Most Popular 2012 Posts and Looking Ahead to 2013

I know that the 'happy 2013' posts have more or less come and gone by now, however,  I thought a quick look back at the most popular Ribbon and Red Tape posts written in 2012 would be great to share.

I'll be away from blogging for a couple weeks, so please enjoy reading back through some of these equine topics viewed through a legal lens.....

Looking Back

1. 2012 was marked with controversial news stories about mares used for stallion CEM testing.  I discussed the issue in the blog post: Stallions and the Law: Impregnation, Castration, Importation (the post also includes a great picture of veterinarian Dr. Knopf in action!)

2. A subject we don't often think about, but in fact irks many people: The Golf Cart: Friend or Foe at a Show.  Not surprisingly, golf carts have injured many horses and people due to their misuse.

3. Turmoil in the racing world was the third most popular blog post, particularly surrounding the on-set deaths of horses on the television show "Luck," in What are the Odds?  Gambling on a Horse Race. [Update: there is now a lawsuit pending]  

4. The final contender in post popularity was a series on horse diving, a hallmark dispute in 2012, when Atlantic City proposed re-opening the diving show, discussed in Welfare Water Watch: Diving Horses and Welfare and Horse Diving: a final word.

The most popular Facebook post shared in 2012 was of Bugsy, a very freckled and colorful horse that I rode in the summer show season, as well as the feature on the Nicest Indoor I have ever seen!

Looking Ahead

I predict 2013 will see...

1. Continued scrutiny of drugs in the racing world and increased and new scrutiny of drug use in the show horse world.  
2. The horse community will continue to debate horse slaughter and what to do about wild and also unwanted horses.
3. Depending on the 2013 U.S. fiscal policies, horses, horse businesses, and horse activities may face tax increases or issues.

Be sure to follow or subscribe to this blog, as well as follow along on Facebook to stay up to date and in the loop with the many equine legal issues we will see in 2013!

 Please also share with me on the blog, via email, or other social media any particular equine legal topics you would like to see featured in the year ahead (for example, quite a few readers requested the post about Paternity rights if a stallion impregnates someone's mare without the owner's consent!)  There are already some great posts in the 2013 lineup.

Thanks for a great year my fellow horse-crazy friends!

Horses versus Humans: Surrogacy Laws

It can be interesting to compare and contrast horse and human legal issues.  Instructions on how to raise children and foals can be eerily similar, there are also shared elements in feeding and caring for horse and human families in severe economic downturns, and both humans and horses need emergency evacuation plans in case of disaster, among many other similarities.

There are of course many differences; for example, human heirs are accounted for if someone dies intestate, whereas horse owners need to prepare a post-death plan for their animals if they want their estate to go in part to care for their horse(s).  Horses are governed largely by property law, rather than common or civil laws.

I read an article recently on human surrogacy legal issues.  In part: "In the 20 years since California first legalized gestational surrogacy, the industry has exploded--but this increased demand for children has also increased the potential for greed and exploitation."

The article describes some of these issues:

-One man asked the surrogate to carry at least four embryos, not because he wanted quadruplets, but so he could choose "the best one" and put the others up for adoption.  He agreed he was attempting to take  "the pick of the litter."

-One couple found out their surrogate was carrying a child of a gender they did not want.  They threatened to not pay any of the surrogate's medical fees unless she aborted the child.

-A reproductive law specialist attorney engaged in a baby selling scheme, in which American surrogate mothers were flown to Ukraine, implanted with specially selected "designer" embryos (i.e., blonde hair and blue eyed babies), and once the surrogates made it past the first trimester, the lawyer/ her team marketed the babies for approximately $100,000 each.  The attorney was disbarred and sentenced to 5 months in prison on charges of wire fraud, a cause of action grossly disproportionate to the wrongs committed.
Almost unbelievable right? Almost.  

The article put in tension the lack of reproductive laws, and the proponents who want more laws and the lobbyists who do not.  As one surrogacy lawyer said: "We live in the Wild West of reproductive medicine... there's so much greed, so much money in this industry, there has to be regulation."
With equine surrogacy there is a striking ethical difference from human surrogacy.  Human life is valued at an entirely different level than horses, as it should be!  Horses are regularly used as surrogate mares, perhaps because the donor mare is a competitor or is too old or has poor health for carrying a foal.  It works out great for many horse owners.
However, there have been a number of lawsuits and calls for a change in embryo transfer and surrogacy equine laws.

This topic is too complex to be handled in just one post, but one of the most significant legal issues is with breed registries (like the AQHA case of registering "Hummer" (page 209)).

Some interesting links:

Have you ever participated in embryo transfer/ surrogate mares?
What do you think of the registration rules for such foals?