Category Archives: Horse Care/Protection

The Basics of Botulism

Basic management measures, combined with vaccination, will reduce your horse’s risk of contracting this deadly form of poisoning.

Clostridium botulinum bacteria produce the deadliest biological toxin known to man. When ingested, botulinum toxin causes botulism, a fast-acting, often fatal form of food poisoning. Horses who consume feed tainted with botulinum toxin may die within hours or days unless they receive fast, appropriate treatment.

And then there’s the really bad news: The types of C. botulinum most dangerous to horses are present in the soil and in the grasses and hays that they eat. Especially if you live in or purchase forage grown in a region where C. botulinum is endemic, eliminating the bacteria from a horse’s environment is impossible.

But the news isn’t all bad. C. botulinum proliferates and produces botulinum toxin only under specific conditions, which can be prevented with basic management precautions, and vaccination of at-risk horses offers an additional layer of protection. So botulism is fairly rare in horses, and with a few basic steps to keep your horse’s food and water fresh and clean, you can greatly reduce the risk that he will ever have a problem with this disease. Here’s what you need to know.

Profile of a killer

Clostridium botulinum is an anaerobe, which means it thrives in the absence of oxygen. And, when environmental conditions aren’t right for it — when it is in a dry, oxygen-rich atmosphere, for example — it goes dormant, encasing itself in a tough, protective outer membrane called an endospore. In this form, the bacteria do little harm to a horse.

But when external conditions change in its favor — that is, in anaerobic conditions with the right amount of moisture — C. botulinum emerges from its dormant state and multiplies rapidly. As each individual bacterium matures and dies, it releases its deadly toxin.

Seven distinct types of botulinum toxin have been identified — designated by letters from type A through G — but only types A, B and C are likely to produce illness in horses in the United States. Types A and B both reside in soil, but your risk of encountering them depends largely on where you live. Type A is more common in the West, and type B is seen more frequently east of the Mississippi River, especially in Kentucky and the Mid-Atlantic States. Type C is found in animal carcasses and bird droppings, which can be anywhere. However, up to 85 percent of all cases of equine botulism are caused by type B, which means that the risks are highest for horses in the eastern United States.

Botulinum toxin can cause illness in three ways:

  • Food poisoning (botulism). Botulism is most likely to occur in horses who eat forage stored in a moist, anaerobic environment that encourages the proliferation of C. botulinum. This might occur, for example, if hay is baled while still moist or stored improperly; the wetness at the center of the bale causes spoilage and creates the ideal conditions for C. botulinum. Improperly processed haylage or silage — fermented forages normally fed to cattle — may also cause botulism in horses, as can clumps of grass clippings left by mowers. A far less common threat is feed or forage that has been contaminated by bird droppings or an animal carcass.
  • Toxicoinfectious botulism (“shaker foal” syndrome). Foals are vulnerable to this form of botulism when they ingest the endospores as they nibble on grass or other things in their environment. The bacteria may activate and form colonies in gastric ulcers or the intestines.
  • Wound botulism. Dirt and contaminants can carry endospores into a wound; if the surface heals over, an anaerobic environment may be created that allows the bacteria to gain a foothold within the surrounding tissues. This is more likely to occur with punctures and other deeper wounds.

A deadly threat

No matter how the botulinum toxin gets into the horse’s body, the effects are the same. The toxin binds to the synapses of the nerves that control the muscles, blocking the transmission of nerve impulses to the muscles. With no source of input, the muscles go flaccid, causing paralysis. Signs may appear within hours or days and often begin with the inability to swallow. A foal might have difficulty nursing.

As the toxin spreads, the effects begin to appear throughout the body, with signs such as muscle tremors, generalized weakness, a limp tail and gait issues. The severity and extent of the paralysis depends upon the amount of the toxin that a horse consumes. If he ingested only a little, he may just become less active and eat less before recovering after several days. A large dose of botulinum toxin will likely cause a horse to become recumbent. In the most serious cases, the cause of death is often suffocation, as the toxin paralyzes the muscles that facilitate breathing.

The early signs of botulism — difficulty swallowing, lack of eating, lying down, flaccid muscles — can look like other conditions, such as choke, colic or neurological disorders. Signs more specific to botulism include muscle tremors and weakness in the tongue; if you gently pull the horse’s tongue out of his mouth, he won’t be able to retract it. Even if you’re not sure it’s botulism, it’s best to call your veterinarian right away if you notice any of these signs, however subtle they might be.

If you suspect botulism, remove all food from all animals on your farm, including cattle and other livestock, as you wait for the veterinarian to arrive. Botulism often occurs in outbreaks when multiple animals are fed the same tainted forage. You’ll also want to keep the horse quiet and still to avoid exhausting his weakened muscles.

The only effective treatment for botulism is to administer an antitoxin, which must be done as soon as possible. The antitoxin works by binding with botulinum toxin that is still in circulation in the bloodstream, preventing the toxin molecules from binding with nerve cells and preventing the disease from progressing. Nothing can be done to treat neurons that have already been blocked. If treatment is delayed, the horse may be beyond help. If multiple horses have been fed from the same source, your veterinarian may suggest administering the antitoxin to all of them, in case others have ingested the toxin but are not yet showing signs of illness.

If the affected horse can be kept alive, the damaged nerves will heal within a few weeks, and he can make a full recovery. In the meantime, depending on the severity of his signs, he may require extensive supportive care, including nutrition and fluids via intubation.

Vaccinate “at risk” horses

Currently, only one vaccine against C. botulinum is approved for use in horses in the United States. The vaccine, which works against C. botulinum type B, is about 95 percent effective, and though it may not prevent all cases of botulism, it can reduce the severity of the illness and increase a horse’s chances for survival. The vaccine does not provide cross protection against C. botulinum types A or C.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) includes botulism on its list of “risk-based” vaccines, which means it is recommended for those horses most likely to come in contact with the bacteria or toxin. However, according to the AAEP, “Vaccination is warranted for all horses, as C. botulinum type B can be found in soil samples from many areas of the country and movement of horses or forage from non-endemic to endemic regions occurs frequently.”

What that means, says Amy Johnson, DVM, DACVIM, of the University of Pennsylvania, is that “it would be reasonable to vaccinate any horse for botulism, even though certain areas of the country are very low-risk. Since horses move around so much these days, it is possible that the horse would end up in an area of the country where botulism is more common. Likewise, hay and other forages can be shipped long distances, so it is possible that a horse in a low-risk geographic region could be exposed if fed hay from a high-risk geographic region.”

In Kentucky and the Mid-Atlantic States where botulin type B is most common, veterinarians may recommend the vaccine for all horses. “That is because the organism is so prevalent in the soil that sporadic botulism cases occur even in adult horses who are not fed high-risk feedstuffs, such as fermented feeds or large bale hay,” says Johnson. “Also, any horse fed high-risk feeds should be vaccinated.”

Vaccination is also recommended for pregnant mares, especially in endemic areas, to protect their foals against toxicoinfectious botulism. Foals can receive a three-dose series at four-week intervals, beginning at the age of 2 to 3 months, if the dam was vaccinated, or as early as 2 weeks of age if she was not.

Ask your veterinarian whether vaccinating against botulism might be advisable for your horse. If there’s any doubt, consider vaccinating anyway. “The vaccine is not that expensive and almost never causes adverse effects,” says Johnson.

Other preventive measures

  • Discard damp or moldy hay. If a hay bale gets moist, the anaerobic conditions at the center create ideal conditions for the growth of C. botulinum. Large round bales are especially susceptible to retaining moisture at their centers. Even if your hay is dry now, any previous dampness may have harbored bacterial growth, and the toxins left behind will still be present. The toxin itself will not detectable by color or smell, but the damp conditions that fostered the bacteria will leave hay smelling musty or moldy. Examine each flake as you peel it off the bale, and discard any hay that is moist or smells funky.
  • Protect stored hay from the elements. Periodically check for leaks in the roof and walls of your hay storage area. Stacking hay on wooden pallets will help air circulate and prevent moisture from accumulating underneath.
  • Offer hay in feeders. Hay dropped on the ground can easily become contaminated, and rain and mud will help foster the growth of bacteria. Instead, provide hay in a commercial or homemade feeder that keeps the forage dry. Especially if you live in a wetter climate, consider investing in an enclosed feeder that will keep out the rain and snow. Clean up dropped hay regularly. If your horse has a condition, such as heaves, that requires you to soak his hay, do not soak more than he can eat in one meal.
  • Avoid high-risk forages. Haylage — grass that is baled with a higher moisture content and sealed in plastic — is typically meant for cattle or sheep, which are less susceptible to botulism than horses. Some people do feed haylage to horses, especially if they need a low-dust alternative to dry hays, and haylage that has been properly processed and sealed ought to be safe, but the risk of botulism remains, even when the forage seems fresh. Definitely do not feed horses any haylage from bags that have been torn open or that look or smell spoiled. Also, don’t let your horse graze in areas where clumps of cut grass remain from a recent mowing, and warn your neighbors against tossing grass clippings over the fence as “treats” for your herd.
  • Watch out for dead animals and bird droppings. Botulism type C is fairly rare, but you do want to avoid feed or water that has been tainted by carcasses or droppings. Discard any hay or bagged feeds if you discover body parts from dead animals, and routinely check water buckets or troughs for drowning victims. (A mesh escape ramp built into the side of a large trough can help small animals who fall in to climb out safely.) Prevent birds from nesting in areas where a lot of droppings would fall onto feeders or stored hay, and do not use poultry manure as fertilizer on hayfields or pastures.

This article first appeared in the October 2017 issue of EQUUS (Volume #481).

US Equestrian Federation
4047 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, KY 40511
P. 859 258 2472 , F. 859 231 6662

Multiple Grade 1 Winner Private Zone Euthanized

Private Zone at Old Friends (Photo: Laura Battles)

GEORGETOWN, KY – FEBRUARY 3, 2018 – Multiple grade 1 winner Private Zone was euthanized at Park Equine Hospital at Woodford in Versailles, KY.

According to Park’s attending veterinarian, Dr. Bryan Waldridge, the cause of death was complications of duodenitis/proximal jejunitis (anterior enteritis).

“This is a small intestinal colic characterized by inactivity of the small intestine and large amounts of reflux from the stomach,” said Dr. Waldridge.

A full necropsy report is pending.

The 9-year-old gelded son of Macho Uno had been pensioned at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility in Georgetown, KY, since last April.

Bred in Ontario by Adena Springs, Private Zone (Macho Uno – Auburn Beauty, by Siphon (BRZ)) made his first nine starts in Panama where he became a group 1 winner.

A temperamental colt, he was purchased by former jockey Rene Douglas and was campaigned by his Good Friends partnership under several conditioners, including Doug O’Neill, Alfredo Velazquez, Jorge Navarro, and Brian Lynch.

After losing his first eight starts in North America, Private Zone went on to become a four-time grade 1 winner with his breakthrough coming in the 2013 grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational Stakes.

He counted the 2014 grade 1 Cigar Mile and 2015 grade 1 Forego Stakes among his victories.

Private Zone retired with 10 wins from 33 starts and $2,924,620 in earnings.

“We were so grateful when the owners of Private Zone retired him to us, and that only increases our sadness that he died this morning,” said Old Friends President Michael Blowen. “He was a marvelous animal, and we are thankful to everyone who cared for him at Park Equine Hospital for the last two weeks trying to help him overcome this difficult illness.  Private Zone was a fighter to the end, trying to help us help him.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for over 175 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Multiple Graded-Stakes Winner Green Mask to Old Friends

GEORGETOWN, KY – JANUARY 30, 2018 – Multiple graded-stakes winner and sprint superstar Green Mask has been retired to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, KY.

Trained most recently by Brad Cox for owner Abdullah Saeed Almaddah, the now 7-year-old gelded son of Mizzen Mast was retired from racing in September of 2017 after suffering a fractured sesamoid in his left foreleg during a workout at Belmont Park.

In a career that spanned five seasons, Green Mask traversed the country — starting on 11 different ovals — as well as the globe, racing at Woodbine, Meydan, and Sha Tin.  His greatest victories include the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes, the Grade 3 Twin Spires Turf Sprint, and his last start, the Troy Handicap, where he posted a personal best 111 Beyer Speed Figure and pushed his career earnings over the seven-figure mark.

Before the career-ending injury, Green Mask was considered a top contender for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar last fall.

In his 24 lifetime starts Green Mask captured eight wins and career earnings of $1,064,761.

“Green Mask always gave 110 percent on the track,” said trainer Cox, “so when he was injured it was devastating to the whole team. We’re so thankful to New Bolton Center and Dr. Richardson, who help save his life and make retirement even possible. And we are so grateful that Green Mask will now spend his retirement years at Old Friends.”

“Our thanks to Brad Cox, Mr. Almaddah, and the people at Dell Ridge who took such good care of Green Mask following his surgery,” said Old Friends’ Blowen. “We’re very thrilled to have him with us. He was a wonderful racehorse that certainly earned his retirement, and his wonderful disposition, I’m sure, will make him a big fan favorite.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for over 180 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Hollywood Gold Cup Winner Early Pioneer Euthanized

Early Pioneer at Old Friends (Photo: Laura Battles)

GEORGETOWN, KY – JANUARY 15, 2018 – Early Pioneer, winner of the 2000 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), was euthanized January 12th at Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement sanctuary in Georgetown, KY, where he had been pensioned since 2009.

The 23-year-old son of Rahy and winner of over $1.1 million was experiencing complications of chronic laminitis and cancer was also suspected.  The results of a full necropsy are pending.

Prior to Early Pioneer’s Gold Cup win, he finished second in both the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (G2) and the Californian (G2) after upsetting the San Bernardino Handicap (G2) at odds of 27-1. The flashy chestnut was bred by Mr. and Mrs. John C. Mabee and raced in their colors before being claimed for $62,500 in 1998.

Typecast as a sprinter, new trainer Vladimir Cerin gave Early Pioneer a shot at two turns, and it made all the difference. He was never finer than in the 2000 Gold Cup, where he bested favorite General Challenge at odds of 24-1.

Early Pioneer raced only twice after his Gold Cup win, and was retired. However, in 2007 he was discovered racing on the unofficial fair circuit. He was bought for $1,000 by Nevada horseman Shawn Davis who later worked with Arizona’s Second Call program and equine aftercare advocate Rhonda “Cass” Dewey to permanently retire the former champ.

Given his background, Dewey thought Early Pioneer was a good candidate for Old Friends and contacted founder Michael Blowen.

“Early Pioneer was one of four Hollywood Gold Cup winners that have been retired at Old Friends, and we were so proud to have him,” said Blowen. “He was a fan favorite and a farm favorite, and I know he will be missed by all.

“Special thanks to Cass Dewey and all those who helped him and helped him find his way to Old Friends,” Blowen added.  “Caring for him has been a privilege.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for over 175 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints Lend Old Friends a Helping Hand

Photo: Retired race mare Misszoey Belle and equine surgeon Dr. Chris Johnson at Old Friends.

GEORGETOWN, KY – JANUARY 5, 2018 – Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility based in Georgetown, KY, owes a big debt to the NFL this week — specifically New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Thanks to the Big Ten record-holder — who will kick off against the Carolina Panthers in the first NFL Wild Card Round this Sunday — one of Old Friends’s retired mares was able to have a life-saving operation.

Old Friends is a non-profit sanctuary for more than 175 retired race horses, including two Kentucky Derby winners and numerous other champions. When one of its residents, Misszoey Belle, a now 13-year-old mare, showed sudden and severe signs of a gastrointestinal disorder in mid-December, it was quickly determined that surgery was her only chance for survival.

A hard-knocker on the track, Misszoey Belle had 74 starts and 7 wins, earning only $70,000 in her career and racing until she was eight. After he final start she was bought back by her breeder, John C. Oxley (whose Classic Empire won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2016), and retired to Old Friends.

The mare was rushed to Lexington, KY’s Park Equine Clinic, which usually provides Old Friends with cost-free veterinary care. But an equine surgeon was not available. So the clinic called in Dr. Christopher Johnson, whose Equine Surgical Services is located in nearby Versailles, KY.

She underwent surgery to repair a very serious intestinal obstruction known as an epiploic foramen entrapment. Her life spared, Misszoey Belle returned to Old Friends a few days later and is now recovering well with an excellent prognosis.

Discovering that the mare was an Old Friends retiree, Dr. Johnson offered to waive his fee. But knowing that he was a huge Saints fan, Old Friends resident veterinarian Dr. Bryan Waldridge offered Johnson a concession: How about an autographed football?

“I went to high school in New Orleans, so I have been a Saints fan as long as I’ve been alive,” says Johnson.

Luckily, New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson is also a well-known racehorse owner, and one of his former runners, Saint Aloysius, was retired to Old Friends after suffering a career-ending injury last year.

Old Friends founder and President Michael Blowen made a call to the Saints’ office and Brees was kind enough to help out.

“We always love helping Old Friends and Michael,” said Greg Bensel, who manages GMB Racing for the Bensons and is also the Sr. Vice President of Communications for the Saints. “After all, he was there for us when we needed a good home for Saint Aloysius.

“Drew is so kind and giving with his time that when we need a signed ball he’s always available,” Bensel continued. “And to be honest, he loves the horse-racing industry and he loves that the horses at Old Friends get great care. So while he is busy planning for the Panthers game, I know he feels great about this.”

“It’s really great to see professional athletes such as Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints helping our professional athletes like Misszoey Belle when they need us most,” said Blowen. “We can’t thank the team and Dr. Johnson enough.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for 175 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen, (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Senate Draft Bill Denies Funds for Killing

Our wild horses and burros received a small victory from the United States Senate this Thanksgiving week.

The Senate Appropriations Committee released a draft version of their Interior Appropriations Bill on November 20, 2017. The draft language maintains protections for our wild horses and burros, and states that they cannot be killed or sold in any way that results in their destruction.

This draft language retains the status quo, meaning our wild horses and burros will be protected as they have been for nearly ten years.

“While this is only a temporary victory, we at The Cloud Foundation are extremely thankful for this good news out of the Senate,” said Lisa Friday, Director of Communications for The Cloud Foundation. “We are so grateful to Senators Murkowski and Udall, and the entire committee, for standing with the wild horses and burros today.”

This draft bill will enable the ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to begin negotiations on critical items within their respective draft bills. The House’s draft bill removed many of the protections for wild horses and burros. Now the negotiations will begin between the two bodies to determine what will end up in the final draft, including whether or not the killing of wild horses or burros will be allowed.

“Our work is not finished, but as we gather with our families to celebrate Thanksgiving, we at The Cloud Foundation are giving thanks not only to the Senators who stood with the wild ones, but also to the American public who spoke up loud and clear,” said Ginger Kathrens, Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation. “The thousands of calls to lawmakers made by wild horse and burro advocates across the country were instrumental in producing today’s good news.”

The Cloud Foundation
107 South 7th St
Colorado Springs, CO 80905
www.thecloudfoundation.org

Racing Warrior Midnight Secret Euthanized

Midnight Secret at Cabin Creek (Photo: Connie Bush)

GREENFIELD CENTER, N.Y. – NOVEMBER 17, 2016 – Racing warrior Midnight Secret was euthanized November 16 due to injuries sustained in a paddock accident.

The 20-year-old gelding was pensioned at Old Friends at Cabin Creek, the Thoroughbred Retirement Farm based in Greenfield Center, NY, an official satellite to the Old Friends Farm in Georgetown, KY.

Bred in New York by Flying Z Stables, Midnight Secret (Key Contender – Flannel Sheets, Triocala) raced almost exclusively at Finger Lakes and earned $212,749.  In 111 starts the game gelding had 14 wins and hit the boards and additional 51 times.

Debuting as a 2-year-old under trainer David Donk, Midnight Secret moved to Gregory Martin, then as a 4-year-old entered the barn of Oscar S. Barrera, Jr., who trained him for the rest of his career. Barrera transferred him to Finger Lakes, which was to remain his home track. There, he had a rivalry with fellow Old Friends at Cabin Creek resident Karakorum Patriot – from several square-offs, they scored about even. But few can beat Midnight Secret’s hardihood.

Barrera retired the horse at Cabin Creek in 2009.

As Barrera once noted: “You never read stories about horses like this, but they’ve got something special in their heart. For a 12-year-old, he was like a 2-year-old. I walked him every day and he’d be prancing.”

“He may not have been a stakes winner, but he was a champ to us,” said Cabin Creek farm manager Joann Pepper.  “He will be deeply missed.”

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for 175 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Joann Pepper, (518) 698-2377, cabincreek4@hotmail.com

Freedom for Sale: Wild Horses to Be Slaughtered

The wild horses and burros of the American West, symbols of American freedoms and values we share and hold dear, are under threat of losing the federal protections that keep them alive.

Protections defined by the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act are at tremendous risk since the Act was unanimously passed by Congress in 1971. The House Appropriations Committee has voted to allow the Bureau of Land Management, the federal body responsible for the care and stewardship of these animals, unlimited sales of captive wild horses and burros as part of the proposed 2018 budget. Now the Senate Appropriations Committee, followed by a joint House-Senate conference, will decide their fate. We have reason to believe that America’s mustangs are already being shipped for slaughter to Canada and Mexico – and as far afield as Japan where they are butchered and served as sushi.

It’s inexcusable. Unconscionable! And unless we press our lawmakers, the nightmare scenario of mass horse slaughter will become reality.

Taxpayer dollars would be used to fund and facilitate the roundup and sale of these animals from federal lands to a vicious and cruel slaughter. Federally funded horsemeat inspections and programs would pave the way for the return of barbarous horse slaughter to US soil.

If the proposed budget moves forward in its current form, as many as 96,000 captive and wild horses would be deemed “excess,” as if they were mere objects to get rid of. Mustangs and burros who are not already languishing in holding pens would potentially be gunned down on the very lands that were promised to sustain them decades ago.

To save America’s horses and burros from export and certain slaughter, we need your help and your donation of any amount to In Defense of Animals Wild Horse Campaign today.

In Defense of Animals has joined with the National Academy of Sciences and 40 other national organizations to propose humane, sustainable solutions for managing wild horses and burros on public lands. We are countering the ridiculous claims made by the Bureau of Land (mis)Management to smear the horses. Wild horses and burros have been made into scapegoats by the extractive and cattle industries which the BLM allows to exploit the very lands that were legally mandated to nurture our nation’s mustangs over 45 years ago – and all at taxpayer expense!

Your donation today will help In Defense of Animals fund and support practical solutions for the continued peaceful existence of our nation’s majestic mustangs.

Urgent action is needed! Our voices must be heard, and your donation today makes that happen.

Marilyn Kroplick, MD
President, In Defense of Animals

P.S. Our democratic process is being hijacked by wealthy special interests, and wild horses and burros are paying the price! More than 45 years ago, we promised as a nation to be stewards of these symbols of freedom. If we do not act soon, that promise will be broken and these living, feeling, majestic animals will be gone forever. Please fight for our nation’s horses and burros with your contribution to our Wild Horse Campaign now.

In Defense of Animals is involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to In Defense of Animals supports ALL of our worthy programs and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Thank you for your support and consideration.

In Defense of Animals
3010 Kerner, San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel. (415) 448-0048 Fax (415) 454-1031
idainfo@idausa.org

Congress Targets Our Wild Horses and Burros

Photo by Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

Special interests in the ranching, oil and gas and mining industries and the lawmakers who do their bidding have a nefarious but underreported agenda: to round up and destroy the wild horses and burros on America’s public lands.

This is not the first time they’ve tried, but this time, the stars are aligned in the worst way, and they just might succeed.

First, some quick history. Back in the 1950s, wild horses were at the brink of extinction. They had no federal protections. People known as Mustangers were chasing, rounding up and selling them for slaughter by the thousands. Anyone who has seen the classic 1961 Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe film The Misfits has a sense — albeit a sanitized, Hollywood sense — of this dirty work.

That changed when activist Velma Johnston, famously known as Wild Horse Annie, inspired the passage of the Wild Horse Annie Act in 1959, which provided some protection for these animals. That law was followed by even stronger legislation: the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. It expressly prohibited the hunting, capture, injury and disturbance of wild horses and burros.

Over the years, however, lawmakers have chipped away at this legislation, removing many of its vital protections. Tremendous damage was done by the 2004 Burns Amendment; it passed without so much as a hearing and permitted the sale of these animals for commercial purposes. Many ended up at slaughter.

The biggest threat to wild horses today is a group of ranchers — known as “welfare ranchers” — who use federal lands to graze their cattle. They have made it clear that they want the horses and burros gone. They believe they are entitled to the land and water rights for their livestock.

Though they style themselves as independent pioneers, these ranchers are given huge subsidies by the federal government, enabling them to lease our public lands for a pittance, while the wild horses and burros are rounded up and sent to holding facilities operated by the Bureau of Land Management, a division of the Interior Department.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, this program has cost the American taxpayer more than $1 billion over the past decade and is “ruinous to the public lands and the wildlife that inhabit it.”

There is no doubt that our wild horses and burros can be managed humanely, but that is not what is going on. Nearly 50,000 healthy animals are now being held captive in Bureau of Land Management holding facilities. Many suffer and die horrible deaths during the roundups, which are cruel and unnecessary.

Making matters worse, a five-year investigation released in July by the Wild Horse Freedom Federation accuses the bureau of deliberately trying to deceive American taxpayers and members of Congress about the costs and consequences of their actions.  READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Many thanks to Susan Wagner, Pres. of Equine Advocates, for writing this excellent OpEd for the New York Daily News.

Fall Happenings at Old Friends – Breeders’ Cup and More

1996 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Alphabet Soup (Photo © Laura Battles)

The Breeders’ Cup always brings back great memories, whether it’s Black Tie Affair and Alphabet Soup winning the Classic or our four Sprint winners: Precisionist, Gulch, Amazombie, and Cajun Beat. The greatest day in American racing brings the best to run against the best every year. Now, I always look at the entries for both handicapping information and, more importantly, speculating on who might be a future Old Friends resident once their racing and breeding careers are complete.

Special thanks to Hall of Famers — trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jerry Bailey — for signing the limited-edition, commemorative Maker’s Mark/Breeders’ Cup Champions for Charity “Cigar” bottle.

A few are still available and information about ordering can be found HERE.

All the money will be shared by Old Friends and The Edwin J. Gregson Foundation. For those who have already purchased one, we thank you for your support!

(PS: You don’t have to be at Breeders’ Cup to collect your bottle — other options are available.)

Keeneland’s 5th Annual Sporting Auction will be held Sunday November 19th at 2 pm at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion, and an item in the catalog will benefit Old Friends. “Sheep in a Meadow,” a 36″ x 57″ oil on board by German artist August Friedrich Albrecht Schenk, has been consigned by our friend Jim Smith, and proceeds from the sale will help the horses. You can see the catalog and register to bid online by CLICKING HERE.

For more information on any of our Fall happenings, call us at the office: (502) 863-1775.

Old Friends is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that cares for 175 retired racehorses. Its Dream Chase Farm, located in Georgetown, KY, is open to tourists daily by appointment. Old Friends also has a satellite facility in Greenfield Center, New York, Old Friends at Cabin Creek: The Bobby Frankel Division, which is also open to visitors. For more information on tours or to make a donation, contact the main farm at (502) 863-1775 or see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen, (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org