Friday, March 29, 2013


A few days ago I watched a woman cradle in one of her arms the head of a six year old Thoroughbred mare. The woman whispered sweet nothings in the mare’s ear. The mare closed her eyes in a trance of deep contentment. I listened intently to see if I could hear the mare purring like a kitten. This was an example of cross-species communion.

Years ago when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer trainee. Another trainee was practicing horsemanship as part of preparation to live in rural areas of South America where personal transportation was provided by beasts of burden. His horse reared up and the rider slid backwards behind the horse and onto the ground. The horse sat down upon the rider and broke the rider’s pelvis.

Horses are not kittens. They are not lap dogs. They are not treated as pets by most legal regimes in most places in most countries. And for purposes of movement across international borders, they are treated as disposable products. Many of the rules of buying and selling across international borders apply, matters such as when ownership passes, when risk of loss passes, payment terms, third party liability, and so on. And sometimes, just as with a bag of spoiled or contaminated onions imported from abroad, upon inspection at their U.S. port of entry they might face being thrown away. By being thrown away, I mean that they might be euthanized.

The United States Department of Agriculture maintains an animal import center headquarters and field quarantine facilities in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Those seeking to import horses from abroad must seek a permit for importation from the Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service (APHIS) before shipping from the country of origin. Miami, Florida is one of several approved ports for entry of horses into the United States.

To be admitted, a horse upon admission at a U.S. port cannot have been on premises where African horse sickness, dourine, glanders, surra, epizootic lymphangitis, ulcerative lymphangitis, equine piroplasmosis, equine infectious anemia (EIA), contagious equine metritis (CEM), vesicular stomatitis, or Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE) have occurred during the 60 days immediately preceding exportation, nor should these diseases have occurred on any adjoining premises
during this same period of time.

A horse projected for importation cannot have been in a country where CEM (contagious equine metritis) is known to exist, nor have had any contact, breeding or otherwise, with horses from such a country, for the 12 months preceding exportation. The horse must have been inspected and found to be free of ectoparasites.

In this very brief presentation I am going to discuss, inter alia, the phrase adjoining premises. The importer seeking to import a horse into the U.S. from abroad must receive certifications from specified authorities in the country from which the horse is being imported that the horse meets the criteria to qualify for importation. One of the items for certification is that the horse during the 60 days immediately preceding exportation did not have any of the diseases listed, nor did the diseases occur on any adjoining premises
during this same period of time.
A practical application of the rule could involve the following: the importer requires that the exporter check the target horse check for all of the diseases listed above. If the horse is found clean of everything, and if it can be proven that the horse has been on what might be identified as "clean premises" for 60 days, the horse is ready for exportation. And I would suggest that the horse should be transported by clean means (chain of logistics) from departure to arrival at the U.S. port.

If the target horse has a disease that can be cured, and the economic arrangements can be reached between seller and buyer, then if the horse is cured it should be moved to a clean zone not adjoining where the horse has been previously, and remain in the clean zone for 60 days before being exported. One cannot predict with certainty what the USDA will do in a specific case, but my own research leads me to believe that the phrase adjoining premises are premises which touch and are connected, or in contact, with the other premises involved, rather than those merely lying near or adjacent. That means that the safe zone, the clean zone for holding horses for 60 days, can be close to the premises which in and of themselves would disqualify the horse from entering the United States.

Now we will discuss due diligence. If you are the buyer/importer and you totally trust the exporter/seller, and you are satisfied that as to each, your word is your bond, you may some day be the proud owner of a horse imported into the United States which is euthanized by the United States Department of Agriculture because it harbored a prohibited disease. At least try to take pictures of the horse while it is vital and breathing, something to cherish. But if you are even slightly anal, do due diligence. Identify the diseases endemic to the area from which your target horse originates. Understand which of the diseases are treatable and which are not. Have thorough and complete testing done, and make sure the purchase contract does not become binding unless the horse gets a clean bill of health. Find out who will be doing the testing and certification, and decide whether you are willing to trust the results. Make sure that the horse testing clean or becoming clean after treatment stays for 60 days in a clean holding zone prior to exportation. Check out each link in the logistics chain from start to finish. Make sure there is no chance of infection or re-infection resulting from a contaminated link in the logistics chain. And then hold your breath. And when you start breathing again, mount up and ride, Ladies and Dudes.

Gary D. Malfeld

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Is PETA involved in song-writing?

I was driving in rush hour traffic listening to a country music radio station when these lyrics blared out: "save the horse ride a cowboy". What the hell does that mean?

Update on horsemeat:

Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, New Mexico expects to open its horse slaughter plant April 29, 2013.

Getting the medical records for your horse from your veterinarian:

Florida Statutes section 474.2165. Ownership and control of veterinary medical patient records; report or copies of records to be furnished.

(2) Each person who provides veterinary medical services shall maintain medical records, as established by rule.

(3) Any records owner licensed under this chapter who makes an examination of, or administers treatment or dispenses legend drugs to, any patient shall, upon request of the client or the client's legal representative, furnish, in a timely manner, without delays for legal review, copies of all reports and records relating to such examination or treatment, including X rays. The furnishing of such report or copies shall not be conditioned upon payment of a fee for services rendered.

You do not need to give your veterinarian a reason. You make your request. You have a right to receive your records. Mount up, Ladies and Dudes.

                                            Gary D. Malfeld

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Peaceful Ridge Rescue cut the red ribbon at its home in Davie, Florida on Saturday, March 16, 2013. Local government dignitaries participated in the ceremony to officially open the horse rescue facility. More than a few horses also were present for the event. The rescue motto is "A Home for Every Horse".

A few days ago a friend in White Plains, New York told me that a small breeding farm in his neck of the woods had reduced its foal output. Demand for horse acquisition had diminished during the Great Recession.

A veterinarian recently lamented that too many horse owners could not afford to feed their horses, could not place them elsewhere, and could not afford to euthanize them and dispose of the remains. The economy impacts equines.

I do not have reliable statistics to answer the questions. How many horses nationwide have suffered the consequences of the Great Recession over the last few years? How many horse owners bought horses even though their financial circumstances did not justify taking on such a heavy responsibility? Does our equine population exceed our carrying ability, at least in multiple locations, with no likelihood that the excess populations can be relocated to areas with greater carrying capacity?

Perhaps, over time, the market place sorts it all out. Certainly that could happen and likely will happen if we view horses as a commodity, not unlike wheat, or petroleum, or the proverbial widgets. There will be a new equilibrium. But for the most part in the U.S. we do not perceive horses to be widgets, or as mere commodities to be bought and sold like inanimate objects, or even like pork bellies.

There are those who truly care about animal welfare, including horse welfare. But they will tell you that when the equine population significantly exceeds the economic carrying capacity of a given area, it may be more humane to allow some horse owners the option of selling their horses for slaughter, ostensibly in the least distressing manner possible for the horses, then to simply let them die a lingering death over time under the ownership of people trapped by their inability to either care for or relocate their animals. You do not need to accept that viewpoint. You can insist that the only humane alternative, the only moral alternative, the only ethical alternative, is for communities to provide rescue facilities.

Over a period of several years local governments have struggled to fund basic governmental services, including police, fire, schools and programs for the elderly and the homeless among the human animal population also struggling to survive. So the resources to fund the demands for equine rescue services will not typically be provided by government at levels equal to the need. And that is why non-governmental equine rescue services find a ready demand for their efforts.

If you are one of those people who believe that it is morally and ethically wrong to control equine populations by treating horses as just another commodity, as simply raw material for the slaughterhouse, and you cannot ignore the fact that some horses will die lingering deaths caused by malnutrition and lack of medical care due to owner neglect, then perhaps you have a moral duty and an ethical duty to pony up. It takes money to save horses. It takes money to provide a home for every horse. It takes money to provide a home for any horse.

Maybe some of you read my comments about horse meat in my prior blog. If you are convinced of your own virtue, convinced of the rightness of your own values, and your values are not consistent with horse slaughter or horse abandonment, then find your checkbook and write a check payable to Peaceful Ridge Rescue, which is s a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Better yet, go to their website at
and click on the "donate" button. Consult with your CPA and make sure your donation is big enough to reduce your federal income tax liability. Don’t be a neigh-sayer. Make a difference. Mount up, Ladies and Dudes.
Gary D. Malfeld