Blodgett Appointed to AHC Board


Dr. Glenn Blodgett of Guthrie, Texas has been elected to the American Horse Council’s Board of Trustees. Dr. Blodgett is the current president of the American Quarter Horse Association.

“The work of the American Horse Council is crucial to the future of the equine industry,” said Dr. Blodgett. “AQHA has been actively involved with the American Horse Council since its formation in 1969, and together we’ve made a considerable impact when it comes to equine matters in Washington. I am honored to serve as an AHC trustee and continue our work to ensure the horse industry is represented properly. I look forward to working with others in the industry to make sure the wellbeing of all horses and horsemen remains a priority.”

Dr. Blodgett became an AQHA director in 1991, and in 2011, he elevated to director-at-large. Dr. Blodgett served on the AQHA Stud Book and Registration Committee and as its chairman. He also served on the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame Selection Committee, as well as the American Quarter Horse Foundation, AQHA Ranching, and Marketing and Membership councils.

Dr. Blodgett received his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Oklahoma State University and earned his degree in veterinary medicine from Texas A&M University, and has since been recognized as an outstanding alumnus by both universities.

In 1982, Dr. Blodgett became the resident veterinarian and manager of the horse division at the Four Sixes Ranch. In his tenure at the Four Sixes, which is located near Guthrie, Texas, the ranch has become an all-time leading breeder of both racing and performance American Quarter Horses, and in 1993, won the AQHA Best Remuda Award. In addition to its cattle, the horse operation raises racing, performance and ranch horses. Dr. Blodgett is the recipient of the 2011 AQHA Racing Council Special Recognition Award.

“The AHC is very pleased to have Dr. Blodgett join the AHC board. His horse and livestock experience will be invaluable. He also brings a ranching and western background that will be very helpful,” said AHC President Jay Hickey.

He and his wife, Karen, have two daughters: Buffie Guynes, who lives with husband Michael and daughters Catherine, Rebecca and Clair in Keller, Texas; and Brandie Mustian, who lives with husband Mike, son Maddox and daughter Myla in Weatherford, Texas.

Press Release- PAST Act Introduced in the House


On July 28, 2015, Representatives Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) re-introduced the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2015 (HR 3268) (PAST Act) in the House of Representatives. The PAST Act is supported by the American Horse Council (AHC) and almost all major national horse show organizations and many state and local horse organizations. The Senate version of the bill was introduced by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) earlier this year.

The PAST Act would strengthen the Horse Protection Act (HPA) and end the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses. Despite the existence of a federal ban on soring for over forty years, this cruel practice continues in the “performance” or “big lick” segments of the Walking Horse industry.

“As a veterinarian and lover of animals, I feel the time is now to stop the practice of horse soring for good. I am not the only one who feels this way. Roughly 280 plus organizations, associations, veterinary and animal health advocates, horse industry professionals, and various other groups, support the ending of this unnecessary practice. Also the Senate companion bill, introduced by Senator Kelly Ayotte, currently has the support of 41 Senators,” said Representative Ted S. Yoho (R-FL).

“The Walking Horse industry has had since 1970 to reform their ways and come up with a more ethical means to achieve their desired goal. They have failed to take advantage of this opportunity and now is the time for horse soring to end,” continued Yoho.

“Soring is a cruel and inhumane practice and, despite being illegal for more than 45 years, it remains far too prevalent in the walking horse community. We must end the industry’s failed self-policing of this abuse, ban the use of soring devices, strengthen penalties and make other reforms needed to end this malicious practice. I’m proud to partner with my colleague and fellow veterinarian Representative Yoho on this bill to strengthen the Horse Protection Act in an effort stop to this heinous abuse of American horses once and for all,” said Representative Kurt Schrader.

“Ending soring is important for the welfare of Tennessee Walking Horses, Spotted Saddle Horses, and Racking Horses,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “But, it is also important for the economic health of the horse industry because, while soring happens only in a small segment of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Spotted Saddle Horse, and Racking Horse industry, such abuse damages the image of the entire horse industry.”

Most major national horse show organizations support the PAST Act, including the American Horse Council, the American Quarter Horse Association, the U.S. Equestrian Federation, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Paint Horse Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, the Pinto Horse Association of America, the Arabian Horse Association, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the United Professional Horsemen’s Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club, as well as many state and local horse organizations.

“The bill was introduced with the support of 108 original co-sponsors, 54 Republicans and 54 Democrats, very few bills in Congress ever achieve this level of bi-partisan support,” said Hickey. “The magnitude of support for this bill is clear, but there is still a lot of work that will need to be done to make sure it is brought to a vote.”

The AHC urges all members of the horse community to contact their Senators and Representative and tell them “the PAST Act should be given a vote as soon as possible and they should vote for it, when that happens.

The AHC says individuals who wish to support the PAST Act can visit to find out more information or support the AHC’s efforts by joining the AHC.

Federal and Industry Speakers Address AHC’s 2015 Issues Forum


A broad range of speakers from the federal government and the horse industry addressed the American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum in Washington, DC on June 16. The theme of the forum was “Protecting and Promoting the Horse.” This year’s forum, sponsored by Luitpold, drew a crowd of about 175 and was held in conjunction with the AHC’s annual convention, which ran from June 14 to 17 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. “We were very pleased with the crowd and the presentations,” said AHC president Jay Hickey, “particularly the afternoon sessions which were very upbeat and highlighted the efforts of six organizations working hard to attract people, particularly youth, to the horse experience and keep them involved.”

USDA and the Horse Industry

Representatives from the Department of Agriculture led off the morning program. Most were from the Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which may have the most day-to-day contact with the horse industry of any department in the federal government.

“The horse community may not understand how USDA and the industry interact on a daily basis. The forum provided an opportunity for attendees to hear from the front line of the Department’s team protecting the health of our horses and the economic viability of the industry,” said Hickey. “We are very pleased that the Department chose to send eight speakers to the forum and we are grateful that they shared their time and expertise with our attendees throughout the convention, particularly now when the agency is so busy battling an unprecedented disease outbreak of avian influenza.”

Gary Woodward, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, APHIS, opened the forum. Mr. Woodward explained how the Department and the equine industry interact in a wide variety of ways, ranging from protecting horses from the importation of diseases, detecting and addressing disease outbreaks, collecting national information and statistics, enforcing federal programs for the welfare of horses, and providing grants and support to industry-led projects that support or protects the nation’s equine population.

Mr. Woodward announced a financial commitment from the USDA to the industry’s Equine Disease Communication Center, the importance of which was discussed throughout the AHC convention at committee meetings and general sessions. The communication center is an initiative of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the American Horse Council to develop a national hub of information for equine disease reporting, similar to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which alerts and educates the country about human diseases and outbreaks. “We very much appreciate this contribution. .“We very much appreciate this contribution. It signifies federal recognition of how important the Equine Disease Communication Center is to the industry and the role the horse community plays in preventing infectious diseases,” said Dr. Nat White who has been leading the effort to get the communication center up-and-running.

Dr. Alecia Naugle, Director of the Sheep, Goat, Cervid and Equine Health Center for Veterinary Services (VS), APHIS, recounted the importance of horses in her life and to the country, and introduced the staff accompanying her.

Dr. Rory O. Carolan, the Equine Health Team Leader for Surveillance, Preparedness & Response Services for VS-APHIS, is often the first person contacted by industry for help. Dr. Carolan provided an overview of the Equine Health Team, its mission, its cooperating partners and the diseases of concern in the United States. He explained the Department’s responsibility to regulate the industry, conduct investigations and enforce federal requirements involving illegal importation or exportation of horses, illegal production or distribution of veterinary biologics, enforcement of the Commercial Transportation of Equines to Slaughter Act, and the process for veterinarians to become USDA-accredited.

Dr. Josie Traub-Dargatz, Professor of Equine Medicine at Colorado State University and Equine Commodity Specialist for APHIS, spoke about the Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health (CEAH), the NAHMS Equine 2015 Study, which is underway, as well as a review of an Equine Herpesvirus Case Control Study. She mentioned the development of a National List of Reportable Animal Diseases (NLRAD), active monitoring of equine laboratory submissions to anticipate disease outbreaks, and current and potential distribution of the Cayenne Tick in the U.S. Dr. Traub-Dargatz noted that portions of the NAHMS study could be delayed by the Department’s emergency response to the extensive outbreak of “bird-flu.”

Dr. Joyce Bowling-Heyward, the National Director of Import-Export Animals Staff at USDA, APHIS, VS updated attendees on NIES current activities. She noted that NIES has now approved three new private equine quarantine facilities, and there is a potential for more. Dr. Bowling-Heyward said that APHIS was standardizing import processes to make it easier for shippers to request services and for APHIS to track needs and assign personnel. She hopes this will make the import process easier and more efficient.

Dr. Ellen Buck, the Equine Import Specialist for the USDA, APHIS, VS, explained the roles and responsibilities of the NIES in equine import and export, regionalization evaluation services for policy development, as well as special planning and coordination for American-hosted international equine events. Dr. Buck noted that NIES is working closely with the World Organization for Animal Health and other major trading partners on proposed protocols for the import of a subpopulation of “High-Health, High Performance” horses that compete at the top level of equestrian sports, including showing and racing, to make their international movement easier. Institution of such a program will require changes to current federal regulations, but “the program is moving forward. But as with everything,” Dr. Buck said, “the devil is in the details.”

Dr. Rachel Cezar, of APHIS’ Animal Care Horse Protection Program, spoke about the actions being taken to enforce the Horse Protection Act. She described soring, the equipment and chemicals used for soring, as well as the industry enforcement and federal oversight provided by the USDA under the Horse Protection Act. Dr. Cezar also mentioned the USDA Office of Inspector General Audit from 2010 and the status of the changes proposed in that audit.

Chris Messer, with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, wrapped up the USDA’s presentations with a description of NASS and the process for the upcoming 2017 “Ag Census.” She provided an example of the form for equine census information and elaborated on how individuals can access information from previous census results. Ms. Messer also mentioned the change in the upcoming census from previous ones in the reporting of animals sold and offered to “work with the industry” on the 2017 census.

Unwanted Horse Coalition Celebrates 10 Years of Action

Following the extensive presentation by USDA, there was a special recognition of the Unwanted Horse Coalition, which operates under the umbrella of the AHC, and is celebrating its 10th anniversary. A video on the UHC was presented. It can be viewed at:

Dr. Doug Corey, the chairman of the UHC, discussed the events that led to the formation of the UHDC in 2005, its current activities, and future plans. Dagmar Caramello, director of the UHC, also explained the educational programs and initiatives of the UHC, particularly its Operation Gelding program which has assisted in castrating over 1,100 stallions over the last few years at clinics in 33 states.

The UHC presented an award to Dr. Kent Carter, president of the Association of Equine Practitioners, for the AAEP’s foresight in organizing the UHC and their continuing support.

Van Ness Award

The AHC also presented the Van Ness Award to Yvette Anderson-Rollins of Springville, Indiana during the annual meeting at a special luncheon. The Van Ness Award is presented annually to an individual who has shown leadership and service to the horse community in his or her state.

“Ms. Anderson-Rollins has dedicated her life to creating, maintaining and promoting land and trail usage both in Indiana and nationwide,” said AHC president Jay Hickey in presenting the award to her. “She is a true educator in conservation, planning, and government affairs, and has worked tirelessly to open lines of communication, keep them open, ensure concerns are heard, and answers found to major problems.”

In accepting the award, Ms. Anderson-Rollins said “I am truly honored to have been chosen as the recipient of the Marjorie Van Ness award. When I look at all those who have received this award before me and their great accomplishments, and the knowledge they have shared, I am overwhelmed by their dedication to the betterment of the horse. There are so many people who deserve to be recognized with the Van Ness Award. I would like to thank all of them for their hard work and volunteerism ensuring future generations an opportunity to enjoy the horse.”

Going to College – Equine Programs for College Students

The afternoon sessions involved two panels of industry representatives. The first, “Going to College,” focused on opportunities to keep kids involved in equestrian activities during their years in college when many could easily leave the industry. The second panel, “Promoting the Equine Experience,” provided an update on several new and unique efforts to promote horses to the public.

The “Going to College” panel was comprised of Meghan Boenig, President of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) and head coach of the University of Georgia Equestrian Team; Patte Zumbrun from the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA), and Cindy Schonholtz from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).

“The NCEA is dedicated to providing collegiate opportunities for female equestrian student-athletes,” Boenig mentioned, “and currently there are over 800 female athletes taking advantage of these opportunities.” Boenig also stressed the importance of the fans, especially interaction with younger fans, “Touching youth and connecting them to horses and horse events is vital to molding a bright future for the sport,” she said.

Patte Zumbrun noted that “the IHSA was founded on the principle that any college student should be able to participate in a horse show, regardless of his or her financial status or riding level. The emphasis is on learning, sportsmanship, and fun. Of course, competition plays a role but the students’ enthusiasm and team spirit are the major factors,” she said.

Zumbrun also discussed how the IHSA has provided a second career for many horses. She pointed out the various scholarship opportunities that are offered to the student athletes, as well as career opportunities within their partnerships with both the U.S. Equestrian Federation and U.S. Hunter Jumper Association.

Cindy Schonholtz also spoke about the importance of the PRCA’s Youth Outreach programs, which includes PRCA Rodeo Camps and Youth Rodeo Sponsorships. Of particular note was that the Youth Rodeo Sponsorships aren’t solely focused on the rodeo itself; this sponsorship includes education beyond the arena and offers classroom sessions to set up rodeo athletes for long term success out of the arena. “Educated and well trained athletes coming up through the ranks will create longevity for professional rodeo,” noted Schonholtz.

Promoting the Equine Experience

The final panel focused on “Promoting the Equine Experience.”

“We think these three programs are unique in how they are attempting to attract new people to the equine experience. We are very pleased to have our three speakers today,” said Hickey in introducing the panel. Members of the panel included Price H. Bell, Jr. of Horse Country Inc., Ross Peddicord of the Maryland Horse Industry Board, and Patti Colbert of “Time to Ride,” the AHC’s marketing initiative to introduce newcomers to the horse.

Horse Country, Inc. was founded as a way to connect the general public to the sport of Thoroughbred racing through farm tours and other horse-related experiences in Kentucky. Its kickoff will be in conjunction with the running of the Breeders’ Cup in October at Keeneland Race Track. “We hope this can be our piece of the fan development puzzle; to share the story of the horse – from birth, to racing, and back to breeding,” said Price Bell, Jr. “By offering authentic, unique, coordinated experiences we will share with the public the history and stories of these amazing athletes who inspire us every day.”

Ross Peddicord spoke about the Maryland Horse Industry Discovery Project, launched in the last two years. “The goal of the Maryland Horse Discovery Project is to develop a statewide network of neighborhood equine education centers at existing stables,” said Peddicord, “and to invite people of all ages to learn about horses and horsemanship in a welcoming and knowledgeable setting.” The project has initiated several new programs in Maryland, such as Horse Pals Affinity Group, Horse Discovery Centers, the Maryland Horse Chase and the development of horse curriculum in Maryland public schools, and Horse Land at the Maryland State Fair, to attract and engage the public in ways that haven’t been done in the past for the state of Maryland.

Finally, Patti Colbert of Time to Ride gave an update on the program and the new initiatives it is undertaking this year to attract newcomers. She updated attendees on the 2015 Time to Ride Challenge. Ms. Colbert reported that the 2015 Time to Ride Challenge was underway. Nearly 1,000 stables, facilities, or businesses, termed “hosts,” have signed up from 49 states to compete for $100,000 in cash and prizes in three categories, small, medium, and large. To date 4,112 newcomers have had a first-time horse experience through the Challenge at 206 events already held, Ms. Colbert noted. Hosts will be holding events through September.

“By focusing on word of mouth and the media, we can continue to target and engage our primary audience of moms and their children,” said Colbert. “Through programs such as National Meet a Horse Day, Mom Round-Up, Time to Ride Stories, and the Time to Ride Challenge, we are hoping to connect more newcomers than ever,” she said.

Both panels were well received and highlighted much of the positive work being done in the industry to keep youth involved and attract newcomers to the horse industry.

Rolapp Award

That evening, Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville, Kentucky was awarded the American Horse Council’s 2015 Rolapp Award for his outstanding service to the horse industry. The award was presented at a Congressional Reception on Capitol Hill before leaders of the horse industry and other Members of Congress.

In presenting the award, Hickey said that “this year’s winner is most deserving. The horse industry very much appreciates Mr. Yarmuth’s support, hard work, and tenacity on issues such as clarification of the onerous withholding tax on wagering winnings, immigration, and the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act (PAST), all of which are important to the industry. We are pleased to honor him.”

In accepting the award, Mr. Yarmuth stated, “It’s an honor to receive this award, especially when the Sport of Kings has the world riveted by the thrill of a Triple Crown winner. As a Kentuckian, I’m proud to be recognized for representing the interests of an industry that drives billions of dollars in economic impact and generates tens of thousands of jobs for our Commonwealth. I thank the American Horse Council for presenting me with this year’s Rolapp Award, and for their tireless dedication on behalf of the horse industry.”

Other Activities

The AHC’s the Congressional Ride-In occurred on Wednesday, June 17, and involved convention attendees meeting with their Senators and Representatives to discuss legislative and regulatory issues of importance.

In addition, AHC committees and the Unwanted Horse Coalition met on Monday, June 15, during the AHC’s annual meeting.

The AHC Board of Trustees also met and elected Dr. Jerry Black, chairman, and Jim Gagliano, vice-chairman. “Both Dr. Black and Jim Gagliano have been AHC Trustees for some time. They know the issues the AHC must deal with, have broad experience in various sectors of the horse industry, and will step right into their new roles,” said Hickey. “We are fortunate to have them.”

Dr. Jerry Black Elected AHC Chairman


Dr. Jerry Black was elected chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Horse Council at the AHC’s annual meeting in Washington, DC on June 15. The AHC represents the horse industry before Congress and the federal regulatory agencies in Washington.

Dr. Black is the Wagonhound Land and Livestock Chair in Equine Sciences and is the Director of the Equine Reproduction Laboratory and the Equine Science Undergraduate Program at Colorado State University. He is a 1971 graduate of the veterinary school at CSU.

“I am honored to serve as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Horse Council,” Dr. Black said. “The AHC board is representative of the equine industry and is well positioned to lead the AHC in its mission of representing the various breeds, disciplines, and activities in dealing with the many issues that come before Congress and the federal regulatory agencies. Like the industry itself, the AHC board is diverse and includes individuals from all sectors of the horse industry.”

“We are very fortunate to have Dr. Black as the Chair of the AHC,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “His broad background in the horse industry, not only with our industry’s veterinarians, but also with the Quarter Horse and cutting horse industry, is a great asset to the AHC. His experience with many sectors of the industry is unique. He has also been involved with the AHC for many years, including chairing the animal welfare committee and serving three years as vice-chairman.”

Dr. Black is a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and a past president of the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association. He is a director of the American Quarter Horse Association and serves on the AQHA’s Animal Welfare Commission. Dr. Black is the immediate past chairman of the AAEP’s Welfare and Public Policy Council and is also the Chair of the Medication Review Committee for the National Cutting Horse Association.

Dr. Black has received the distinguished alumnus award from Colorado State University, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and is an American Association of Equine Practitioners Distinguished Life Member.

Dr. Black succeeds Jim Shoemake. “Jim did a great job for the AHC and its members and we appreciate his service,” said Hickey.

Jim Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, was elected AHC vice chair. Mr. Gagliano has been with The Jockey Club since 2005. He has extensive experience in the racing industry with Magna Entertainment Corporation, Greenwood Racing, and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

Mr. Gagliano has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Providence College.

“On a daily basis, the American Horse Council looks out for and acts in the best interest of the equine industry and I am honored to serve as vice chairman for such a widely respected industry organization,” said Mr. Gagliano.

“Both Dr. Black and Jim Gagliano have been AHC Trustees for some time. They know the issues the AHC must deal with, have broad experience in various sectors of the horse industry, and will step right into their new roles,” said Hickey. “We are fortunate to have them.”

For more information on the American Horse Council and its mission, please visit its website at

Yvette Anderson-Rollins Receives AHC’s 2015 Van Ness Award


On June 16, the American Horse Council presented the Van Ness Award to Yvette Anderson-Rollins of Springville, Indiana during the organization’s annual meeting in Washington, DC.

The Van Ness Award is presented annually to an individual who has shown leadership and service to the horse community in his or her state. It is awarded in memory of Mrs. Marjorie Van Ness, one of the founders of the New Jersey Horse Council. Mrs. Van Ness was one of the organizers of the AHC’s Coalition of State Horse Councils.

“Ms. Anderson-Rollins has dedicated her life to creating, maintaining and promoting land and trail usage both in Indiana and nationwide,” said AHC president Jay Hickey in presenting the award to her. “She is a true educator in conservation, planning and government affairs, and has worked tirelessly to open lines of communication, keep them open, ensure concerns are heard, and answers found to major problems.”

Ms. Anderson-Rollins has spoken at many trails symposia, including the National Trails Symposium, the Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference, and the National Equestrian Trails Conference. She has served as the Treasurer and Vice-Chair for the Back Country Horsemen of America, as well as on their Media and Public Lands Committees. She was the President of Hoosier Back Country Horsemen, BCHA of West Central Indiana, the Indiana Horse Council, and the Indiana Trail Riders Association. She served on the Governor’s Committee for the “Hoosier’s on the Move” master trails plan and was the Chair for the DNR Trails Advisory Board.

Receiving the Van Ness Award is just the latest in a long line of awards. She has also received the Trail Warrior Award from Trail Blazer Magazine, the Trail Advocate Award from the Mid-America Trails and Greenways Conference, and was the first recipient of the Mike Phillips Award from Best of America by Horseback.

She has worked for the past 29 years at Indiana University. “During her spare time, she raises and rides American Quarter Horses and is an adventurous trail rider who enjoys riding with her grandchildren and discovering what is over the next ridge with the hope that they will carry on the tradition of promoting and protecting trails,” said Hickey.

“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the recipient of the Marjorie Van Ness award,” said Ms. Anderson-Rollins. “When I look at all those who have received this award before me and their great accomplishments, and the knowledge they have shared, I am overwhelmed by their dedication to the betterment of the horse. There are so many people who deserve to be recognized with the Van Ness award. I would like to thank all those for their hard work and volunteerism ensuring future generations an opportunity to enjoy the horse.”

AHC Opposes Bills to Repeal Interstate Horseracing Act


During the annual American Horse Council (AHC) June meeting in Washington, DC, the AHC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to oppose legislation introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and Representative Joe Pitts (R-PA) to repeal the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978 (IHA).

“The industry is united in its opposition to these bills. The Interstate Horse Racing Act is the framework on which the present-day $26 billion horse racing industry is built,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “Repealing it would be devastating.”

In 1978, Congress enacted the IHA to regulate interstate and off-track pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing. Tens of millions of fans enjoy horse racing and wagering on it. Pari-mutuel racing and the money wagered on it are the economic engines that drive and support the horse racing industry.

While the sponsors of the legislation suggest in releases accompanying the introduction of the bills that they will encourage the industry to develop uniform rules and penalties regarding drugs and medications in racing, unlike other bills introduced by Senator Udall and Congressman Pitts, the only effect of these bills would be to repeal the IHA and racing’s exemption from the prohibitions of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which regulates interstate wagering on the Internet. By doing this the bills would return racing to the way it operated in the 1950s and 1960s and cause great economic damage to the industry.

“The American Horse Council opposes both bills because they would have devastating consequences for the horse racing industry and the hundreds of thousands of Americans whose jobs are supported by the industry,” said Hickey.

The AHC represents all segments of the horse industry, including all major national horse racing organiz

Thomason Elected AHC Trustee


Bill Thomason has been elected to the American Horse Council Board of Trustees. Thomason has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of Keeneland Association in Lexington, KY since September 1, 2012. Previously, he was the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Keeneland.

“I am very pleased to be serving on the AHC Board,” said Thomason. “I have participated with the AHC in various ways over the years, and very much appreciate the importance and good work they have done for many years. I am glad to be a part, and help however I can.”

“The AHC is very pleased that Bill Thomason has agreed to serve on the board,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “He has been a leader in the racing industry for many years and his experience will be an excellent addition to the AHC’s Board.”

Thomason is a member of The Jockey Club, a board member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Foundation, Kentucky Chamber and Central Kentucky Chapter of the American Heart Association. He formerly served as the assistant treasurer for the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association/Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders and was a member of the audit committee of Breeders’ Cup Limited. Thomason also previously served as treasurer of the Thoroughbred Club of America.

In addition to his involvement in the equine industry, Thomason is an active community leader. He was chairman of the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce (now Commerce Lexington), chairman of the Lexington Arts and Cultural Council, and chairman of the Board of First United Methodist Church.

Thomason graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.S. in Accounting in 1977 and a Masters in Business Administration in 1978. He worked for two years at the accounting firm of Alexander Grant & Co., before joining Mill Ridge Farm, where he worked for 28 years as Financial and Administrative Manager.

Thomason replaces Nick Nicholson, who was the head of Keeneland for many years and a past Chairman of the AHC. “Nick Nicholson has been involved with the AHC for nearly 30 years in various capacities,” noted Hickey. “We appreciate his long-standing service to our organization and the horse industry in general and know we can call on his expertise whenever we need it.”

AHC Testifies Before House Committee on Soring Bill


On November 13, 2013, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, held a hearing regarding the Prevent All Soring Tactics Act of 2013 (H.R. 1518) or PAST Act. American Horse Council (AHC) President Jay Hickey testified in support of the bill.

“The AHC supports the PAST Act and believes it has the potential to end the abusive practice of soring in the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, and Spotted Saddle Horse industries,” said Hickey. “I was happy to appear before the committee and explain why the AHC and almost all national horse show associations support the bill.”

Soring is an abusive practice used to cause pain in a horse’s forelegs and produce an accentuated show gait for competition. It usually involves the use of action devices, chemicals, pads, wedges alone or in combination with the application of irritating or blistering chemical agents to a horse’s forelegs. The showing, sale, auction, exhibition, or transport of horses that have been “sored,” has been prohibited by the Horse Protection Act (HPA) since 1970.

“Despite the HPA’s 43 year prohibition on soring, a 2010 USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report found that this practice continues to be a problem in the “big lick” or “performance horse” segments of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, and Spotted Saddle Horse industry,” said Hickey.

The PAST act would amend the HPA to prohibit a Tennessee Walking Horse, a Racking Horse, or a Spotted Saddle Horse from being shown, exhibited, or auctioned with an “action device,” or “a weighted shoe, pad, wedge, hoof band or other device or material” if it is constructed to artificially alter the gait of the horse and is not strictly protective or therapeutic. These new prohibitions would not apply to other breeds that do not have a history of soring.

The legislation would also increase fines and penalties for violations, including the potential for a lifetime ban for repeat offenders.

Additionally, the bill would create a new licensing process for horse show inspectors, eliminating the current ineffective designated qualified persons (DQPs) program. The bill would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to train, license and appoint new independent inspectors for shows and other HPA-regulated activities that wish to hire an inspector. Licensed or accredited veterinarians would be given preference for these positions. The decision to hire and cost of an inspector would still reside with the management of a show, sale or auction.

“Because soring remains a problem, the PAST Act amendments to the HPA are clearly needed and justified. The bill is narrowly focused on the problem it is intended to solve and does not adversely affect or unnecessarily burden other segments of the horse show industry that are not soring horses and have no history of soring horses,” said Hickey. “Soring is unquestionably abusive and its continued prevalence is severely damaging the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse, and Spotted Saddle Horse industries and negatively impacting public perception of other segments of the horse industry.”

“The wider horse community might not realize it, but soring is garnering more and more adverse and unnecessary publicity for the horse industry at large. Witness the press surrounding Jackie McConnell and Larry Wheelon and others. This affects the non-walking horse sectors of the show industry because the public does not understand the differences between various show breeds and what they do.”

“The public sees other breeds doing an animated gait and thinks it is a walking horse and being sored, rather than performing its natural gaits. That reflects badly on the entire show horse industry,” says Hickey.

Also, testifying in support of the PAST Act were Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, Executive Vice President & CEO American Veterinary Medical Association, Marty Irby, International Director and Former President Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ & Exhibitors’ Association, Teresa Bippen, President Friends of Sound Horses, and Donna Benefield, International Walking Horse Association.

Witnesses opposing the bill were Julius Johnson, Commissioner Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and Dr. John Bennett, on behalf of Performance Show Horse Association.

Other national organizations that support the bill include, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, U.S. Equestrian Federation, the American Quarter Horse Association, the American Paint Horse Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, the Pinto Horse Association of America, the Arabian Horse Association, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the United Professional Horsemen’s Association, the Appaloosa Horse Club, and the American Veterinarian Medical Association as well as many other state and local organizations.

The bill has broad bipartisan support and currently has 223 co-sponsors in the House and 26 co-sponsors in the Senate.

The full written testimony of the AHC and full hearing can be viewed at:

Barr and Tonko Named Co-Chairs of the Congressional Horse Caucus


Congressmen Andy Barr (R-KY) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) are Co-chairs of the Congressional Horse Caucus in the 113th Congress. They replace Congressmen Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY)

“Congressman Cardoza and Guthrie were great co-chairs of the Caucus and we are grateful for all their work on behalf of the horse community,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “We are happy to have Congressmen Barr and Tonka as the new co-chairs. They both represent districts that are important to the horse industry and we are lucky to have their leadership in the 113th Congress.”

The Congressional Horse Caucus is a bipartisan group of Members of the House of Representatives formed to educate Congress and their staffs about the importance of the horse industry in the economic, agricultural, sporting, gaming and recreational life of the nation.

“I am honored to represent the ‘Horse Capital of the World’ and excited that I have been named co-chairman of the Congressional Horse Caucus,” said Congressman Barr, who represents Lexington, Kentucky’s Second Congressional District.

“Kentucky’s signature horse industry provides Kentuckians with nearly 100,000 direct and indirect jobs and has a $4 billion economic impact on our state annually. As co-chairman, I have already been hard at work recruiting new members to the caucus and planning meetings to educate Congress on issues impacting the horse industry. I am glad that Congressman Paul Tonko from New York will be my co-chair and appreciate his bipartisan leadership as we plan these events,” said Barr.

“I commend Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) for his leadership as co-chairman in the last Congress and appreciate the opportunity to continue his work and promote the health of the horse industry,” added Barr.

“The equine industry represents a large number of quality jobs, economic growth and a way of life not only in my Upstate New York district, but across the nation in rural and urban areas alike. I look forward to serving as co-chair of the Congressional Horse Caucus and working with my colleagues in the House in a bipartisan manner to promote this sector of our country’s culture, tradition, and economy,” said Congressman Tonko, who represents New York’s 20th Congressional District, which includes Saratoga.

The AHC hopes all members of the horse community will contact their Representatives and urge them to join the Congressional Horse Caucus.

Women Leaders and Obamacare Added to AHC’s Issues Forum


The theme for the American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum is “A Healthy Horse, A Healthy Industry.” This year’s Forum will be held on Tuesday, June 18, in Washington, DC during the AHC’s annual convention, which will run from June 16 to 19 at the Washington Court Hotel.

In addition to reports on the progress of the National Equine Health Plan and the AHC’s Marketing Consortium to reinvigorate the horse industry, the Forum will feature a panel on the future of the industry featuring four women who are leading national organizations this year and a presentation on how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” will affect the horse industry.

“Women have always been leaders in the horse industry,” noted Jay Hickey, AHC President. “But this year we have four outstanding women leading major national organizations. We thought it would be interesting to get their perspective on the future of various sectors in the industry.” Scheduled to speak are Johne Dobbs, President of the American Quarter Horse Association, Dr. Ann Dwyer, DVM, President of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Cynthia Richardson, President of the Arabian Horse Association, and Chrystine Tauber, President of the U.S. Equestrian Federation.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was passed in March, 2010, is the most sweeping social legislation enacted since Medicare in 1965. It is expected to transform U.S. healthcare delivery and will affect members of the horse industry just like others. “Obamacare is an issue that the industry must be preparing for on an ongoing basis,” said Hickey. “Indeed some should have already taken steps to be ready. We hope that the presentation on Obamacare will help employers in the horse community understand their obligations under the new law.”

Vanda McMurtry, an attorney with Davis & Harman in Washington, DC will explain what those in the industry should be doing now and what they should be prepared to do in the future under the new requirements. Mr. McMurtry has worked in the insurance industry and represented insurance companies for many years. He also has Washington experience.

The convention will include the AHC’s Congressional Reception, the annual Congressional Ride-In, meetings of all AHC committees, the meeting of the Unwanted Horse Coalition and the AHC’s Breed Roundtable, which brings together leaders of the horse industry to discus common issues of importance.

The annual Congressional Ride-In will take place on Wednesday, June 19. The Ride-In allows members of the horse community to meet with their elected representatives and federal officials to discuss important issues affecting them. All members of the horse community are encouraged to participate, even if they don’t attend the AHC convention.

More information on these Forums and the entire AHC annual meeting, including registration and hotel information, can be found on the AHC’s website, or by contacting the AHC.