The American Horse Council held its 2001 Annual Meeting from March 31 through April 3 in Arlington, Va. Attendees representing a broad cross-section of the horse industry—breed associations, veterinarians, animal welfare, performance associations, racetracks, publishing, youth organizations, farriers, Cooperative Extension and more—gathered from across the United States. This annual, intensive, four-day meeting offers an important opportunity for the horse community to visit with senatorial and congressional representatives to discuss industry issues. Seminars about the current economic overview, health and welfare, trail access on public land, environmental regulations and labor availability were also offered.
The first two days of the conference provided annual business meeting time for the State Horse Council Advisory Committee. During the 2001 meeting, 23 state horse councils were represented. Highlights from individual state reports follow.
Colorado—CoHoCo has a new office in the Livestock Exchange Building in Denver. They also hired EquineSite.com to redesign their Website to feature e-commerce and on-line comment functions. The Rocky Mountain Expo, co-sponsored by CoHoCo and CSU Cooperative, presented a new track of seminars focused on small-acreage owners. On the legislative front, the Estes Park Ordinance was found to be unconstitutional. CoHoCo opposed this ordinance that was based on banning the exhibition of animals. CoHoCo has also sent representatives to support the reintroduction of “The Researchers and Farmers Freedom from Terrorism Act,” that focuses on protection for groups that have been affected by domestic terrorism in the name of animal rights.
Idaho—The Idaho Horse Council, founded in 1975, continues its check-off fee on brand and travel certificates. This fee supports the Idaho Horse Board, which awards grants for education, research and promotion. IHC held a three-day Horse Expo in April for more working capital for their projects. A newly established scholarship program for graduates of Idaho high schools awarded three $1,000 scholarships to candidates who have experience with horses or other livestock, or who anticipate studies in any agriculture-related field.
Illinois—Horsemen’s Council of Illinois is now able to offer an automatic benefit to individual members of $1 million in Excess Personal Liability Insurance. This benefit protects individual members and their children under 18 for liability arising out of owning and/or enjoying horses or horse-drawn vehicles. HCI also conducted strategic planning, setting new goals and finding a new mission statement. They have also announced the formation of the Illinois Equine Foundation to promote the equine industry through scholarships, grants and financial assistance for special events, activities and education.
Indiana—Indiana Horse Council ran its 23rd annual Hoosier Horse Fair & Expo, offering a full-scale trade show of over 250 vendors, education and entertainment to 30,000 attendees. Grand Slam, Inc. was brought on board to increase overall image, sponsorship and activity base for both IHC and the IHC Foundation. In addition, The Equine Welfare Committee has established a hotline with Indiana Livestock Commission on Farm Animal Care for reporting potential abuse.
Iowa—Activities included participation in the state 4-H Jamboree, producing the Horse Fair, judging state FFA horse proficiency entries, supervising the equestrian portion of the Iowa Games, a booth in the Agriculture Building at the Iowa State Fair, awarding recognition certificates and awarding five educational scholarships.
Kentucky—The Kentucky Horse Council sponsored the 3rd annual Ohio Valley Trails Symposium with a focus on manure issues. They are planning their second national conference on Equine Transportation for March 2002 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Other activities have included sponsoring an Open Stable Day & Driving Tour, as well as compiling a membership profile via computer.
Maine—Maine Equine Industry Association functions as both the state horse council and the Maine Farm Bureau’s equine committee. Activities included working with the Commissioner of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Working Group to provide recommendations for the chronic under-funding of Maine’s animal welfare program. Maine is also addressing the future of equestrian use of Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor. If the National Park Service fails to attract a new concessionaire this year, the gateway that allows horses access to the carriage roads will be closed. Finally, an economic impact study commissioned by Maine’s Harness Racing Promotion Board found harness racing contributes $50.7 million to the state’s economy. The state’s entire equine industry could exceed $200 million.
Michigan—The Michigan Horse Council has been actively involved in gaining equestrian access to some state game areas that are primarily dedicated to wildlife management. MHC also launched a Gaited Horse Educational Clinic to address the needs of gaited horse owners. MHC also presented its 2nd Annual Fall Trail Riders Seminar that combines both trails activism and education.
Minnesota—Minnesota Horse Expo raised $165,000 for the Minnesota Horse Council budget. Ninety-one percent of the funds are given back to the industry in the form of grants, scholarships, trail construction and maintenance, campsite development, disaster committee, direct funding and a horseman’s library.
New Hampshire—New Hampshire Horse Council, Inc. continues to promote the N.H. horse industry through booths at Equine Affaire, Springfield, Mass., and the Farm & Forest Expo, Manchester, N.H. NHHC has established a Website at www.nhhorsecouncil.com as an affiliate of EquineSite.com. The council completed and distributed the second edition of its directory, and has begun exploring avenues for conducting an economic impact study.
New Jersey—The horse council co-sponsors an annual Horse Management Seminar with Rutgers University. The Veterinary Practice Act was reworded to make it more user friendly, but still meets with controversy. Educational meetings have been run to clarify ramifications of all proposed alternatives to the new act. NJHC has a fundraiser going full speed for the Equine Center for Excellence. Another council project has provided maps of the state by county along with veterinarian contact info to all townships and state trooper barracks for emergencies on the road.
New Mexico—New Mexico Horse Council continues to grow, having held its largest annual meeting ever in December. Large horse events to be held in New Mexico in 2001 include Arabian and Half Arabian National Championships, Arabian Youth Championships, U.S. Team Roping Championship Super Looper (some 6,000 teams), and the annual State Fair that showcases horse racing, PRCA rodeo and 21 horse shows. Short-term goals are: to form a 501(C)3 foundation, revise bylaws, upgrade Website and expand membership.
New York—New York State Horse Council was successful in defeating an animal slaughter bill. Other major successes include their Millennium Horse Medallion Program that resulted in a big boost for horses at small shows and the State Fair. NYSHC has also just published its state-wide equine industry directory.
North Carolina—The North Carolina Horse Council has now raised between $200,000 and $250,000. With the funds, the organization has produced a video about the North Carolina Horse Council, worked to revitalize links with agribusiness and held a seminar on “Equestrian Access to Trails.” They are also looking into how DMV regulations are enforced when it comes to trailering.
Ohio—Ohio Horseman’s Council has been successful in establishing council chapters in 60 of its 88 counties. They have a task force working with the state on trails issues. OHC’s three new horse camps, including one on state land and one on federal land, demonstrate successes of this coalition.
Pennsylvania—Pennsylvania Equine Council has seen a 10 percent increase in membership, primarily in trails. They have just updated their bylaws and council policy and are recruiting regional and county directors. Plans are underway for their Versatile Horse Expo held in Washington, Pa. The proposed Equine Center, a state horse facility, is now a closed issue. PEC is also working with both State and game lands towards reopening spaces.
Tennessee—Tennessee Horse Council has grown exponentially in the last year. It has published a directory, recognized the importance of trails issues and is working hand-in-hand with its Farm Bureau.
Virginia—Virginia Horse Council has secured funds to hire someone to help them grow their horse council. In other areas, they are revising their Equine Activity Liability Act to strengthen it.
Wisconsin—Wisconsin State Horse Council has formed a new committee to study the feasibility of a new Horse Park. They also have a new Website at www.wisconsinstatehorsecouncil.org. Their trails committee provides a matching grant of up to $500 to organizations who are building new trails; they are also updating their Trails Directory. Their equine liability law has been challenged and upheld.