Horses

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1994:

The Ochoa brothers, reputedly
the world’s leading cocaine traffickers after
the death of Pablo Escobar in a shootout with
Colombian police late last year, reputedly
launder their income through their father’s
horse breeding business. Fabio Ochoa
Restrepo’s herd of 1,200 horses is reportedly
worth $25 million. The Escobar family also
breeds horses, but the value of their stock fell
shortly before Pablo Escobar was killed,
when rivals castrated a stud worth $1 million.

Parollee Sterling Rachwal, 30,
was returned to prison for 14 years on
December 25 for sexually abusing three hors-
es in Monroe County, Wisconsin. Rachwal
will do the time after finishing a seven-year
term for killing five horses during sexual
assaults in Waupaca and Outagamie counties
in 1988. He attacked the Monroe County
horses after serving five years of that term.
Rachwal was also convicted of cruelty to ani-
mals in 1983 and 1984.
Alberta-Pacific, owners of the
most advanced pulp mill in Canada, i s
experimenting with a return to horse-logging
in rough terrain where mechanized equipment
hasn’t proved efficient. The environmental
group Edmonton Friends of the North is con-
cerned that horse-logging will lead to more
cutting in sensitive areas; humane advocates
fear injury or abuse to the horses. Horse-log-
ging has been boosted by some U.S. environ-
mentalists, however, because horses’ hooves
cause less soil erosion than tractor treads.
After a year of delay due to
protest, snowmobiling cowboys directed by
aircraft on January 25 rounded up 850 of the
estimated 1,165 wild horses who were
believed to roam the Canadian Forces Base at
Suffield, Alberta. Descended from stock left
during the Great Depression by farmers who
were forced off the land by dust storms, the
horses were blamed for erosion of sensitive
sandhills and grasslands in a part of the base
designated a National Wildlife Area––but
more than 10 times as many cattle reportedly
occupy the same land, under grazing leases.
The Canadian Armed Forces claimed to have
received 25,000 applications to adopt the hors-
es, at an adoption fee of $348 apiece.
The American Horse Protection
Association and Bureau of Land Management
will cohost a symposium on the future of the
Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range on April
13-14; call 202-965-0500 for details. Created
in 1970, a year before the passage of the
Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act,
Pryor Mountain was the first wild horse sanc-
tuary in the U.S. It harbors “possibly the most
significant wild horse herd remaining in the
U.S.,” according to the AHPA, “due to its
documented Spanish ancestry.” The herd ini-
tially numbered 200, but is now at 121, and
the BLM hopes to cut it further, to 95
––which the AHPA contends would put the
herd at risk by limiting genetic diversity.
The BLM announced December
28 that it will open a $180,000, 40-acre rest
ranch near Elm Creek, Nebraska, to give
wild horses being shipped to the east a two-
week rest break while in transit.
Fire swept the main stable at the
Hippodrome Trois Rivieres in Trois
Rivieres, Quebec, the night of January 17,
killing 93 of the 94 horses in the
building––built on the site of a stable that
burned in 1971, killing 80 horses. The sole
survivor endured six hours of smoke and
flames. The dead included Kid Eau Bio, the
track’s 1993 horse of the year, and Steady
Lerom, an eight-year-old with 49 wins in 153
starts, co-owned and driven by Carol
Dumont, one of the few female harness dri-
vers in Quebec. The number of horses on the
premises was below the usual quota of 146
because the racing season was already to be
suspended for six weeks beginning February
1, due to poor attendance. Despite the loss of
20 scheduled starters, the January 18 racing
card was held as scheduled.
The Green Mountain Raceway i n
Pownal, Vermont, a greyhound track for the
past 20 years, will be converted back into a
thoroughbred track soon, according to new
owner John Tietgens, of Clarksburg,
Massachusetts, who bought it at auction on
December 29 for $250,000.
Former Kentucky governor Julian
Carroll is leading a lobbying push by the
state’s racetrack owners for an amendment to
state law that would let them diversify into
casino gambling––and would give them a
statewide monopoly on gambling. The track
owners’ income has dropped since several
nearby states legalized casino gambling.
Six months after the death of two
thoroughbreds during the annual Palio of
Siena bareback race around the central square
in Siena, Italy, authorities have begun inves-
tigating cruelty charges against the captains of
10 of the city’s parishes and two veterinarians.
Adrian Zentz, 25, of Westland,
Pennsylvania, was charged January 9 with
stealing two standardbred racehorses from the
Washington County Fairgrounds, after
allegedly trying to sell a horse dealer and an
undercover cop two other horses stabled at the
fairgrounds, who also didn’t belong to him.
The New York City Council
Transportation Committee on February 7
approved new carriage horse rules that will let
carriage operators pick up fares outside
Central Park, increase the penalties for horse
abuse, and yet ease humane enforcement by
requiring warning citation before the penalties
take effect. The carriage operators have been
working under decade-old rules since the 1989
Carriage Horse Protection Act expired on
January 1, including fees set at $17 per half
hour. The American SPCA has been citing
and fining those who charge $34 per half hour,
the rate set by the 1989 law.
The Draft Horse and Mule
Association of America and cart maker
Baron Taylor of Teamster Technologies are
reportedly setting up a nonprofit foundation
called the Russian Draft Horse Revitalization
Project to solicit donations of horses for
export to Russia, where Taylor recently set up
a cart plant––while Russia and other former
Soviet-aligned eastern European nations are
selling as many as 400,000 horses a year to
slaughter in the European Community,
according to a recent item in Horse & Rider.
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