Equine Tax Parity Act Introduced


On March 6, 2012, Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) introduced the Equine Tax Parity Act (H.R. 998), which would make horses eligible for capital gains treatment after 12 months, rather than 24, similar to other business assets.

Under the current federal tax code, gains from sales by individuals of property used in a trade or business, including horses, qualify for long-term capital gains and are subject to the maximum capital gains tax rate of 15% for taxpayers earning less than $450,000 or 20% for those earning more. Since the individual tax rate can go as high as 39.6%, the lower rate is a real advantage.

“Horses held for breeding, racing, showing or draft purposes qualify for the capital gains rates only if they are held for 24 months. All other business assets (except cattle) qualify if held for 12 months,” Said AHC president Jay Hickey. “We believe this is unfair to the horse industry and there is no reason why we should not be treated the same as all other businesses.”

The Equine Tax Parity Act would end this discriminatory treatment of horses under the tax code and allow horse owners to enjoy the reduced rate upon sale after holding a horse for 12 months. For most owners and breeders shortening the capital gains holding period to 12 should be a benefit. Reducing the holding period by half would give many horse owners and breeders more flexibility to sell and market their horses. It would mean that every sale of a horse which is held for at least 12 months will qualify as a capital gain or loss unless that horse is held primarily for sale.

“We appreciate Congressman Barr introducing this legislation and highlighting this unfair tax treatment of horses, we will work with the Congressman to get it passed,” said Hickey.

Gagliano Elected AHC Trustee


James L. Gagliano of The Jockey Club has been elected to the American Horse Council Board of Trustees. Gagliano has been the president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club, the breed registry for all Thoroughbred horses in North America, since January 1, 2010. He had been the executive vice president and chief administrative officer of that organization for five years before that.

“The Jockey Club was a founding member of the American Horse Council when it was organized in 1969 and we have been an enthusiastic supporter and member ever since,” said Gagliano. “I have a great appreciation for the need for an organization such as the AHC. In addition to promoting and protecting the equine industry by representing its interests in Congress and before federal regulatory agencies on national issues of importance, the Horse Council is an invaluable resource to the industry itself. I look forward to helping in all these efforts.”

“The AHC is very pleased that Jim Gagliano has agreed to serve on the board,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “He has been involved in racing for many years and active in the legislative process, including testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee on the Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act. He has industry and Washington experience.”

Prior to joining The Jockey Club’s management team, Gagliano served as executive vice president of Magna Entertainment Corporation’s Maryland racing operations, where he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Maryland Jockey Club. He also served as president, MEC OTB, and group vice president, MEC Northern Group. Before that, Gagliano served as executive vice president and general manager of Greenwood Racing Inc. and worked in various roles during a 10-year stint with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

Since October 2010, Gagliano has served as vice chairman representing the Americas for the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities’ Executive Council.

Gagliano is married with three children and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Providence College.

Choate Joins AHC


Adam Choate has recently joined the American Horse Council staff as the Director of Health and Regulatory Affairs. His responsibilities will include equine health issues, welfare issues, and state, federal and international requirements regarding the movement of horses. He will be the principal AHC contact to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I am excited to apply the experience that I have working with state and federal legislation and regulations to the issues facing the horse industry today.”

Mr. Choate graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2006, where he double-majored in History and Psychology. In 2009, he earned his law degree from Mississippi College School of Law. Before coming to Washington, Adam served as an attorney for the Mississippi Department of Human Services. More recently, he worked as a legal fellow for U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS).

“The AHC is fortunate to have Adam join the staff,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “We are working on several important disease and welfare issues and his background will be important in helping us address them.”

Jim Shoemake Elected AHC Chairman


Jim J. Shoemake, past President of the American Quarter Horse Association and senior partner in the St. Louis law firm of Guilfoil, Petzall & Shoemake, L.L.C., was elected chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Horse Council (AHC) at the AHC’s annual meeting in Washington, DC on June 26. The AHC represents the horse industry before Congress and the federal regulatory agencies in Washington.

Shoemake and his wife Rita own a farm near Farmington, Missouri and have been involved in breeding and raising registered American Quarter Horses for many years. He received his undergraduate degree from Washington University and is a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law. Shoemake is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lindenwood University, founded in 1827, and serves on the boards of a number of other charitable and not-for-profit entities, including the American Quarter Horse Association, the Urological Research Foundation, and the Missouri Quarter Horse Association.

Shoemake succeeds Russell Williams, Vice Chairman of the United States Trotting Association.

“We are very fortunate to have Jim as the Chair of the AHC,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “His broad background in the horse industry, his legal skills, and his legislative experience when he worked in the U.S. Department of Justice will be great assets to the organization.”

“I appreciate the confidence the AHC has shown in me by electing me chair. We have some difficult issues before Congress and several agencies, but we will continue to protect the horse industry,” said Shoemake.

Dr. Jerry Black, past President of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, was elected AHC vice chair. Dr. Black received his undergraduate and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Colorado State University. He is presently the Wagonhound Land and Livestock Chair and Director of Undergraduate Programs in Equine Sciences at Colorado State University. Dr. Black recently completed two terms on the Executive Committee of the National Cutting Horse Association. He also owns Valley Oak Ranch, a stallion station, with his wife Melinda.

“Both Jim and Jerry have been AHC Trustees for some time. They know the issues the AHC must deal with and will step right into their new roles,” said Hickey.

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

AHC Presents 2012 Van Ness Award to Kentucky’s Madelyn Millard


Each year, the American Horse Council presents the Van Ness Award to a person who has shown leadership and service to the horse community in her state. It is awarded in memory of Mrs. Marjorie Van Ness, one of the founders of the New Jersey Horse Council and the AHC’s Coalition of State Horse Councils. This year’s award was presented to Madelyn Millard of Lexington, KY for her great service to the horse community in Kentucky and nationwide.

“As president of the Kentucky Horse Council (KHC), Ms. Millard has made her state council effective and critical to the industry’s health and involved at the state and national level,” said AHC president Jay Hickey in presenting the award at the recent AHC annual meeting. “During her tenure as president, Madelyn guided the KHC board and staff to develop novel programs in such diverse areas as horse welfare, equine professional education, youth support and recognition, trail protection, and legislative involvement and communications.”

One of Ms. Millard’s major goals was to educate both the general public and Kentucky elected officials that the term “horse industry” not only applies to big racing and breeding operations in Kentucky, but to all breeds and all activities. She helped to create programs that emphasized that horse farms, whether commercial or recreational, play a large part in the agricultural life of Kentucky. Other noteworthy programs she helped create are: Save Our Horses, which funds programs helping unwanted horses; Gelding and Euthanasia Clinics, which supplemented funding for horse owners’ whose incomes did not allow them to pay for these services; and an Equine Disaster Relief Fund to assist horse owners nationwide if they are victims of floods, tornadoes, or other natural disasters. “These are all great programs and models for other states to follow,” said Hickey.

Ms. Millard also had the vision to recognize that the Kentucky Horse Council was not just a state organization, but also an important participant in the national industry through equine connections and partnerships. She believes it is critical to be involved with the equine industry at the national level and has been active in the Coalition of State Horse Councils, first serving as vice chair in 2010-11 and then being elected Chair in 2012 at the AHC’s Annual Meeting.

“I am honored to have been chosen as the recipient of the Van Ness award. However, without the support of a great Kentucky Board of Directors and a truly outstanding Executive Director I would not be accepting this award today. They shared my vision and supported the creation of so many new programs and I share this award with them,” said Millard.

Ms. Millard currently manages the Equine Division of Waterwild Farm, a 530-acre family-owned farm in Lexington, Kentucky. She is responsible for 40-50 client horses, as well as twelve Waterwild-owned horses, most of which are sport/pleasure horses involved in disciplines from dressage to eventing. She personally rides gaited American Saddlebreds, an off-the-track Thoroughbred or a Morgan.

New Marketing Initiative to be Highlighted at AHC National Issues Forum


The American Horse Council’s National Issues Forum, entitled “Reinvigorating the Horse Industry,” will feature a new national marketing initiative for the horse industry that involves ten national associations and large corporate industry stakeholders. It will be announced at the forum on June 26 in Washington, DC, during the AHC’s annual meeting, which will run from June 25 to 27 at the Washington Court Hotel.

“This initiative involves major organizations and corporations in the horse industry,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “They have been meeting for about nine months; formed a coalition under the American Horse Council; committed funding for the effort for several years; and hired Patti Colbert Enterprises to draft a marketing plan. While the full marketing plan has not been finalized, the group thought the AHC’s Issues Forum would be a good place to announce its existence and activities to date and how other organizations can participate in the initiative in the future.”

A key component of the marketing initiative is a study that Pfizer Animal Health has completed to determine why people interested in horses do not own a horse and why they are not more involved with equine activities, either as participants or spectators. Stuart Meikle, Marketing Director, Equine, Pfizer Animal Health, will present the findings of that study, which is intended to identify recommendations for messaging strategies that will encourage more ownership and participation.

Patti Colbert and Janet Greenlee of Patti Colbert Enterprises, which will be leading the effort, will provide an outline of what the initiative hopes to accomplish and its plans to date. Patti Colbert has produced events and drafted marketing plans for the horse industry for some time. She developed the highly-successful Extreme Mustang Makeover events with the Bureau of Land Management and has produced several television programs on horses.

“The AHC is very pleased this initiative will be highlighted at the National Issues Forum so that others in the industry will be aware of it. Hopefully, this will lay the foundation for others in the horse community to take advantage of the proposals to connect horses and people once the plan is finalized,” said Hickey.

Already on the agenda for the program are presentations by The Jockey Club and the American Quarter Horse Association on their ongoing efforts to reinvigorate the horse industry.

On Tuesday afternoon, the National Issues Forum will host speakers on “Legislative Advocacy in the Electronic Age.” Congressman Bill Owens (D-NY) will be the featured speaker. Mr. Owens serves on the House Agriculture Committee.

The AHC’s annual Congressional Reception will take place on Tuesday night and the Congressional Ride-In on Wednesday, which provides an opportunity for the horse community to meet with their Members of Congress.

The AHC’s various committees, including the Unwanted Horse Coalition, will meet on Monday, June 25, to discuss issues affecting the equine community.

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

Congress Acts to Protect Commercial Packers in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks


Last week, Congress passed the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Backcountry Access Act, introduced by Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA). The bill directs the National Park Service (NPS) to issue permits to commercial horse and mule packers to operate in the wilderness areas of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Due to a lawsuit the NPS had not yet issued permits for the 2012 season.

“Commercial packers have been taking visitors into these parks for decades, allowing thousands of Americans to experience the backcountry of these parks,” said American Horse Council (AHC) Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass. “Without the leadership of Congressman Nunes who introduced and quickly passed this bill and the help of Senators Boxer and Feinstein Americans may have lost the opportunity to have this fantastic experience. This bill also saved the livelihoods of the commercial pack operators in the park and the jobs of their employees.”

Congressional action was needed due to a lawsuit filed by the High Sierra Hikers Association against the NPS concerning its management of commercial packer access to the wilderness areas of the parks. In January, a federal judge ruled that the NPS had violated the Wilderness act because it had not adequately addressed commercial stock use in a 2007 park management plan. The NPS then decided not to issue any permits to commercial packers for the 2012 season until the court case was settled.

The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to continue to issue permits to commercial packers to operate in the parks and complete a new wilderness stewardship plan within 3 years. The NPS will now have the time it needs to address the judge’s concerns in a new management plan without interrupting the operations of the commercial packers in the parks.

“Preserving commercial and private equestrian access to wilderness is important not just to horse owners, but for everyone who does not have the physical ability to hike in the backcountry and for the communities that rely on jobs created by tourists traveling to our national parks and forests to have these experiences,” said Pendergrass. “We are grateful to Congressman Nunes for taking action when this access was threatened.”

How Congress Can Affect Your Ability to Show Your Horse


If you are competing in a horse show this weekend, you might not realize it, but decisions made in Washington, D.C. impact you and your ability to show your horse. The American Horse Council (AHC) believes it is important everyone involved in showing horses at any level or in any discipline understands that federal legislation and regulations affect them.

A notable example of federal policy directly impacting horse shows is the amount of funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) receives to prepare for and respond to contagious equine disease outbreaks. Contagious diseases are a major concern for every segment of the horse community, but they can really negatively affect horse shows. “Remember the recent equine herpes outbreak at a reining event in Ogden, Utah,” said AHC Director of Health and Regulatory Affairs, Dudley Hoskins. “State and federal vets and organizations responded quickly to the outbreak. Even with quick action, horse shows and events were canceled in 36 states and it could have been worse. That incident was the most recent reminder that there is not a comprehensive federal plan, sufficient funding, or personnel to deal with contagious equine disease outbreaks. The AHC is working to change that and make sure USDA has the resources it needs to safeguard the horse industry.”

Federal policy also impacts competitors and horse shows in numerous other ways. For example, many trainers, barns, and breeders depend on temporary foreign workers for grooms and farm hands and need the H-2B (non-agricultural) and H-2A (agricultural) foreign worker programs to work efficiently.

“Many people who participate in horse shows don’t understand how important foreign guest workers are to the showing community.” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “Without these workers, who often have years of experience caring for horses, there would be a major shortage of skilled labor in the showing industry. Unfortunately, right now we are fighting new H-2B rules that could make the program too difficult and expensive to use.”

Additionally, quarantine regulations impact equestrians who compete internationally. In January, the AHC requested the USDA allow U.S. horses to travel to CEM-affected regions for up to 90 days before more burdensome re-entry requirements kick in; currently it is 60 days. “Making this change would reduce the stress on U.S. competition horses, reduce the expenses for owners, and provide a more level playing field against our international competitors without increasing the risk of future incursions of CEM,” said Hoskins.

The AHC encourages members of the horse show community to visit its website at ahcbeta.flywheelsites.com to learn how federal legislation and regulations impact them, and how they can get involved and support the AHC by becoming a member.

“Everyday we are here in Washington talking to Congress and the regulators to make sure they are aware of the concerns and needs of the $ 102 billion horse community. This is the only way to make sure equestrians will continue to have the ability to compete in their chosen equine discipline now and in the future,” said Hickey.

Dr. Rick Mitchell Appointed to AHC Board


International veterinarian, Rick Mitchell, DVM, MRCVS, has been named to the American Horse Council Board of Trustees. Dr. Mitchell has been involved in national and international equine competitions as both a rider and veterinarian. This summer’s Olympic Games in London will mark his fifth visit to the Olympics as an attending veterinarian for the U.S. Equestrian Team.

Dr. Mitchell will replace David O’Connor, President of the USEF, on the AHC board. “David has been very important to the AHC board and we appreciate his service and counsel,” noted Russell Williams, AHC chair.

“The AHC is very pleased to have Dr. Mitchell on the board,” said AHC president Jay Hickey. “Dr. Mitchell has been chair of the AHC Health and Regulatory Committee for several years and provided great advice and experience. He is a real ‘two-for’ in that he has veterinary expertise in equine diseases and international experience at the highest level of competition. As the equine show world gets smaller, that is the type of experience the AHC is fortunate to have.”

Dr. Mitchell was born in Greensboro, NC and lived there throughout childhood, participating in fox-hunting, and hunter/jumper competitions into adulthood.

Dr. Mitchell attended Guilford College majoring in biology then received his B.S. from North Carolina State University, and his DVM from Oklahoma State University. He is currently in private veterinary practice limited to equine medicine and surgery with an emphasis on lameness. He has been in practice with Fairfield Equine Associates in Newtown, CT since 1989, where he is president.

Dr. Mitchell is internationally certified in veterinary acupuncture and equine locomotor pathology and has authored many nationally and internationally published articles and textbook chapters on equine health care.

Dr. Mitchell has served on various boards, including the United States Equestrian Federation, Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners. He is a founding member of the International Society of Equine Locomotor Pathology.

“I am pleased to be on the AHC board and hope I can continue to make even more of a contribution to the AHC and the horse community,” said Dr. Mitchell.

Dr. Mitchell is married, has two children and three grandchildren.

DOL Withdraws Proposed Child Labor Rules on Farms


On April 26, the Obama Administration announced its plans to withdraw a Department of Labor (DOL) proposed child labor rule applicable to agriculture. The proposed rule would have severely limited the ability of young people to work on farms and ranches.

“We are pleased the Administration responded to the concerns of the agricultural community and decided against changing the current rules for young people working on farms and ranches. This was a poorly conceived rule and they did the right thing by withdrawing it,” said AHC President Jay Hickey.

The proposed rule would have placed new limitations on the ability of young people to work for pay on farms or ranches not owned solely by their parents and would have effectively barred employees under 16 from working in most capacities in agriculture, especially around livestock, such as horses.

The AHC had been working with a broad coalition of agricultural organizations to convince the Administration and Congress that these rules were ill-considered, would prevent young people from becoming involved in agriculture, and would negatively impact family farms and ranches. In November 2011, the AHC submitted comments opposing the rule that can be found here.

“When the DOL proposed this rule we don’t think they completely understood the impact it would have on young people who work in agriculture. Thousands of Americans from the agricultural community, including the horse community submitted comments to the DOL explaining the problems with this rule and also contacted their Member of Congress to express their concerns,” said AHC Legislative Director Ben Pendergrass. “The Administration listened and withdrew the rule. This is a good example of the way the system should work.”

The Administration has stated it will not re-propose any new regulations on this issue. Instead it will “work with rural stakeholders to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.”

The AHC encourages members of the horse community to visit its website ahcbeta.flywheelsites.com to learn how federal legislation and regulations impact them and how they can get involved.

If you have any questions please contact the AHC.