It's the most INSPIRING time of the Year!

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but I find New Years to be the most inspiring time of the year!  The New Year is like spring cleaning during dead winter- out with the old and in with the new!

If you are an equestrian or have an equine business, the New Year is the perfect time to create goals and resolutions in preparation for the spring and summer riding seasons, such as revamping lesson programs (taking lessons or giving them) and updating your equine facilities- tack room organization, repairing paddocks, or refurbishing arenas.  

And these winter months are the perfect time to review your liability policies: updating your liability releases to current law, reassessing your insurance plans, and reviewing or creating your other legal contracts.  
Resolve to enact best practices and policies for your equine life to ensure better protection, save money, and have greater peace of mind.

Of course many of my New Year's Resolutions revolve around horses, such as taking more lessons, showing more, and updating some of my riding gear.  I will also be rolling out more streamlined and specialized equine legal services to clients and their equine businesses in the year ahead.

Are your 2013 Resolutions about horses and riding?!

Happy New Year!

Cats! Barn Cats! Hemingway's Cats! Your cats!

My sister, Dr. Knopf (on right), volunteering to neuter and spay barn cats at a Dressage barn
Ernest Hemingway's home, and now a museum in his honor, is in Key West, Florida.  He had a six-toet cat named Snowball that became the subject of a recent lawsuit.  A visitor to the museum wanted more stringent welfare conditions imposed on the care of the cats (though they reportedly already have inside beds, free roam a lush property, are fawned on by visitors, and fed twice a day).  
A federal court held last week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a federal government agency, has jurisdiction and control over the care of the cats!


The Federal Government, funded by our tax dollars, is responsible for and has the right to govern the care of descendants of Hemingway's cats.  Cats! (Currently at a count of 50, but we know how quickly that number can multiply!)

I really like cats.  I'm sure many of you have barn cats, cats that get along with your horses, cats that sleep with you at night.  Cats can be a special part of our animal families.
But I disagree with the court's far-reaching conclusions.
The court said that because visitors cross state lines to go to the Ernest Hemingway museum, and that the cats are an important part of the museum's commercial purpose (so visitors can experience the cats the way Ernest did), therefore the cats are part of interstate commerce and can be regulated via the Commerce Clause.

So what about descendants of famous horses? Seattle Slew, Man O' War, Seabiscuit, Gemtwist, Hickstead?  Those descendants are governed by business law (economics largely) and registry rules.  The state racing boards are government agencies, so in a sense I suppose the registry of famous racehorses is managed by government bodies. 

Alternatively, if your horses are an integral part of your equine commercial business, and that business has an affect on interstate commerce (showing, breeding, trailering across state lines), is the door opening for the government to have jurisdiction to regulate your horses (beyond your requirements to comply with state/ federal welfare laws)? 

Something interesting for you to think about as you care for your horses and cats today, especially since it's rainin' cats outside!

Have you been to the Ernest Hemingway museum?
Do you think the federal government should have more control over famous animal lineages (or those animals affecting interstate commerce)?

Great Sadness during the Holidays

I've been so deeply saddened with the Connecticut elementary school shooting.  I like to think that we are a (sufficiently) well-functioning society based on sound law and order.  But tragedies such as this show the weakness in our perceived ability to prevent illegal activity or to provide justice for victims.  This depraved gunman took his own life, evading the legal process of conviction and punishment.  Not only did he deprive the parents this justice, of permitting the system to question his motivation, but he deprived the parents of so, so much more.  He deprived them of watching their children take delight this Christmas morning, of growing and learning, of providing an ever continuing joyful presence to their families and friends.

I'm so sorry for the families and the mourning community.   I have a family member who works in one of the hospitals where victims were taken; where staff was ready to help, but children were brought in already dead.  One teacher is there in critical condition.

I believe that a society founded in respect for the law is vitally necessary, but we need to fix the gaps in not only our legal system, but also our moral and ethical structure, that have not been preventing this gross disrespect for justice and violation of order.

Man with Nine Children Ordered Not to Procreate: Would it work with Horses?

Source: American Herds, from Bureau of Land Management

The Supreme Court ruled a long time ago that humans have a liberty interest in procreation.  The ruling occurred because jails were performing forced sterilization on female prisoners in the belief that being a criminal was genetically passed onto offspring.

That ruling has stood, but without any clarified parameters.  Recently a judge in Wisconsin ordered a man who fathered nine children with six different women, and was $50,000 behind in child support, to NOT procreate as a condition of his probation.
The judge reportedly began the hearing by saying he was disappointed that he wasn't allowed to order that the man be sterilized.  The condition to probation can be lifted when the man shows an ability to pay child support.

There are of course an enormous number of opinions on the case, from Constitutional issues to welfare reform to the mothers of these children to how the judge can enforce this ruling.  A funny comment to the article is a rather sarcastic retort: "I'm sure a guy who ignores court orders to do stuff [pay child support] will totally obey a court order not to do stuff [procreate]."

So how we can apply this to the equine world?!

What about the breeders who breed large quantities of foals (trying to find the next Triple Crown winning Thoroughbred), but then doesn't have the means to support all the horses? A large part of the unwanted horse issue is too many horses that aren't trained and prepared to be suitable for a happy home.

I'm not a proponent of undermining breeders' due process rights, such as laws that propose taking extreme measures to restrict the right to breed, the right to privacy, or the right to earn a living.  However, I find it interesting food for thought to consider whether the more egregious breeders could be ordered- perhaps in the name of welfare laws or by the breed association or Jockey Club- to not cause his mares to procreate so many foals per year.

What do you think of that?  
A bad solution because it would be unfair/ unlawful - or - the kind of solution that cuts through the status quo to affect a difference? (Feel free to respond to the restrictions on procreation for either the man or the horse!)