Equine Welfare Data Collective officials starts data collection

Equine Welfare Data Collective officials starts data collection

The Equine Welfare Data Collective (EWDC) is pleased to officially announce the start of data collection within the equine welfare industry.

The EWDC is collecting national data on equine welfare from transition centers, adoption centers, rescues, sanctuaries, shelters, and other organizations involved in equine welfare. We will measure progress and identify risks and opportunities within the industry, so organizations like yours can develop impactful and sustainable programs.

The success of the EWDC depends on a robust contribution of data from all organizations within the industry. The first round of data collection will focus on the population of intakes and outcomes within the United States. Online surveys will be distributed to EWDC affiliate organizations beginning immediately.

How does your organization become an affiliate? Affiliates must commit to responding to surveys on a quarterly basis. Participation in the EWDC is free, and all results will remain anonymous. Organizations that contribute data will be the first to receive the results and will be given an EWDC badge for their website to publicly demonstrate their commitment to our mission.

Granting organizations such as the Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC), The Right Horse Initiative (TRH), American Association of Equine Practitioners Foundation (AAEPF), and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) will be looking for your contribution to the EWDC as part of their funding considerations.

Your data contribution will provide more accurate study results to help you understand and communicate the scope of the issues you are tackling, better serve your community, and become a benchmark among industry leaders.

To become an affiliate or for more information, please contact Emily Stearns, EWDC program manager, at EWDC@HorseCouncil.Org.

AHC Announces Topic for 4th Quarter Webinar!

AHC Announces Topic for 4th Quarter Webinar

Webinar to focus on State Equine Liability Law

The American Horse Council (AHC) will conduct its fourth quarter webinar for 2018 examining the legal landscape that characterizes diverse state equine liability laws.  The hour-long session will feature two nationally recognized practitioners of equine law, Julie Fershtman, Esq. and Milton Toby, Esq.  The webinar will take place on Wednesday, November 14, at 3:00 pm ET.

According to the 2017 economic impact study analyzing the horse industry, more than 30% of U.S. households include equine enthusiasts among their ranks.  Nearly two-thirds of this group – or more than 17% of U.S. households – includes individuals who are active participants in equine activities making them subject to liability waivers.  The waivers can take the form of written contracts and/or signage placed on an equine property and may limit the rights and responsibilities of riders and property owners engaged in equine activities.   Because equine liability law is a state matter, the $122 billion U.S. horse industry is subject to a patchwork of disparate laws and regulations that vary across jurisdictions.  Ms. Fershtman and Mr. Toby will help us navigate the legal maze, identifying common threads that cross state lines, and analyze nation-wide legal trends impacting the equine sector.

Julie Fersthman is a shareholder in the Michigan-based law firm of Foster Swift.  Her law practice covers all equine breeds and disciplines and serves stables, industry professionals, associations, trainers, and show management.  Highly experienced in handling a variety of disputes involving the equine sector, Ms. Fershtman has served as special out-of-state counsel on equine-related lawsuits in 18 jurisdictions across the country.

Milton Toby is an attorney and award-winning author based in central Kentucky.  For the last decade, he has taught courses in equine commercial law, regulatory law, and federal income tax for the equine industry program in the University of Louisville’s College of Business.  A noted thoroughbred racing historian, Mr. Toby has written about high profile racing disqualification controversies and horse theft.

The webinar is open to both AHC members and non-members—we encourage everyone to attend! The webinar lasts approximately one hour, and will allow for Q&A at the end of each speaker’s presentation.  To register for the webinar, please contact Dennis Martinez at DMartinez@horsecouncil.org.  We look forward to having you join us on November 14.

AHC Releases Equine Microchip “Look-up” Website!

AHC Releases Equine Microchip “Look-up” Website

Washington DC – The American Horse Council is excited to announce the release of their new equine microchip lookup tool at www.Horselookup.org. This tool will allow the general public; most importantly horse owners, law enforcement and animal health officials, to search for association affiliation for horses that have been microchipped and registered with a participating organization. The American Horse Council is continuing to solicit participation from every U.S. organization that houses microchip information in an effort to make this tool as thorough as possible.

Microchip lookup services have existed for several animal species for years. Unfortunately, those lookup tools have certain limitations that prevented the entirety of the horse industry from being represented. Horselookup.org addresses those issues while also providing a central informational source for the equine industry concerning microchipping, as well as the promotion of microchipping as a form of permanent identification.

Horselookup.org also promotes the industry’s various Safety Net Programs. Safety Net Programs offer individuals the opportunity to attach their name to a horse’s registration for the purposes of providing an option for that horse should it ever be in need of a home. Safety Net Programs vary by organization and are managed by those participating organizations. If a horse is enrolled in a Safety Net Program, a special logo will appear with that animal’s search results specifying which program and the contact information for that organization.

The creation of Horselookup.org was possible thanks to a generous grant from the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). “The creation of the Equine Microchip Look-up Tool is a vital step to reaching the ASPCA’s goal of ensuring all equines have good welfare,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of ASPCA Equine Welfare. “The tool will not only help reunite horses with their owners during natural disasters, but it will also help to facilitate the growth of safety net programs where individuals who have owned, cared for or admired a horse can sign up to help that horse should he ever become at risk.”

We are very grateful to the early adopters of this new AHC led industry initiative; The Jockey Club and their Thoroughbred Connect Program, US Equestrian (USEF), Datamars, Inc. and their PetLink.net registry, Microchip ID Systems, Inc. and their Equine Protection registry as well as their LifeTrac Safety Net Program. The complete list of supporting organizations can be found here.

Please visit https://www.horselookup.org/ for more information, or contact Cliff Williamson at cwilliamson@horsecouncil.org at the American Horse Council.

Horse Industry Gathers in DC, Moves Key Priorities Toward the Finish Line!

October 1, 2018

Horse Industry Gathers in DC, Moves Key Priorities Toward the Finish Line!

On Wednesday, September 26 and Thursday, September 27, horse industry representatives gathered in Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers and advocate for passage of the industry’s top legislative priorities.  During a meeting with leaders of the Congressional Horse Caucus and other industry allies on September 26, members learned more about positive developments related to a funding boost for equine assisted therapy and industry-specific provisions of the 2018 farm bill and guest worker visa legislation.  Prospects for another enforcement delay for the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and progress on trails legislation also emerged as reasons to run into the home-stretch of the 115th Congress on a high note.  During the two day meeting series, horse industry advocates met in the offices of more than 35 elected officials.   Below are summaries of highlights emerging from the Fall “Ride-In.”

Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) Emerges as a Win-Win for Heroes and Horses

Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) briefed horse industry representatives on the latest boost to EAT funding included in the new FY2019 Veterans’ Affairs spending bill, which the president signed into law on September 21.  The new law increases EAT funding to $1.5 million, a 50 percent increase from FY2018 levels.  Rep. Barr (R-KY) spoke passionately about the dual benefits to veterans returning to civilian life, and the opportunities for working horses to have “second careers” as therapeutic animals.  Studies show that EAT can effectively treat post-traumatic stress disorder that afflicts many U.S. veterans.

Farm Legislation Includes Cutting-Edge Animal Health Programs, Lawmakers Address Industry-Specific Statutory Definition

While the industry has successfully advocated for a trifecta of livestock health programs in both versions of the farm bill – creation of the National Animal Health Vaccine bank, a new National Disaster Preparedness Program and support for the National Animal Health and Laboratory Network – differences over the scope of nutrition assistance programs have stalled agreement on a final package.  House Agriculture Committee Vice Chairman G.T. Thompson (R-PA) informed AHC that he believed that the House and Senate would ultimately find common ground on a final bill before the end of the year.  Echoing statements made during several meetings, Rep. Thompson (R-PA) also expressed optimism that the final bill would drop language included in the senate version that defines horses as “pets” within the context of a “Pet and Women Safety” (PAWS) provision.  Industry has suggested that lawmakers delete “horses” from the proposed, statutory definition of “pets,” but retain “horses” as a stand-alone category.  This would retain the long-standing classification of horses as “livestock,” while allowing equines to fall within the scope of property damage subject to compensation within the parameters of the PAWS Act.

Congressional Allies Continue to Fight for Guest-Worker Visa Flexibility, Equine-Specific Labor Needs

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) discussed the AG and Legal Workforce Act of 2018 (H.R. 6417), which would reform the broken agricultural guest worker visa program.  Among other benefits to the industry, the legislation clearly states that personnel involved in the “management and training of equines” will qualify to participate in a newly-created H-2C visa program for farm workers.   Since Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced the bill in late June, it has gained 110 co-sponsors.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) discussed a second vehicle important to the industry, his provision in the FY2019 DHS (H.R. 6776) appropriation which addresses the stringent 66,000 cap imposed on the issuance of H-2B visas by providing an exemption for returning workers.   This “returning worker” exemption not only provides much needed cap relief, but will reduce red tape for seasonal employers.  Congress will likely not finalize the bill until after the November election.

Will Trails Legislation Cross the Finish Line?

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) lauded the fact that both the Recreation Not Red-Tape (RNR) Act (H.R. 3400) and the Restore Our Parks Act (H.R. 6510) passed his committee favorably, and are placed on the House calendar for a possible vote before the end of the year.  While neither companion bill in the Senate has yet received a hearing, senate aides stated that there was reason to be optimistic that Restore Our Parks (S. 3172) would receive a hearing in the fall.  Of the two major trails bills that the horse industry supports, it appears that Restore Our Parks, which would address backlog trails maintenance, has the better chance of crossing the finish line before the end of the year.  Stay tuned.

Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act Gains Supporters 

No new information emerged during the meeting series to raise the prospects for passage of the PAST Act.  However, the Senate version of the bill (S. 2957) has gained 32 cosponsors.  Sen. Crapo’s (R-ID) office stated that they were optimistic that the bill would have no shortage of supporters during the next congress. AHC will continue to keep you updated on any changes to the prospects for this important equine health legislation.

Horse Industry Focuses on Congressional Leaders, Leverages Message

While the bulk of the Hill meetings during the ride-in focused on constituent-specific officials, the industry also met with leaders who have jurisdiction over the sector’s major legislative issues.  Horse industry representatives were able to meet with chairmen of the House Judiciary Committee and House Natural Resources Committee, as well as the Vice Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.  On the Senate side, AHC members and guests talked to senior staff in the offices of the Senate Majority Leader and Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, among others.   If you’d like more information related to the meeting series and next steps, please contact Bryan Brendle at bbrendle@horsecouncil.org or 202-296-4031.

Reps. Andy Barr (R-KY) and David Valadao (R-CA) kick off a meeting of the Congressional Horse Caucus.