by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

By Ray Paulick

I wouldn't normally applaud the creation of yet another industry organization, but when one comes along that says it is “dedicated solely to improving the care and welfare of horses” and to “advocate on behalf of all horses through fiscal, professional, legislative and research support”—well, then, maybe our alphabet soup can stand a few more letters.

This new organization, formed in Kentucky and seeking 501(c)3 status, is the Equine Health and Welfare Alliance, and it has already in the process of getting some things done that should be beneficial to horses of all shapes and sizes.

The EHWA was created by a group of well-known Kentucky-based equine veterinarians: Frank Dwayne Marcum, who was named president; Doug Byars; Norm Umphenhour; Mike Cavey; and Gary Lavin. Membership will not be restricted to veterinarians.

While Kentucky-based, the group hopes to have an impact nationally and internationally. “The EHWA Inc. is positioned to provide expertise and coordinate other organizations in developing strategic plans for improving standards of care, regulatory oversight and current policies pertaining to the treatment of the equine,” Marcum said in a statement.

“The horse is a deaf mute,” said Byars. “It can't speak for itself. So our focus will be solely on issues and mechanisms that protect, promote and preserve adequate humane measures of basic needs for the horse.”

“We have a moral obligation to be proper stewards of this important part of our nation's heritage,” added Marcum.

The EHWA's goals include:

·       Identify issues adversely effecting the humane treatment of horses and identify solutions through legislative or regulatory action.

·       Promote research to improve equine health.

·       Improve the quality and oversight of horse rescue operations.

·       Build a nationwide grassroots network to advocate on behalf all equine breeds.

As its first order of business, the EHWA has promoted a bill (House Bill 398) in the Kentucky legislature that would create the Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Board under the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet. The board would be responsible for working with the cabinetand taking action on issues related to equine health and welfare. The bill would also create an equine health and welfare trust fund to be administered by the board to promote equine health, welfare, and safety.


The bill was passed through a unanimous vote of the House on Thursday.

Specifically, the Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Board will have responsibility for the following:

· Undertake research, conduct public hearings, and collect data to determine prevalent equine health and welfare issues.

·  Strive to develop regional centers of care for unwanted, abused, neglected, or confiscated equines.

·  Create a system of voluntary certification of equine rescue and retirement operations that meet industry-accepted standards for care of equines.

· Research and offer suggestions for statutory changes affecting equine health, welfare, abuse, and neglect issues.

·  Assist veterinarians and others in maintaining the health and welfare of equines by identifying and referring to the appropriate authorities critical areas of need.

“If this becomes law, Kentucky would become the first state to legislatively recognize the dynamics of equine health and welfare,” Marcum said. “The bill at this point doesn't ask for funding, but there is a mechanism within the language would ask for funds.”

Marcum said he hopes that Kentucky could serve as a template for a business plan for other states. “Kentucky needs to be the leader in the this respect,” he said. “The horse is not unique to Kentucky, but Kentucky is unique to the horse.”

Areas of concern include neglected or unwanted horses, Marcum said. He is hoping legislators at some point would be willing to structure a tax-incentive program for farms struggling in the current depressed bloodstock market to take on additional horses from among the neglected population. “If a farm used to have 100 horses and now has 20,” he said, “providing tax credits to those farms willing to board neglected horses might help them stay in a business a little longer and save some jobs. It's something of a recycling mechanism, but it also sustains employment and goes back to the tax base.


“We also want to assist,  support and educate retirement homes for horses,” he said. “A long-term goals would be to have centers of care through agriculture departments and co-ops at universities and colleges.

“Our focus will be securing the entire life of the horse with dignity.”

For more information, visit the Equine Health and Welfare Alliance web site by clicking here.

Copyright © 2010, The Paulick Report

Savvy businesses recognize value. Advertise in the Paulick Report.

Sign up for our Email Flashes to get the latest news, analysis and commentary from Ray Paulick

Liberation Farm celebrates the many horsemen and horsewomen who strive each day to make things better for horses and those who work with them.  To learn more about Liberation Farm, click here.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram