Wednesday, November 19, 2014


          My March 29, 2013, blog article captioned "Importing Horses into the United States of America" included the following text:

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. 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.

          In September of 2014 I received documentary materials from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture in response to my earlier Freedom of Information Act request. I sought documentation regarding the importation of horses from abroad into the United States through the port of Miami, Florida during calendar year 2013. For those who are interested, I now share with you some of the findings.

          One thousand nine hundred forty horses entered into the United States through Miami in 2013. The dominant geographic area of origin was Western Europe. The dominant breed classification was "warmblood". No horses coming through Miami were identified as originating in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Russia or Australia. Almost none of the horses were identified as originating in Eastern Europe. I am seeking from APHIS documentation as to foreign horses entering through Los Angeles in 2013.

          With the exception of Argentina, almost no horses were identified as originating in Latin America or the Caribbean. There is some indication that Argentina successfully exports into the United States polo ponies.

          My conclusion from the data is that the horses which came into Miami were of sufficient value to justify the underlying transactions and represent considerable dollar value in the aggregate. I expect that the results from the data on entries in 2013 through Los Angeles likewise will show scarce representation of horses from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Russia or Australia. And I suspect that the overriding explanation for the lack of imports from those regions of the world is directly related to the presence of endemic equine disease which would result in positive testing at APHIS facilities for diseases which would bar the entry of horses from many of those regions upon their arrival in the Unitted States.

          As a consequence of inhibitions to commerce arising from probable positive test results upon arrival in the United States, some of the most beautiful and desirable horses living on this planet can be found in only symbolic numbers in the United States, horses such as the Marwari from India, the Akhal-Teke from Turkemenistan, the Criollo from Chile and Brazil, and even different categories of Paso Fino, in general well represented in the U.S., from some countries in the Western Hemisphere.

          Beyond those more or less exotic breeds, it seems likely that some of the finest Arabian and Thoroughbred bloodstock will never achieve entry into the United States because of the presence of equine disease in their countries of origin.

          In the year 2013 eight horses were denied entry into the USDA/APHIS facility in Miami having tested positive for equine piroplasmosis. One international equine transportation company is identified as the importer. One of the horses was a warmblood gelding from Germany, five are identified as mares from the Netherlands, one is listed as a mare from the UK, and one is listed as a mare from Ecuador.

          Eight horses rejected vs. one thousand nine hundred forty arrivals. Not bad, right? Unless you had skin in the game and the horse associated with your transaction was returned to its country of origin at considerable expense or euthanized and plans and dreams died at the port of Miami.

          I hope to clarify whether or which of the eight horses were shipped back or euthanized. But what concerns me is, how could this happen? Who dropped the ball? Who was responsible? How were any of these horses able to get on a plane in a foreign country and arrive in the United States with failure awaiting?

          The answers to those questions are not necessarily available through a Freedom of Information Act request and I do not expect identifiable involved parties to voluntarily provide the answers. So trust, but verify. And go back and read my March 29, 2013, blog article captioned "Importing Horses into the United States of America".

Until next time: Mount up, Ladies and Dudes!


No comments:

Post a Comment