On The Farm: “Burn, Baby, Burn!” But doing so carefully and legally.

Reprinted from the University of Maryland Ag Law Education Initiative.

1432216940125Burning debris is not an uncommon practice on Maryland farms.  However, there are specific legal requirements related to open air burning that should be understood and followed carefully.

In Maryland, wildfires burn 4,000 acres annually and debris or open air burning is the leading cause of wildfires, accounting for over 29% of all wildfires.  Therefore, the State has enacted legal regulations to control open air burning. State law defines open air burning as “a fire where any material is burned in the open, except small recreational fires such as campfires.”  State law dictates when and how open air burning may occur if it is within 200 feet of woodland or an area where flammable materials are present; if the burning occurs within an incorporated town, the town’s code establishes the legal requirements.

Unless authorized by a permit issued by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), by State law there must be
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Horse Owner charged with felony cruelty after botched euthanasia

On Friday, July 17, the Wicomico County, Maryland State’s Attorney charged Delaware resident Ceba Horsey with one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty and three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty for botching the euthanasia of his horse, which had suffered a broken leg.

According to a press release issued by the Wicomico County Sheriff’s office, on 9 July 2015 a deputy responded to a call regarding an injured horse lying in the grass at boarding stable on Waller Road in Delmar, Maryland (which is on the Maryland-Delaware line).

According to the Sheriff’s office, the horse had broken its leg the previous day, and the owner had apparently told others on the property that he would euthanize the horse himself with an injection. The responding deputy did observe evidence that someone had attempted to inject the horse. However, according to the Sheriff’s office, the horse was still alive and in obvious pain,
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Equine Issues up on Capitol Hill

Maryland may only have a 3-month legislative session, but not so the federal government – and things can heat up in the summertime!

Because of our proximity to the nation’s capital, many Maryland equestrians become activity involved in federal issues.  Here is a quick look at legislation on which the American Horse Council is active this summer

Trails in National Forests

Maryland is one of only ten states that does not have any National Forest – however, many Marylanders do travel other places to enjoy backcountry riding on such trails.

On Thursday, July 16, the Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the National Forest Service Trail Stewardship Act of 2015 (S.1110), of which the American Horse Council is in support. The bill would direct the Forest Service to take several actions to help address the current trail maintenance backlog that is adversely impacting all trail users on many national forests, including equestrians. According to AHC, the Forest Service has deferred trail maintenance needs that exceed half-billion dollars. This maintenance backlog is causing access and safety issues for equestrians and all trail users on national forests.

S. 1110 will direct the Forest Service to develop a strategy to more effectively utilize volunteers and partners to assist in maintaining national forest trails and identify and prioritize specific areas with the greatest need for trail maintenance in the national forest system. If successful, this could provide a template for local efforts.

AHC also notes that this bill will help improve trail maintenance without adding to the federal budget deficit and that it is bi-partisan and supported by a wide range of recreational users of public land.

Funding Equine Health & Protecting Horses; Defunding Slaughter

On July 8, 2015, the House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill.  This bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2016 fiscal year (October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016). The bill contains several provisions that impact the horse industry, including funding for USDA equine health activities and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.

Equine Health

The bill would provide $871 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is the USDA agency responsible for protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, including responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks.        Funding for Equine, Cervid, and Small Rumiant health would be set at $19.5 million, this is the same amount that was appropriated in FY 2015.

Horse Slaughter

Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) offered an amendment to prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities that was defeated in a 24-24 vote. Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) spoke in opposition to the amendment.  Such a prohibition would have prevented horse slaughter facilities from operating in the U.S. had it been included in the bill.

Currently, No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the U.S and a prohibition on funding for inspectors at such facilities from last year’s FY 2015 USDA bill remains in effect until September 30, 2015. Once that prohibition expires, USDA will be required to provide inspectors and horse slaughter facilities if any were to open.

A similar defunding amendment could still be offered when the bill is debated by the full House or when the Senate begins work on their version of the USDA appropriations bill.

Horse Protection Act

The bill provides $697,000 for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act. This is the same amount that was appropriated in FY 2015.

The bill must now be approved by the full House.

 Foreign Worker Programs

Does your farm, training stable or hunt club depend upon foreign labor?  Do you use the H-2B Visa program? If so, click here to find out what the American Horse Council is doing about proposed new regulations.

Killer of Miniature Horse Convicted

On Monday, June 6, John Nelson Price (of Westover, Maryland) was found guilty of aggravated animal cruelty (felony), misdemeanor animal cruelty and two counts of misdemeanor reckless endangerment for shooting and killing his miniature horse on May 4, 2015 (see equiery.com “Strawberry-munching Mini Shot & Killed by Owner”).

According to Delmarvanow, Somerset County District Court Judge R. Patrick Hayman didn’t buy the defense’s argument that shooting one’s own horse on one’s own property is legal under the ag laws (humane euthanasia of livestock by bullet or retractable bolt is a legal and useful tool for all livestock owners who do not want livestock to suffer). The judge also rejected the defendant’s reasoning for killing the mini (according to Delmarvanow, Price shot the mini so as to prevent a potential traffic hazard). The judge has sentenced Price to one month of active jail time, followed by three years of unsupervised probation. The judge did not assign any significant fees, nor did he expressly prohibit him from owning other animals.

The one month of jail time might offer a bit of respite for neighbor and witness Bill Kennedy, who has brought multiple complaints against Price. In addition to being charged with animal cruelty and reckless endangerment charges for the mini, Price faces charges filed in June for second degree assault, trespassing and failure to comply with a peace order. Similar charges were brought against Price in April, also by the same neighbor; those court documents were closed.  The trial for the current charges is scheduled for August 8.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Price have filed an appeal on the guilty charges for the mini. No date for the appeal has been posted as of press.

TROT’s First Scholarship Winners

TROT Scholarship winner Shelby NAME

TROT Scholarship winner Shelby Hurley

by Judy Thacher (first published in the July 2015 Equiery print edition)

In January 2015, Trail Riders of Today (TROT) announced at the Horse World Expo in Timonium that it would be offering two $500 scholarships to young equestrians, ages 12-18, to help them pursue their equine activities. Applicants for the new Young Equestrian Scholarship Program were limited to Maryland residents who were current members of 4-H, Pony Club, FFA, licensed Maryland riding stables or another equine organization affiliated with the Maryland Horse Council. The Equiery and TROT’s newsletter simultaneously published an article detailing the eligibility requirements and the application process for the new program. Completed applications were due by April 15 and included a 300-word  essay entitled “How horses have affected my life and how I plan to keep them in my future.” In addition, a letter of recommendation from the organization the applicant represented was required. All applicants received a complimentary one-year family membership in TROT.

Once received, all identifying information (except age) was removed from the applications which were then forwarded to a six-member Scholarship Committee drawn from TROT’s Board of Directors. Each application was independently scored using standardized criteria to evaluate the applicant’s history, dedication to horses and commitment to further developing his or her equestrian skills. The applicant’s plan for using the scholarship money was also carefully considered. A total of 25 applications were received from riders located in 12 counties in Maryland.

The Scholarship Committee is now pleased to announce that Abby Krohn from Chesapeake Beach and Shelby Hurley from Mardela Springs have each been selected to receive TROT’s 2015 Young Equestrian Scholarship Award. Both Abby and Shelby are 16 years old.

TROT Scholarship winner Abby NAME

TROT Scholarship winner Abby Krohn

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Take Action to Support H-2B Program Now

From the American Horse Council

Tomorrow, the Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to take up the fiscal 2016 Department of Labor (DOL) funding bill, which includes important and helpful language that will make the H-2B program easier to use for employers.  However, there might be an attempt to remove these helpful provisions from the bill and action is need immediately.

The H-2B program is used by members of the horse industry, principally horse trainers and owners who cannot find American workers to fill semi-skilled jobs as grooms, exercise riders, and stable attendants at racetracks, horse shows, fairs and in similar non-agricultural activities.

If you, your business or members of your organization rely on H-2B workers, please contact your Senator if he or she serves on the Appropriations Committee and express support for the H-2B appropriations language that is included in the DOL appropriations bill. Click Senate Appropriations Committee Members for a complete list.  

You can reach your Senator through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121.  Once connected to the Senator’s office, ask to speak to the staff person who handles Department of Labor appropriations. 

Call them today and tell them;

If you have any questions please contact the AHC at info@horsecouncil.org

Preakness Helps Raise More Than $65,000 For Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance

The Maryland Jockey Club announced today that a community-wide fundraising effort helped raise more than $65,000 for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) during the Preakness Meet at Pimlico Race Course.
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Fast Track Facts from Pimlico

portions first published in the June 2015 Equiery

May was good to Maryland Thoroughbred racing. And with his Preakness title secured, American Pharoah is entering the gate at Belmont Park to possibly be America’s first Triple Crown horse in 37 years. But as American Pharoah won going away, so did Maryland, with an impressive array of numbers:

American Pharoah’s Clean Win!

IJKcas_0651American Pharaoh down the stretch for clean win at yesterday’s 140th running of The Preakness Stakes!

Photo by Equiery contributing photographer Isabel Kurek.

Preakness Post Positions Drawn; Count Down Begins to “Riders Up!”

American Pharoah 02

American Pharoah breezing this morning at Pimlico after arriving yesterday afternoon. (Photo by Maryland Jockey Club

While it may be white knuckles for all on Saturday, the Wednesday before Preakness is the white knuckle day for the trainers, as that is the day of the draw for the post positions, all hoping to draw the statistically most favorable post. And unfortunately for trainer Bobby Baffert, the Preakness if off to a tough start for his Kentucky Derby winner American Pahroah, as it was his horse that drew the “dreaded” number 1 slot in the gate. The stats aren’t good for the inside slot, as it has been 21 years since a horse won from the #1 spot: Tabasco Cat in 1994.

Nevertheless, American wants a Triple Crown winner, and so in just two days most everyone (sometimes even the competition) will be cheering for American Pharoah as the three-year-old colt by Pioneer of The Nile leaves the gate in the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore. Will he best a field of eight and get one step closer to a Triple Crown victory? The odd makers say yes, but there are seven other horses standing in his way that would like to take home the Woodlawn Vase (the most expensive trophy is the sporting world, if we need to remind you).


Divining Rod training at the Fair Hill Training Center (photo provided by Woody Offut)

Even though Marylanders will be cheering for a Triple Crown horse, we will also be cheering for the Maryland-based Divining Rod, who has been under the training of Armaud Delacour. The 39-year-old native of Normandy, France operates a training stable at the Fair Hill Training Center in Cecil County with his wife Leigh (a former Pony Clubber and foxhunter from Annapolis). Mr. and Mrs. Roy Jackson’s Lael Stables of Pennsylvania owns the Kentucky-bred Divining Rod (by Tapit out of Princess Kitten). The Jacksons owned the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, who was also trained out of FHTC. Divining Rod will break from post position seven and is ridden by Javier Castellano, who won the Preakness Stakes in 2006 aboard Bernadini.

Another entry with Maryland connections is
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