Monday, December 15, 2014

Mexican/American Horse Slaughter Takes a Hit, Charity Xmas Shopping Tips & More

Hello fellow horse folks, how are ya? These few weeks leading up to the holiday shenanigans are always pretty stressful. Well don't worry, I've got a little comedic relief for you before we get to the news:

OK, let's get down to it.

BIG news: The European Commission will no longer allow any imports of Mexican horse meat into the European Union! That's right, Mexican slaughter plants just lost a huge market for horse meat.

The European Union (EU) is made of up of 28 countries, including Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (that's England + Scotland + part of Ireland + Wales). Some of the world's biggest consumers of horse meat live in the EU (we're looking at you, France and Belgium).

The Commission decided to halt all imports of Mexican horse meat after March 1st 2015, largely due to food safety concerns. In most EU countries, horses have to be free from veterinary drugs for at least 180 days prior to slaughter. In Mexico however, horses often end up in the food supply only a couple days after leaving the local racetrack, riding stable, or breeding barn. Needless to say, there's a lot of bute, steroids, hormones, and other toxins in those horses. And the Mexican authorities just don't care. The Commission found that the records kept by Mexican feedlots, slaughter plants, veterinary drug dispenseries, and vets themselves are incredibly inadequate, or missing entirely.

The Commission also noted that horses transported to the Mexican slaughter plants faced awful, inhumane conditions. Many dead or dying horses, lame horses, sick horses, and stallions are put on to trucks for long journeys and then taken to pens where they are held without food, water, shade, or vet care. (To read the full report, go to this link and click on the "Mexican" button at the bottom of the page.)

You probably already knew about all that, but here's something you may not know: Mexico is one of the top three producers of horse meat in the world, but most of the horses slaughtered come from the USA. Shame on us. Some of these horses are oldies, thrown away by piece-of-crap owners who couldn't seem to scrounge up a few bucks or bullets to give their faithful servants a decent death. Some of these horses are products of the racing industry, which rarely makes any kind of provision for the care of the horses it breeds, chews up, and spits out. But the majority of the horses that go to slaughter are young, healthy, unbroke, grade horses produced en mass by irresponsible breeders.

Some people are going to argue that the EU's decision will be harmful to horses in general, because with fewer meat buyers, Mexican slaughter plants won't process as many "unwanted" horses. These unwanted horses will end up starving to death. And the horse market will get even worse, because it will be hard to even get slaughter price for a horse on the auction block.

It's not true that lack of slaughter = more neglected horses. There was still a huge amount of horse neglect in America pre-2007, when USA slaughter plants were still open. And there's plenty of horse neglect in Mexico now, despite the presence of slaughter there. People who neglect horses don't do it because they don't have slaughter as an alternative, they do it because they are sick pieces of shit. Rapists don't rape because they can't get a prostitute.

It may be true that Mexican demand for American horses has helped keep the horse market from bottoming out entirely. But you know what? Well-trained horses will always sell for a couple of thousand dollars, and as for grade, unbroke horses, well... Screw it. Let the sucker bottom out. We're so far down in the hole, we might as well come out the other side of the earth. Maybe when you can't even get $10 for a yearling at auction, maybe when every last backyard breeder is surrounded by ponies she can't give away, maybe when even the auctioneers see there's no profit, maybe then this country will wake up. Maybe then people will stop breeding crap, and horses will become slightly scarce, and the market will rebound.

Speaking of healthy horses in desperate need of homes, Beyond the Fence Line horse rescue in Redgranite, WI seems to be stretched to the very limit. They have umpteen horses up for adoption on their website, and are now listing some more on craigslist:

18 year old Welsh/Shetland mare, leads, loads, ties, not sure if broke. $50

18 year old draft cross pony, leads, loads, ties, probably not broke, free to good home.

12 year old grey grade QH mare, 14.2 h, 90 days training, been on trails, leads, loads, ties, $500

If you want to help out BtFL but can't adopt, check out their online charity auction.

Midwest Horse Welfare is also having a charity auction, and Amazing Grace Equine Rescue is selling beautiful photo calendars. You can visit their website for instructions on how to pay via paypal or by credit card, OR you can mail $20 to A.G.E.S W4985 County Road FF Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin 53020.

There, I've helped you decide where to do your Christmas shopping! Oh, one more item on the list for Santa: Gorgeous 5 year old red chestnut gelding, 15.3h, greenbroke, sound. Up to date on vaccines, jumps, knows tricks. Has a bucking issue sometimes. Free to good home.

One last thing, and then I have to go: Feist's Horse Neglect Trial Delayed Until March

Stay tuned for more North Horse!

Extra Links:

In the midst of all these horses needing homes and going to slaughter, one group is putting out a plea for funds to breed more: the Wild Horses of Abaco Preservation Society. Should you donate money? It's up to you...

In line with their tighter restriction on horse meat, the EU Commission is also tightening restrictions on horse passports.

Read more about my position on horse slaughter here and here and here.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I'm Back! 3 Bad Breeders, Locals Needing Help, & More

I'm back! Did you miss me? Or did you rejoice when you thought I'd finally shut up for good? Hah, no chance of that!

So I've got a few excuses for not posting regularly in the last 3 months: I've moved to a new house, I've gotten a gig writing for a horse magazine, and lots of other big life stuff... but now I'm sort of settled. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, now let's do this!

First up, we have not one, not two, but three victims of irresponsible breeders on Craigslist to talk about! Obviously, none of the horses below should be producing offspring, but which horse has the worst conformation, hmm?
Is it:
A) the scrawny, fugly, 4 year old curly stallion? (For sale for only $250! Bred 3 mares this year!)


B) the weak-rumped, no-loin Appaloosa mare with spine problems? 
($450, and it's a two-for-
one deal, that's right, another bred mare will be thrown in for free!)

OR is it
C) this coon-footed, downhill, spotted pony stud who might have been taller if he'd been fed well? (Only $350 for this guy, he has "thrown color" on his seven foals!)

I say it's a toss-up between B or C, leaning towards C, but let me know what you think!


And as usual folks, as we sit here criticizing bad backyard breeders in a bad economy, in a nation overpopulated with horses, in an state chalk-full of low-quality horses, remember: it's not the horses that are to blame. If you can give one of these guys a home, go for it! They didn't ask to be born with poor conformation, and they didn't ask to produce more babies with poor conformation. Their scummy owners did that crap. These horses are still deserving of love.

Now I want to backtrack a little to August, and tell you that the "big lick" Tennesse Walking Horse Celebration in Tennesse lost another major sponsor this year! After Pepsi backed out in 2012, I knew it was only a matter of time before this archaic, abusive competition ended, and now I think we're seeing its death throes. Attendance was down this year, and 10% fewer horses entered. Hooray! Unfortunately, the number of cruelty violations were double what they were compared to last year, and testing still doesn't seem rigorous enough.

(If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out this article on the horrific torture of soring. Soring is traditional at the big TWH Celebration, where grotesque gaits are rewarded by the judges.)

A scene from "Next Town Over," by Wisconsin writer, artist, and animal lover, Erin Mehlos

On a lighter note, have you seen Next Town Over ? It's a free online comic, one of my very favorite reads. It's a blend of magic, mechanical wonders, and the Old West. And did I mention gorgeous freaking art?! Gawd, so gorgeous. If you're looking for cowboy chases, fire magic, and a horse that steadily becomes steam-powered, go check it out!

Ok northern folks, have you seen this horse?? She's a big bay mare with a little white on her left hind leg near the hoof, and a huge heart-shaped white blaze. She may be in the Twin Cities area now.

       Have you seen me??

"Mystery" is her name, and one of her previous owners is trying to solve the mystery of where she ended up. Mystery was given to Camp Courage/New Friends as a riding horse for kids and disabled adults, with a written agreement that she be given back to her owner if things didn't work out or the camp was sold. Well the camp was sold, and Mystery was sold, but the owner was never contacted. The camp doesn't know where the horse is. The owner just wants to know that the mare is in a good place, and offer a retirement home if the current owner should ever want to give her up. Let's help this super responsible owner! Find Mystery!

Mystery was last seen in the spring of 2014 near Maple Lake MN, which is northwest of Minneapolis, MN. Please contact Mystery's owner at 612-518-4578 if you have any information, or email via this Craigslist ad. More pictures available on that ad.

Next up, do you have a stall you can spare for two weeks to help an old horse near Milwaukee?
Erin, the owner, really needs your help! (Btw, this is not the same Erin that writes the comic.)
She says,

"I have a 24 year old Thoroughbred cross gelding whom I desperately need a place for in the next few days. He lost a lot of weight in last year's brutal winter and never totally recovered. I don't think that I can expect him to get through the winter, but I am very busy with work and nursing school and wanted to wait until December 18th to have him put down. The school semester will be over by then and I will be able to deal with that difficult task better emotionally and mentally. However, I got a message from the person that owns the place where he currently lives and she wants him moved or put down by the end of the week - she has decided she doesn't like having a thin old horse there, even though he eats and moves around fine. He hasn't been off the farm in 4 years, so his coggins isn't current, but it's never been positive. If anyone can help me for the next few weeks, I would be truly grateful. Hartford area would be best, but I am willing to take anything right now. I will supply his grain and supplements. Also, I kind of wonder if he would be ok in a stall, since he is still eating and has spunk in him, but where I currently keep him, I can't afford a stall, due to my work/school situation. If anybody knows of ANYTHING - private boarder or retired horses facility, please contact me. THANK YOU FOR HELPING!!"

You can contact Erin at 262-365-4902. Normally I would be pretty adamant that a horse's welfare should come before an owner's emotions-- a skeletal old horse should be put down ASAP. On the other hand, I remember exactly what it was like to be on a high-stress schedule and an emotional roller coaster as a working student. It sounds like the owner here really does want to do the right thing, she just needs a tiny little bit of time.

In other news, Valley View Acres Horse Stables near Woodstock, Illinois has tragically burned to the ground, killing 32 horses in the process. Five horses survived. The cause of the fire has not been determined, but it is thought to be spontaneous combustion. If you want to support VVA, check out their Facebook page (their website is currently down). Winter is the worst time for barn fires-- there's lots of hay, bedding, dust, and dry air around to create an inferno. Make sure that you're taking basic safety precautions in your barn:
  • encase lightbulbs in metal cages or frames, to prevent horses from breaking them accidentally
  • encase electrical wires in metal conduit to keep rodents (and cribbers) from chewing them
  • never leave a space heater on unsupervised
  • make sure your heated water tanks never run dry-- the heating element can start a fire
  • check to see if your bales are hot inside, a sign that the hay baled too wet-- it can combust!
  • sweep up loose shavings, cobwebs, dust, and straw

Finally, here are free and cheap Wisconsin horses. Can you give one a home?

Chestnut pony mare, 12.1h, 14 or 15 years old, not ridden since 2009. Free. Kenosha
Call Marilyn at

5 year old Tennessee Walker gelding, not broke, natural gaits. $300 Columbus
Call Robyn at 920 382 1174

QH gelding, 15.2h, some arthritis, well broke, needs sold TODAY. Can deliver. $375 Madison

4 year old QH/Halflinger mare, 13-14h, halter broke $200 Appleton

Morgan mare, "early teens," trailers, trail rides $200 or best offer Reeseville

Pinto mini mare, has founder issues, has been with a stallion  Free   Eau Claire / Lake Wissota

That's all for now folks, but stay tuned for more North Horse!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fall News & Free Horses

There's lots going on in the Wisconsin horse world these days, so let's dig right in:

Feist Soon to Face Trial

 Michael Feist of the horrific Otter Creek, Polk County WI neglect case will appear for a motion hearing on Sept. 30th. This motion hearing will determine whether the court will combine his trials for resisting an officer, bail jumping, and disorderly conduct with the horse neglect trial. Feist is currently scheduled to have a pretrial hearing on Friday October 3rd at 11am. With any luck, his trial will begin before the year is out.

Michael Feist is charged with four felony counts of mistreatment of animals causing death, 15 misdemeanor counts of intentional mistreatment of animals, and 15 misdemeanor counts of intentional failure to provide proper food and drink to animals. Read more about this truly awful case here... and then don't forget to write to (or call) the DA in this case, and ask him to prosecute Feist to the fullest extent of the law!Polk County District Attorney Daniel P. Steffen
1005 West Main Street, Suite 300
Balsam Lake, WI 54810


Thiry Demands Stallions or Cash

 Barb Thiry the horse hoarder/abuser is petitioning Waupaca County to either give her the two stallions still being held at a court-appointed boarding facility OR reimburse her the value of the horses. Which is damn ridiculous, as those horses would be DEAD if they were still in her care, or in other words have a value of exactly zero dollars. However, the court may have no choice. Please write to the court and tell them that Thiry doesn't deserve to be paid for starving horses, and certainly shouldn't get any horses back!

Hon. Raymond S. Huber
Waupaca County Courthouse
811 Harding St.
Waupaca, WI

Speaking of Sickening...

There's an update on EHV-1 here: now three horses in Dane County have tested positive.

Humans should beware as well; enterovirus has hit the Madison area.

On a Happier Note:

Midwest Horse Welfare just had another super fantastic fundraiser at a Packer's stadium concession stand-- congratulations to them, and kudos to all the volunteers who worked so hard! Go see some pics on their facebook page. Midwest's next fundraiser is the Golden Apple Give-Away, where you can win $1,000 in cold hard cash if you correctly guess where a horse will poop within a given area. That's right folks, it doesn't get more entertaining! And don't forget about their Fun Show and Tack Swap on Sept. 27th at the Waupaca Fairgrounds.

"Rooster" Found

Next up, many of you have been following the case of "Rooster," a handsome barrel horse that has been missing, presumed stolen, from Ann Zimmerman's farm in Walworth County. Rooster was just found dead in an isolated and brush-filled part of Zimmerman's property. The cause of his death is currently not known. Ann Zimmerman's boyfriend posted a partial explanation and apology today on Facebook:

Sudden Farm Closure Leaves Supporters Dismayed, Puzzled

Douglas Legacy Farm of LaValle, WI, which has long been a supporter of US veterans and horse therapy for veterans, has suddenly announced it will be closing. Farm events scheduled for this fall have also been cancelled. Susan Wellman, director of the American Standardbred Adoption Program, had also been named Programming Director for Douglas Legacy Farm for 2014. She seemed to think that the closure might only be seasonal, but did not know any more. There is no word about what will happen to the horses donated to the program. There was no comment from the owners of the farm by press time. Stay tuned for more information here.

EDIT 9/17/14: I received this email response from Douglas Legacy Farm:

Hello, No, the Douglas Legacy Farm is not closing. It is halting outdoor activities until next spring to allow for the renovation of a 140 year old barn. This is to ensure the safety of the public. The house will continue to be open for indoor meetings for veterans groups. Watch for our newly renovated barn next spring when outdoor activities will resume. Thank you for asking. 
  Bev Vaillancourt

Best (Worst) of Craigslist

This ad speaks for itself... *facepalm*

More Free Horses

14 year old registered bay Arabian mare. Broke, but has had a seizure, hoof issues. Poynette. Ad here.

25 year old very broke pony and 15 year old mare who was broke at some point. Mare has ringbone. Appleton/Sherwood. Ad here.

Senior donkey (20?) near Appleton/Shawano County. Current Coggins. Ad here.

Two paint mares, 9 and 15 years old, not broke. Near Janesville. Ad here.

Three mares, one Hackney two Saddlebred types, near Janesville. Two kid broke, but one needs serious work. Ads here, here and here.

8 year old mustang mare, mid-20s Quarter Horse gelding. Broke but not ridden for years. Sparta. Ad here.

23 year old registered Arabian mare, not broke. Wausau/Hatley. Ad here.

10 year old bay QH mare. Not broke. Health issue? Kewaunee/Green Bay. Ad here.

24 year old paint gelding. Broke, but soundness issues. Madison. Ad here.

Senior grade gelding with medical issues, owner can no longer care for him. Forest Junction. Ad here.

 In Simms, Montana, a large herd of mustangs needs to find homes ASAP. Owner claims they are "Spanish" mustangs. There is some indication they may go to slaughter if they do not find homes. None are halter broke, some can be touched. Many mares are pregnant. 5-6 foals and at least one stallion available. Contact Loreen Skinner via Facebook, or call 406-899-5517. The owner may be able to have them brought to Great Falls, MT, but otherwise transportation and roundup is up to you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Barb Thiry's Trial & Other News

Barb Thiry's trial just ended. She had been charged with 15 counts of animal mistreatment, failing to provide shelter, and failing to provide food. Each charge was a class A misdemeanor, the punishment for which can include a fine up to $10,000, or imprisonment for up to 9 months, or both. The charges resulted from Thiry's failure to get proper vet care, farrier care, food, water and shelter for her horses BiBi, Lady, Rebecca, Ruby and Two Socks. Here's a reminder of what that neglect looked like:

All charges against Thiry related to inadequate shelter were dismissed. This, despite the fact that these horses had absolutely no shelter from the bitter cold of last winter. (There was a shed wall four feet outside their bare-dirt enclosure. And there was a tiny shed, with room enough for one or maybe two horses, inside their enclosure-- but it was boarded up most of the time.)

Thiry was found "not guilty" of seven charges of neglect. It didn't matter that she had allowed a young stud to impregnate the starving mares, including his own mother. It didn't matter that Ruby's breathing problems had gone un-medicated. It didn't matter that Thiry had no food on the property for the horses, or that she had failed to pay rent for the tiny pasture for months. And finally, it didn't matter that Thiry had killed many animals via neglect at her previous residence in Kewaunee County (pics and details of that hoarding nightmare here).

Barb Thiry was found guilty of one charge of neglect, for Lady the 26 year old palomino mare.

Barb Thiry was sentenced to one year of probation for this.

Thiry will also have to pay court costs, the amount of which hasn't yet been determined, and supervision costs. She will also have to attend counseling.

In regards to the animals, Barb Thiry will almost certainly get the two stallions back. The court has ordered that she is not allowed to have animals (at least for the next year) unless authorized by an "agent" for this case, Waupaca County Large Animal Control officer Jeanette Newell. This agent is also supposed to check on any animals Barb does get, and verify that the vet and farrier make regular visits. Unfortunately, Newell is one of the people in this case who did absolutely nothing about Thiry's neglect in the first place! She will probably allow Thiry to get as many animals as she wants, and may or may not actually check on them.

Jeanette Newell's direct line is 715-258-6457, in case you would like to express your belief that Thiry should NOT be allowed to have any animals, ever, period. It also would not hurt to remind Newell that we, the public, actually expect her to do her damn job.
Her email is

Once Barb Thiry's probation is up, she is limited to owning no more than two horses for the next five years. (If anyone bothers to enforce this, I will be astonished.) Media reports here and here.

Whoopty doo, folks. A mild slap on the wrist. I am so friggin' depressed.

But I can give you one reason not to despair:

One of Barb Thiry's former mares, Rebecca, gave birth to a healthy foal while in foster care. Despite her starvation while pregnant, Rebecca's colt (who is named Robbie) is doing great. You can see him (and his mom) in this video. Both are being fostered by volunteers for Dane County Humane Society. If you've ever visited DCHS, you know that they only have a small paddock to take in horses, so foster homes are a must. They would love to build a new barn to take in many more horses, and so they don't have to rely on fosters all the time. You can help by donating a couple of bucks here! Just select your amount and then click on "New Barn" in the designation field. I promise it's safe. Dane County Humane Society is still looking for forever homes for Lady, Ruby and Rebecca as well! (P.S. as far as I know, the court ordered Thiry to surrender these mares permanently, so there's no way she'll be getting them back!)

Speaking of great causes...

Midwest Horse Welfare has just taken in a bunch more horses, including a little black mini, Chubby.

Chubby Checker has wounds from an embedded halter, major dental problems, he needs all his vaccinations, and he needs to be gelded. That's a lot of vet bills, folks. Can you donate?

Check out their Facebook page and website. Don't forget, they have a fun show and tack sale coming up on Saturday Sept. 27th at the Waupaca County Fairgrounds. It's a great way to have fun AND support one of Wisconsin's greatest rescues at the same time!

Next up: All natural flyspray containing Marigold oil (also known as Calendula oil) has been linked to severe allergic reactions in  some humans, including hives, inability to swallow, breathing problems, skin irritation, etc. This weekend, a friend of mine experienced all of this after using a locally sold natural flyspray. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, just because something is "natural" does NOT mean it is safe!

Speaking of natural toxins, Lyme Disease is definitely an increasing problem here in Wisconsin. But why are some vets refusing to recognize the threat? I recently spoke to microbiologist Linda Brown from the Wisconsin State Ag. Lab. Brown explained to me that some American vets and doctors simply haven't stayed current with Lyme disease. She said that it is a very real, but tends to be dismissed because it is hard to diagnose, and American clinics rarely have the necessary equipment to properly test for it. One solution is to shop around for professionals who are willing to do blood tests for several strains of Lyme Disease. You can read more about Lyme Disease here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

This is Not the Blog Post You're Looking For

Soooo you may have noticed I haven't been around much lately. Nope, I haven't been sued into silence (many have threatened, none have succeeded!) and I haven't been murdered.  Events have sort of ganged up on me lately, and I'm taking some time to make life decisions that require a lot of my concentration. Just know I'm really, really sorry for leaving you in the lurch... but I'm going to continue doing it for a while. After this post, I'll be taking some more break time.

This is how I feel right now.

photos from

Before I go on break though, there are a few things I can report on real quick:

This weekend is the Lodi fair, a great place for kids to show. Low cost, low pressure, no adults allowed in the rings. Fun!

Saturday Sept. 27th is the Midwest Horse Welfare Fun Show and Tack Sale at the Waupaca fairgrounds. Volunteer, show, donate, watch, buy!

Saint Francis Horse Rescue is very, very close to retirement-- now is your last chance to adopt from them before the owners move away! Check out their horses and ponies at

Brandy Nicole Woolums Blum (or whatever alias she's currently using) is still scamming people. Beware this Wisconsin tack trader!

I'm seeing more and more people use "natural" or "holistic" remedies on their horses before consulting a vet. That's probably fine if you're mixing up a new lemon flyspray to try, but for the love of God, please get real medical assistance for real medical conditions. Here are two examples of natural remedies that are bad ideas:

Tea tree oil is a neurotoxin that is potentially deadly to animals (and humans) when ingested, or if too much is absorbed into the skin. It's also been shown to cause estrogen-like effects. In addition there are NO scientific studies that prove that it's effective at much of anything. Read more about the unsubstantiated hype and the dangers of essential oils at this blog and this one.

Diatomaceous earth has not been proven to do crap as a dewormer. Just buy some goddam paste. You can get very cheap fecal tests to ensure you're feeding your horse only the necessary stuff.

Want to know more about the multi-billion dollar natural remedies industry? Read this book: Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by
Dr. Paul Offit, division chief of infectious disease at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and inventor of a rotavirus vaccine.

Speaking of the effects of nature, at this time every year I remind you folks: watch out for wild parsnip! It's everywhere in Wisconsin, especially along trails, pastures, and roadsides... exactly where we ride! If you or your horse breaks the stems of wild parsnip, the sap will burn skin and leave scars that last for months. Read more here.

Let's end on a happy note:

N.E.W. Equine Resource, Inc., formerly Barth Barn, is now a registered non-profit horse rescue/education resource. Check 'em out on Facebook! They just shared this hilarious video in honor of National Farriers Week.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Catching Up: Ukarydee Pedophile, Rescue News, Awesome People & More

Howdy! I'm back. Wow, sorry for the long wait. I'm going to start by firing some Wisconsin horse news bulletins at you pretty quickly, so hang on to your hats:

A new Facebook group has been formed called Wisconsin Horse Alerts, Warnings and Dangers. I know you don't want to join one more group, but I promise that THIS one will only be giving out crucial information. Stuff about Sterling Rachawl release alerts, disease warnings, missing horses, horse theives, etc. Join it and please do contribute! Let's work together to keep the Wisconsin horse community safe.

Speaking of danger, in Darlington, a horse and buggy got into a fender-bender with a car. Thankfully, no one (including the horse) was hurt.

 New cases of EHV-1 have now been confirmed in Kansas, Colorado, California, Manitoba Canada, and South Dakota. So far there have been two confirmed cases here in Wisconsin. Remember to bring your own buckets and other equipment to events, and maybe cut down on the number of barrel racing and rodeo events you attend. Those seem to be the places where the disease is popping up.

Ukarydee Horse Campground Pedophile?

Someone asked me to look into the background of Ukarydee horse campground owner Mike Harris and find out if there was any truth behind some accusations made about him on Facebook.
Here's what I can say for sure:

In 1997, Michael G. Harris plead guilty to 1st Degree Sexual Assault of Child and Repeated Sexual Assault of Same Child.
It's case number 97cf57 on Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, if you care to look it up. You can still find a record of the case at this Homefacts link, but it has been removed from the WI Sex Offender listings, probably because the case is so old.

Harris was 37 when he was charged. The age of the child was not given, so all we know is that the kid was under 18. I guess Harris could simply have had a relationship with a willing teenager, and then been prosecuted once the parents or cops found out. However, Mike Harris was sentenced to ten years in prison. I don't think a judge would have done that if this wasn't a real case of repeated child rape. The definition of 1st Degree Sexual Assault in Wisconsin's statutes seems to back that up. (Click the picture below to enlarge it:)

You may choose to think, "Well, Harris served his time, so it's all good." But personally, I wouldn't bring my kids to Ukarydee horse campground in Arkdale, WI.

Missing Horses Fund Dead in River

The two horses reported stolen or missing from LUVS Morgan Horse Rescue in March were found dead in a nearby river by a kayaker. Cops think that the horses simply wandered into the icy river and drowned, but there are still unanswered questions in the case. The horses were from two different herds, and the horses should not have been down by the river. One of the horses was used in the therapy program V.E.T.S (Veterans Equine Trail Service).

Now then, time to deliver on another very late promise I made to you folks:
During Midwest Horse Fair, I met the new Wildcat Mountain State Park Manager, Bob Ramsey. Here's what he's had to say: Ramsey is a long-time horseback rider, and is determined to make Wildcat more trail-rider and horse camper friendly. He vows to install some high-ties, level and gravel camping sites, work on the water situation, and repair trails. Some new trails will open, some old unsuitable trails will be closed. He's also going to repaint and replace most of the park's signs, because he feels they're confusing, they're hard to read, and there are too many of them. Ramsey has previously been involved with large animal emergency rescue operations, training firemen and others to help drag horses out of mud, ravines and other perilous situations.  Bob Ramsey sounds like a great guy. You can read an interview he gave to The County Line here, and you can read his spring goals for the park here.

Time for some horse rescue news!

I've got a list of people I'd like to acknowledge for being awesome:

Tracy Kiefer. She saw an older, underweight Appaloosa cross with rain rot being advertised for sale. When she realized she had owned this horse some years ago, she immediately went and bought him. In a world where it's all too common for folks to abandon their old horses and just plain not give a damn, this display of loyalty was good to see.

Deb Woodworth. For many, many months, Deb has been working with an owner who just refused to give up a couple of half-starved horses. The heartache, hard work, and hours Deb put into trying to help in this situation is beyond belief. She worked with the owner long past the point where I would have given up. Finally, the two horses are home with Deb, on their way to recovery. Huge hugs to you, ma'am! Kudos also to Pat bishop, pictured here, who helped. (Click the pics to enlarge)

Through her excellent farrier work with tough cases, especially cases of neglect, Vickey Marie Hollingsworth has improved the lives of more horses than I can count. She rescued an abused cob pony last year, continues to help animals in need, and is always giving them the absolute best. I highly recommend her as a farrier, trainer, and all-around great person.

Are you looking to increase your own level of awesomeness? Adopt a new riding buddy this spring! Check out my page of Wisconsin Horse Rescues. There are many well-trained, healthy horses up for adoption! Speaking of which...

Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary put Rudy up for adoption this week! If you don't know about Rudy, you MUST go read his story at AGES's website.

Midwest Horse Welfare also has some great horses available right now! But if you can't adopt, how would you like to take home $1,000 instead? That's just one of several cash prizes you can win through MHWF's raffle. Click here to find out how to buy tickets, or how to help them sell some. Hurry, time is running out! And yes, I do plan on being at Midwest's fundraiser party on June 28th- hope to see you there!

News from another Wisconsin rescue:
The current owners of Saint Francis Horse Rescue will finally be retiring this fall, after many years of dedication to Wisconsin equines. Bill and Mary are moving, and while they will be taking a bunch of the current horses with them, they'd like to see some of their favorite equines find new homes where they can really shine. Maybe YOU could lucky enough to adopt one! As usual, there are no adoption fees at Saint Francis, but there is a contract. Click the banner below to see the adoptables:

Saint Francis will also be hosting their annual Camp Hope event this Sunday the 18th, where grieving children get to spend a day grooming, riding and picnicking.

p.s. Don't worry, St. Francis Horse Rescue will be reincarnated at a new Wisconsin location, with new directors.

Updates on Neglect Cases:

Otter Creek Ranch:  Nothing much to tell. They're back open for business, but I haven't heard any first-hand reports about conditions there. Michael Feist's trial date, where he will attempt to explain away the four dead horses, is still set for Oct. 13-17th.

Barb Thiry:  Her next court date isn't until 6/10/14, and her jury trial won't start until July 31st.

Sean Legault: He had a hearing on April 30th, but I don't know any details. There's a status conference for this case on the 21st, but Legault's trial won't begin until 6/10.

On a Personal Note

I had previously promised to tell you about my adventures in Pittsville, after attending an anti-horse-neglect meeting there. It seems too late, too long to tell, and not very funny anymore, so I will just gloss over things quickly:

8 deer ticks, one hit deer, one stuck car, 8 miles of walking, two loose cows, two fabulous rescuers, not necessarily in that order.

The results of the meeting were much more positive: We all agreed to put on THREE low-cost gelding programs this fall. One will be held at Midwest Horse Welfare in Pittsville, one in the Greenbay/Appleton area, and one in the Madison area. We will certainly need volunteers for that project. More details coming soon.

Well folks, the "o" key is sticking and I've run out of caffine, so it's time to go! Remember, you can always email me at to ask me questions, suggest blog topics, nominate awesome horses and horse people to get featured, etc etc.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Midwest Horse Fair 2014 Part III

Oh the Fair! It's taken me a solid week to even show you everything I saw and learned. Let's continue with the North Horse Awards!

Most "Appy" Tail:  Memorial Spirit AKA Spirit

This cool gelding was in the equine soccer demonstration. Aww, poor Appaloosas with these tails-- but honestly, I prefer these genuine war-horse type Appys over the Quarter Horse clones you often see in today's show ring, tail or no tail.

Most Colorfully Dressed Fair Attendee

It isn't just riders and presenters that get dressed up for the fair!

No one will ever beat last year's rainbow-colored vaquero with the small pink floral backpack. (You can see him in this post, about halfway down.) However, this guy with the braids, dreadlocks and druid-like dress (robes?) did a good job of reminding everyone that although we were surrounded by cowgirls and horses, we were still in downtown Madison.

By the way, I saw a woman with red and black hair and piercings wearing this exactly same thing the next day at the 4H tack sale. Is this a new fashion trend, or were they just friends sharing clothes? Either way, it looks comfy.

Coolest Person at the Fair: Larry Gage

This is Larry Gage. He is a goddamn badass. Larry told me he fought in Vietnam, where he was taken prisoner twice (and tortured once), exposed to agent orange, and shot at least 7 times. Some of those bullets were taken while rescuing fellow POWs. He still has 2 bullets in his body. Recently, Larry suffered a heart attack, because one of the bullets in his body had grown/pushed its way into an artery or something. Despite that, he was volunteering for several three hours shifts at an informational booth. While still on crutches no less.  Larry would like to give a big "Thank you!" to the doctors and nurses in the VA hospitals that keep patching him up- especially the one in Tomah, WI. He also said, "It's not impressive, what I did. Other guys done ten times more."

Yeah, y
ou and I will never be as cool as this man.

This is a great time to mention some other veterans at the fair from two Illinois-based riding programs, Partners for Progress NFP, and BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center. These men and women were from many different branches of the armed forces and were invited to participate in "Heroes on Horses" at the Midwest Horse Fair. You can find the list of those who did here.

Also appearing in red, white and blue were the mustang folks! They did a fantastic job with both their booth and their performance. Their horses bowed, laid down, showed off some fancy maneuvers, and did a great job of showing how versatile and athletic mustangs can be. The only thing they sort of goofed up on was the jumping... but heck, if I was a mustang, I too would probably choose to bust through obstacles rather than jump above them.

Next up, the Best Presenter award goes to... Chris Cox, of course! (Really, who else could it be?)
The guy was funny, helpful, educational, kind, and he made everything look super easy. I was especially interested in his handling of a one-eyed gelding that couldn't stay in a canter.

Bravo to those who worked with Mr. Cox in the arena in front of hundreds of people-- that must have been nerve-wracking. I'm pretty sure if I Chris Cox worked with me, that would be the day that my horse refused to move and I tripped over my own boots.

Honorable mention for Best Presenter goes to this chicken. I didn't get his name, but he was an English bantam rooster about the size of a softball. He stood perfectly on his block amidst huge crowds, posed with people for photos without batting an eye, endured many pettings, and crowed constantly. Very nice job, sir.


Speaking of videos, I can't get the videos I took of the trick riders to load right now, but if you check back, I may get it up yet.
Some still shots of the trick riders:

OK, a couple more awards, and then it's time for miscellaneous pictures.

The award for Most Artificially Fashionable goes to this horse and rider:

 I'm sure the rider here is a great gal. She rode well, and was nice to her horse. Her horse seems really sweet too. I just hate everything they are symbolic of.

Check out the heavy tail extension on the horse, probably made from the tails of slaughtered horses. Ew. I guess it's supposed to look glamorous, but to me it just looks fake. It stayed almost entirely vertical and motionless the entire time they were riding.

Their "lope" was the super slow nose-to-the-ground kind where it looks like the horse is severely lame. You can see a good example video here, taken at the 2011 AQHA World Senior Show (Western Pleasure). Every real cowboy who ever rode the range must be rolling in his grave about this crap.

I just do not understand why Western Pleasure showing has gone this direction in the last couple of decades. It's ugly, it's very hard on the horses, and nothing about it actually serves a functional purpose. No real stock or trail horse does this. If you're looking for an alternative to the fake glitter and ultra-slow limping of WP, you might want to try Ranch Horse type shows. The official organization's 2014 show schedule is here, but I believe there are more unofficial ones out there. You could also try Western Dressage-- great, friendly people.

OK, time for the studs!  Best StallionJust like every year, I could easily give this award to the stunning RA Amadeo, an Andalusian who showed off his Spanish walk in the ring this year, or the incredibly talented Bethesda Horus, who gave us a terrific mounted shooting demonstration.

Oh please, please, someone with a worthy horse go breed to that coal-black Morgan hottie! My mare isn't good enough to be bred, but B.H. is in his twenties with only 20 offspring and no intact sons-- someone needs to make another baby in case I ever want access to those awesome genes!!

*cough* Ahem. Sorry, got off track there.

But because I can't have the same studs winning every year, this time I choose...

Uh.... Weelllll... This guy, "A Genuine Article" was pretty nice riding, pretty good looking...

Aww, who am I kidding. Bethesda Horus wins again, despite not even having a stall on Stallion Avenue this year. This stud does Civil War reenactments, trail riding, competitive driving, elk hunting/packing, etc. He's 15.3 and homozygous black and has the conformation of a god. Well, demi-god. Nobody's perfect.

I hearby declare the North Horse "Best Stallion" award permanently retired and in the possession of Bethesda Horus, until the time of his death. May he live to be a still-fertile 35 year old hottie.

Worst Stallion:

Klassy Celebri Te

If you read last year's post, you already know why.

OK, that's about it folks-- time to just flood you with pretty pictures. I hope you enjoyed my recap of the 2014 Midwest Horse Fair! Thank you to all the volunteers who made the Fair possible.

Keep checking my Facebook page for a soon-to-be-published interview with new Wildcat Park manager Bob Ramsey. You'll learn about the equine camping & trail improvements he's planning there. Oh, and I guess I'll have to tell you about my saddle-buying ordeal!