Agreement Paves Way for Export of U.S. Horses to China


Ky. Agriculture Commissioner Quarles praises resumption of equine exports to China.

Terry Branstad and Zhi Shuping after signing of an accord that allows the resumption of U.S. equine exports to China.  Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (center) and KTA-KTOB executive director Chauncey Morris (left of Quarles) look on.  (photo: Kentucky Department of Agriculture)

by Bloodhorse Staff

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles praised the resumption of equine exports to China at a signing ceremony in Beijing Nov. 6.

The agreement, signed by U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad and Minister Zhi Shuping of the People’s Republic of China, clears the way for the U.S. to export horses, including Thoroughbreds, to China, where a rapidly expanding racing industry has emerged.

“Today’s announcement is a game-changer for Kentucky’s horse industry,” said Quarles, who attended the signing ceremony in China. “This policy change is the result of work on the part of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and will greatly benefit our economy and workers. Today’s announcement is a victory for everyone in the Bluegrass State and all of Kentucky agriculture, from those who raise horses to the farmers who supply their feed.”

In 2015 the Chinese Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) placed a hold on the importation of live horses from America because of concerns about equine infectious anemia, a viral disease spread by blood-feeding insects and potentially fatal to members of the horse family.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association-Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, the American Quarter Horse Association, Keeneland Association, U.S. Livestock Genetics Export, and Quarles worked together to address concerns in China about equine infectious anemia. The effort began with a visit to China in the fall of 2016. Earlier this year, Quarles hosted a Chinese delegation in Kentucky for a site visit.

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A ‘nightmare’ fire leaves 23 horses dead in Lexington, KY

Story by as published on The Lexington Herald Leader

“I’ll never get this nightmare out of my mind,”

mercury-equine-centerRanch hand Peter Evsich, 55, sat in his pickup truck smoking a cigarette Sunday afternoon while watching over the smoldering ruins of a horse barn, with 23 dead horses somewhere under the barn’s collapsed metal roof.

The Thoroughbreds were part of a group housed in a barn at the Mercury Equine Center off Russell Cave Road. The fire started just after midnight and may have been due to lightning or an electrical issue, said owner Eric Reed.

Evsich and five other employees ran into the wooden barn to save the animals, said Reed, who was also on the scene as the fire raged. One of the rescuers didn’t take time to dress before jumping in half naked to save the horses, Reed said. A total of 13 horses were saved, including one named Old Fashioned, valued at well over $100,000, one of the ranch hands said.

“They were heroes, the people who work for me,” Reed said. “They went above and beyond what I could even imagine anybody trying to do. We ran into the barn, the smoke was so black we couldn’t even see. The only thing you could see was the flames.”

Most of the horses were yearlings who “were very well-bred,” Reed said. One of the horses killed included a 3-year-old filly who had recently won $100,000 in a stakes race, Reed said. Between the horses and the value of the barn, more than $2 million was lost in the fire, he said.

“I’ll never get this nightmare out of my mind,” Reed said.

Evsich has worked at Mercury for nine years doing every job imaginable. On Sunday afternoon, he helped identify each dead horse and to monitor the scene of the fire to make sure the wind did not kick up more flames.

“It’s a tragedy,” Evsich said. “One was supposed to go racing tomorrow up in Ohio.”

In February 2015, a fire at Chanteclair Farm in Versailles killed six Thoroughbred horses. Eight other Thoroughbreds died in a fire in May 2014. The horses perished in a barn listed as the John T. Ward Stables located behind Keeneland Race Course and across Rice Road from Keeneland Gate 3.

Reed spent Sunday afternoon notifying the owners of the horses who live in California, Texas, and Ohio, among others. Reed believes that more horses could have been saved if the fire department had arrived sooner.

“There’s a fire station five minutes down the road but it took 39 minutes before they could get there to help us,” Reed said. “We actually called 911 twice asking where is the fire department. It’s absolutely unacceptable. … The fire department really let us down.”

On Monday afternoon, Mayor Jim Gray’s spokeswoman, Susan Straub, said that an analysis of 911 records showed that it took about 20 minutes for the fire department to be dispatched and arrive at Mercury.

“We continue to investigate the amount of time it took for the firetrucks to be dispatched,” Straub said. “Once dispatched, it took the trucks approximately 13 minutes to reach the scene. Fire Department administration maintains that is a reasonable time, given road conditions and weather.”

The Mercury Equine Center spans 60 acres, and has three large barns with 160 stalls. The center was home to about 70 horses before the fire.


Wild horses in Eastern Kentucky face threats

Horses should not be “at fault” for trying to survive wherever they are.  Special interest/human actions endanger horses, and these actions are the bigger “problem.”  –  Debbie

SOURCE: Lexington Herald Leader


Horses roam free on old surface mines in several Eastern Kentucky counties. Here, a mare and foal stand near a road. Photo courtesy of Kentucky Humane Society.

By Bill Estep
Horses have roamed free for decades on old surface mines in Eastern Kentucky, but with unchecked breeding and owners apparently turning out more mares and stallions in recent years, the population has increased to the point of concern, according to animal-welfare advocates.
The horses can endanger themselves and drivers by wandering onto hilly roads, and face untreated health problems and potential food shortages in the winter.
“There’s a problem that is growing,” said Lori Redmon, head of the Kentucky Humane Society. “There are some sites that are currently not able to sustain the horse population.”
The horses roam on mined, unfenced areas in several counties, including Knott, Breathitt, Leslie, Martin, Magoffin, Perry, Floyd, Harlan and Bell.
In surface mining, companies blast the tops or sides off mountains to uncover coal seams, then plant vegetation in reclaiming the sites. That has created tens of thousands of acres of relatively level land where horses can graze.
It’s not clear how many horses there are on mined sites in the state’s eastern coalfield.  David Ledford, head of the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation, said he’d heard an estimate of 3,000 to 5,000, but noted there have been no formal surveys.  People working with the Kentucky Humane Society saw more than 500 horses in five counties during a count in March 2014, according to its website.
Some of the horses have owners who see to their needs and collect them to ride. Some are tame and readily approach strangers.
In other cases, however, owners are taking advantage of free grazing, with no agreements to let their horses run on reclaimed land, animal advocates say.
Some of the horses were turned out by owners who could not afford to care for them or no longer wanted them. Many younger ones were born on the mines and have never been handled by humans.
Frank Clemons, a deputy sheriff in Breathitt County, said there is a misconception that all the horses on mined sites are abandoned.
Clemons said horses on a large reclaimed mine near his home have owners who take care of their animals and have agreements with landowners to let the horses roam the site, Clemons said.  “The horses back there are as fat as mine,” Clemons said.
It’s true that many of the free-roaming horses are healthy, but some suffer from malnutrition and untreated health problems.
Karen Gustin, head of the Kentucky Equine Humane Center in Jessamine County, estimated 30 percent of the horses she has seen on reclaimed mines don’t look to be in good shape.  And even some of the ones that look good could have damaging parasites, Gustin said.
The center cares for abandoned or surrendered horses and tries to find homes for them. It has taken in more than a dozen horses from Eastern Kentucky the last three years, Gustin said.  Gustin said some of the free-roaming horses are emaciated, and many lack vaccinations and proper care for their teeth and feet.  “They can be in horrible physical condition,” she said.
Many of the mined sites have adequate grass for the horses in the summer, and year-round in cases, but there are concerns about shortages in the winter at some sites.

Survey Shows “Live” Horses are a Big Business in Kentucky

Source: By BRUCE SCHREINER as published in the Westport News

“Slaughtered Horses worth only pennies on the dollar while live equines bring in Billions!”

LOUISVILLE, KY — Turns out the world’s self-proclaimed horse capital can put its money where its mouth is.

The horse industry pumped almost $3 billion into the state’s economy last year, according to the Kentucky Equine Survey, the first comprehensive snapshot of Kentucky’s horse industry since 1977 and the first-ever detailed economic impact study of the equine sector.

The study was released Friday by the University of Kentucky‘s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Kentucky Horse Council in Lexington.

The nearly $3 billion included money spent on feed, fencing and veterinarian and farrier services, said Jill Stowe, a UK associate professor of agricultural economics who led the 2012 survey.

It also took into account money generated by businesses that supply veterinarian clinics and others providing services to horse owners. The amount did not include horse-related tourism spending, the survey’s authors said.

Kentucky’s racing sector claimed the biggest economic impact, at nearly $1.3 billion, followed by the breeding sector at $710 million, the survey found. Kentucky’s race tracks include Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, and Keeneland.

The survey found that the equine industry generated an estimated 40,665 jobs last year, and its tax contribution to Kentucky was about $134 million.

It said the equine industry contributes “an above average share” of sales taxes compared to the rest of the state’s farm industry. Horse farmers pay state sales taxes on their farm purchases, unlike other livestock producers, who are exempt, the report said.

Imposing the sales tax on those purchases adds an estimated $8 million to $12 million paid by horse farmers each year, said Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer. Thayer, a key horse industry supporter, said he would push to exempt horse farmers from paying the sales tax on feed, fencing and farm equipment if state lawmakers take up a measure to overhaul Kentucky’s tax code.

“If the General Assembly ever considers tax reform, I believe that equine tax equity needs to be a part of the puzzle,” the Georgetown Republican said.

Thayer said the horse industry can use the economic impact study to make its case with state policymakers.

“It really sheds light on one of Kentucky’s signature industries, not only from a brand point of view but from an economic point of view,” he said.

Besides gauging the horse industry’s economic clout, the survey also inventoried the state’s horse population. Results released early this year showed Kentucky was home to 242,400 horses. The state has about 35,000 equine operations, and the total value of horses and horse-related assets is estimated at $23.4 billion.

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Horse Owners Assess Tornado Damage

by: Pat Raia of The Horse

The number of horses lost or injured as a result of the storms is still uncertain

All that remains of a barn ~ photo by Richard Gwin

Horse owners in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee are assessing damage and calculating losses after a series of early spring tornadoes swept though several counties in those states last week.

According to the National Weather Service, 42 confirmed tornadoes tore through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio on March 2. The storms packed winds as high as 180 mph, knocking out utilities and flattening homes and barns. All told, the confirmed human death toll reached 39, according to the agency. The number of horses lost or injured as a result of the storms is still uncertain.

“We know there are horses missing and roaming the area, but we just don’t know much else,” said Jim Noel, president of the Indiana Horse Council.

Kentucky was among the hardest hit by the twisters. Farm operators William and Rhonda McCardle lost 15 of the Quarter Horses residing in a barn on their Crittendon, Ky., property when the tornado struck, demolishing the structure. Two horses remain missing. Two surviving horses, a yearling and a 2-week-old foal, were later discovered alive in the barn rubble. Those animals were placed under care at a veterinary hospital in Lexington, Ky., said Sue Haynes, friend of the McCardle family. On March 5 the yearling died as a result of his injuries, Haynes said.

Meanwhile, Kelly Carr, owner of the Saddle Up Arena equine facility in Madison, Ind., said one member of her family lost three of five horses to the storm. Other animals were injured, she said.

“Some had large wounds from flying debris and cuts from hail,” she said. “We could see homes and barns just flattened.”

In Tennessee, a spokesman for the Jackson County Extension Service of the University of Tennessee, said that Extension Service Manager Cynthia Zeitz was still helping horse owners assess the post-storm damage to animals and other property.

Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, primary instructor and president of the Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, said these early storms are a reminder that horses are particularly at risk for tornado-related injury and death when they are located in a barn when the heavy weather arrives.

“Unless your barn is built like Fort Knox and certified for a high wind event, horses should be in their pastures,” Gimenez said. “Horses may get nasty injuries, but they won’t be crushed in the barn.”

Gimenez also reminds owners to clear their property of any items that might become airborne before a storm strikes. Owners should, whenever possible, remove tree limbs that storm force winds could blow down and remove debris and other items from pastures and paddocks.

While the damage assessments continue, the Kentucky Horse Council is coordinating support for tornado-affected horse owners through the U.S. Equine Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund provides revenue to help horse owners purchase necessities such as feed and fencing in the aftermath of tornadoes and other devastating storms.

“We are also in touch with the Indiana Horse Council to determine the extent of the need there,” said Kentucky Horse Council President Anna Zinkhon.

Meanwhile, those wanting to donate to the U.S. Equine Disaster Relief Fund should visit for details. Anyone interested in helping the McCardle family rebuild should contact Haynes at

Kentucky Reports Many Horses Killed by March 2 Tornadoes

by of

Humans, Horses, Homes and Barns Laid to Waste by Storms

Deadly Twisters tore at America's Heartland ~ photo by Brook Bunch

More and more the sad news is coming in of horse owners who have lost all or almost all of their horses in the March 2, 2012 tornadoes, often along with their homes and barns. Many horses who were not already dead had to be euthanized due to severe injuries they had suffered. Injured horses, other pets, and livestock have been keeping veterinarians in the area very busy.

Rhonda and Bill McCardle, of Crittenden, Kentucky, have been running their McCardle’s Hidden Stables for 40 years, are one of those horse owners whose lives were devastated by the March 2 tornadoes. After the tornado hit their ranch two people who lived on their farm were killed, Donald and Linda Beemon, and their ranch laid in ruin with 15 of their horses dead, and the family dogs are unaccounted for.

Loose horses were roaming around in the area of Henryville and surrounding areas hit hard by tornadoes. Many of these horses were being rounded up and trailered to Saddle Up Arena, an equestrian show facility, in Madison, Indiana. There were mares with foals by their sides included in the group of about 40 horses that were taken to the facility. Each horse is being tagged with the identification of the area they were found in for owner reference. Due to the Clark State Forestry horse trails being located within the Henryville area there were many horse farms located in the areas that were hit hard by the tornadoes. It is hoped that these horses can be reunited with their owners.

Anyone missing horses from the Southern Indiana area hit by tornadoes can contact Kelly Carr of Saddle Up Arena at: 502-645-2304. Saddle Up Arena is located at 178 North Badger Road, Madison, IN.

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Landmark Bill to Stop Drug Use in Horse Racing

Thoroughbred racing at Churchill Downs.

Image via Wikipedia

by Laura Allen of Animal Law Coalition

Racing Industry has Failed to Protect the Horses

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) have introduced H.R. 1733/S.B. 886, the Interstate Horse Racing Improvement Act  of 2011 which amends the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978,15 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.) .

Under the 1978 Act, simulcast or offtrack betting was allowed, a very lucrative benefit for the horse racing industry.

There is no question the industry’s effort at self-regulation even with some new state laws, has simply failed to protect horses from abuse from the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs. 

Now, Congress proposes to qualify the benefit bestowed under the 1978 Act by  regulating racing to the extent necessary to rid the “sport” of these drugs.

“This weekend, the very best of horseracing will be on display at the Kentucky Derby. Yet, for too long, the safety of jockeys and equine athletes has been neglected for the pursuit of racing profits,” Rep. Whitfield said.

“The doping of injured horses and forcing them to compete is deplorable and must be stopped. Despite repeated promises from the racing industry to end this practice, meaningful action and oversight has yet to come forth. This legislation will bring much-needed reforms to an industry that supports thousands of jobs and is enjoyed by spectators nationwide.”

“Chemical warfare is rampant on American racetracks, and unlike other countries, our law does not reject this unscrupulous practice. A racehorse has no choice when it comes to using performance-enhancing drugs, but this legislation takes away that option from those who would subject these magnificent animals to such abuse for gambling profit. Those involved in horseracing will have to play by the rules or face getting kicked out of the sport,” Sen. Udall said.

What the bill does

The bill would prohibit anyone from (1) entering a horse in a race that is subject to an interstate off-track wager if the person knows the horse is under the influence of a performance-enhancing drug; or (2)  knowingly providing a horse with a performance-enhancing drug if the horse , while under the influence of the drug, will participate in a race that is subject to an interstate off-track wager.

A host racing association could not conduct a horserace “that is the subject of an interstate off-track wager” unless the host racing association has a policy in place that (1) bans racing of horses that have been given  performance enhancing drugs, (2) also bans persons who provide horses that have been given these drugs, and (3) requires third party testing of the first place horse and another horse chosen at random. Test results would be reported to the Federal Trade Commission or a host racing commission with which the FTC has entered into an agreement to handle enforcement. The host must also have minimum penalties for those caught in violation. 

Three Strikes – You’re Out

A first violation would mean a $5,000 civil fine and a  minimum 6 months suspension from racing where there is interstate offtrack betting; a second violation would mean a $20,000 civil fine and a suspension of at least 1 year; and a 3rd violation would mean a $50,000 civil fine and a permanent ban from horseracing where there is interstate offtrack betting.

The suspension or permanent ban would mean the violator could not participate in any activities including as a spectator at a race where there is interstate offtrack betting.

It would not matter that the violations were at different tracks or in different states. Each violation regardless of where it occurred would count towards the permanent ban.  

Horses given performance enhancing drugs would also be ineligible to race for at least 6 months on a first offense, a minimum of 1 year for a second violation and at least 2 years for each subsequent violation. 

A violation would also be considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice, and the FTC would have enforcement authority unless there was an agreement for a state or host racing commission to handle that. Even then, the FTC could still step in and enforce these provisions if the host racing commission does not adequately do so. The FTC would also monitor and handle enforcement with respect to violations occurring in multiple states and in connection with non-profits.

The bill further creates a private right of action. Organizations or individuals with standing could bring an action for injunction or other relief to enforce these provisions and even obtain damages or restitution and attorney’s fees.  

Performance Enhancing Drugs

H.R. 1733/S.B. 886 defines performance enhancing drug to mean (1) any substance capable of affecting the performance of a horse at any time by acting on the nervous system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system, reproductive system, musculoskeletal system, blood system, immune system (other than licensed vaccines against infectious agents), or endocrine system of the horse ; and 

(2) includes the substances listed in the Alphabetized Listing of Drugs in the January 2010 revision of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, Inc., publication entitled `Uniform Classification Guidelines for Foreign Substances’.”  For more on the ARCI publication….

Unlike other countries, racing jurisdictions in the United States allow horses to be medicated on race day. And there are numerous examples of trainers who have violated medication rules multiple times, seemingly with impunity. A recent Racing Commissioners International letter notes that one trainer has been sanctioned at least 64 times in nine different states for various rule violations, including numerous violations of drug rules.  According to the New York Times, only two of the top 20 trainers in the United States (by purses won) have never been cited for a medication violation.

The Interstate Horseracing Improvement Act is the first Congressional attempt to ban doping in horseracing since similar legislation was considered in the 1980s.