directory and a Horse industry Directory available for purchase through the council.
Wisconsin: The Wisconsin State Horse Council (WSHC) was busy this past year putting on the annual Midwest Horse Fair, producing its seventh edition of a Trails Directory and sponsoring an annual horse show judge’s certification program and judges directory.
As with other states, Wisconsin is concentrating on updating a Wisconsin Equine Survey in order to show lawmakers the positive impact the horse industry has on the state.
The council also donates funds to equine-related activities and organizations, such as therapeutic riding centers, Wisconsin High School Rodeo, 4-H Horse Association and college scholarships.
For more information on the state councils and on the national American Horse Council, contact the American Horse Council, 1700 K Street, NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C., 20006 or call (202) 296-4031. Check out their Website at www.horsecouncil.org.