Inside the Ohio Equestrian Community Overcoming an Existential Threat

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GM, partner. This is The Oxer. The newsletter that takes you out of your tack room and into the global equestrian industry.

🐴 Here’s what we’ve got for you today:

  • The fight to keep equestrian alive: This county’s equestrian community in Ohio is facing an existential threat.

  • Horse rescue op makes us question: How can we prevent equine abuse in the future?

  • Final Foals: Check them at the bottom of every edition, including this one.


What happened?!

  • Equestrians are protesting against the decision of the Ashtabula County Fair Board to double the facility fees and to stop renting horse stalls, effective July 31 of this year.

  • Club members are struggling to make a profit as it is and can’t afford to spend more.

  • They have requested the board to consider reducing fees and investing money into maintaining and improving the horse facilities.

  • Board members have cited high electric bills as the reason for the increase in rental fees.

  • The board’s decision to stop renting horse stalls has also received criticism, with equestrians noting that the barns are in bad shape and in need of repair.

  • They have suggested using grant money to make improvements, and the board has promised to look into reducing rental fees and getting the necessary repairs done.

Our jump on the subject

If you’re a paying customer of anything, you’re certainly aware that, no matter where you are in the world, prices have gone up. The price of energy is a factor for why that has happened, and the board cites energy being a primary reason why rent is increasing.

Either way, it’s clear that the equestrian community in Ashtabula County is under attack. Or, should we say, under neglect.

That’s because the equestrian facilities and stalls that are now at threat of being priced out and closed down have been in a perpetual state of disrepair.

Not long after the article we cited above was published, a local equestrian published an article on Star Beacon about their experience with the county treating its equestrians as “second-class citizens.”

Take a look at some of it below.

I was stabled at the fairgrounds for roughly 11 years, in which I paid well over $75,000 in stall rent, always having 12-15 race horses on the grounds. When I was first stabled there the barns were virtually uninhabitable for horses — filthy stalls, broken equipment and every tack room locked and filled with previous renter’s stuff. I asked for help in getting the barn ready, to no avail.

Cory Deyermand, Star Beacon, May 6, 2023

Mr. Deyermand further said in his letter to the editor that two years ago, the local government promised to change things by introducing a new race horse barn, with “funding received from COVID funds.” This was supposed to be an improvement of the conditions Deyermand mentioned in his piece.

However, the government instead used the funds to build another cow show barn.

The latest reporting we have on the situation in Ohio is that on May 10th there was a board meeting to “take up the rental issues,” and a decision was made:

“The Ashtabula County Fair Board agreed to continue renting horse stalls to equestrians, with a 25 percent increase and a promise to use the additional funds to make improvements to the fairground’s dilapidated horse barns.”

Star Beacon, May 12, 2023

Only time will tell if the county’s equestrian community will stay strong or be priced out, as 25% isn’t exactly pennies.

At the very least, the equestrian community of Ashtabula County showed that if you band together, you can still keep on going. A 25% increase in renting stalls is certainly not helpful but it’s better than the previous proposal of increasing facility rent by 50% and closing the renting of stalls altogether.

 

What happened?!

  • Officials in Virginia have removed 17 horses from a stable in Fauquier County due to reports of neglect and malnutrition.

  • The Bay Ridge Equestrian facility, operated by Amanda Margaret Stanton, a horse-riding instructor previously convicted of animal cruelty, was the subject of complaints regarding inadequate care for the animals.

  • The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office investigated the reports and subsequently seized the horses.

  • The Central Virginia Horse Rescue was involved in the rescue operation, documenting the poor condition of the horses, including signs of malnutrition and neglect.

  • Stanton also managed another property in Shenandoah County, from which additional horses were removed.

  • The specific charges brought against Stanton in the Fauquier case remain unclear, as public court records only indicate civil violations related to forfeiting the animals rather than animal cruelty charges.

Our jump on the subject

In Virginia, animal cruelty laws are enforced by law enforcement agencies and animal control officers. Virginia Code § 3.2-6570 defines animal cruelty and makes it illegal to intentionally deprive an animal of necessary food, drink, shelter, or veterinary care.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) also has regulations that govern the care and treatment of horses. These regulations include standards for proper feed, water, shelter, and veterinary care, and they apply to all equine operations in the state, including stables, farms, and riding academies.

VDACS is responsible for inspecting equine operations to ensure they are in compliance with these regulations.

The department also investigates complaints of animal cruelty and neglect involving horses and other livestock.

If an investigation reveals that an equine operation is not in compliance with the regulations, VDACS can take enforcement action, which may include fines or revocation of licenses or permits.

It appears that there are already preventive measures in Virginia—but that doesn’t guarantee future equine abuse from not happening.

In retrospect, Stanton should’ve not been allowed to take care of horses when she was already convicted of animal cruelty in the past.

Convicted animal cruelty offenders may not be able to work with animals in Virginia for a certain amount of time, depending on the specific conditions set by the court.

We don’t have details of Stanton’s conditions set by a court, but this is the second time in five years in which the government has seized animals under her care.

 


 

🐴 Also, Don’t Miss These Final Foals

🏟️ Kudos to Fresno State for getting a brand new equestrian arena! College equestrian isn’t dead after all.

🎺 Congrats to Auburn University for getting a new equestrian head coach.

🎩 The cofounder of BET sold her equestrian property for $22 million. Can you give us some of that?

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Take your time to digest these stories and let us know what you think by replying.

Hoof it over,
The Oxer

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