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Final Horse Protection Act Regulations on Hold

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

Recently, President Trump ordered a government wide freeze on all new federal regulations pending review. This order has put an indefinite hold on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) final regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA).

On January 13, 2017, USDA announced a final HPA rule.   However, the final rule was not published in the Federal Register before President Trump issued his order to all federal agencies to withdrawal all regulations that had not yet been published pending review. The final rule would have made several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring.

It will now be up to the Trump administration to decide whether or not to finalize the HPA rule. There is no timeline for review of the rule and the new administration could decide to issue a final rule at any time or withdrawal the rule completely. The HPA enforcement program will continue to operate under the current HPA regulations.

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

Speakers For First Quarter Webinar Announced

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

On February 13th at 3:00 pm ET, the American Horse Council will host its first quarterly webinar for 2017. The topic will be “Climate Change and Equines.”

“While the cause of climate change is of course a debated subject, there is no debate that climate change effects animals, sometimes drastically,” said AHC President Julie Broadway. “We wanted to educate people on understanding how your horses may be effected by these climate changes, and how you can be better prepared to keep your horses safe and comfortable with these changes.”

David Herring, Director of Communication & Education at the NOAA Climate Program Office will be the featured speaker. Mr. Herring will discuss how they see changes in the weather affecting not only horses themselves, but also the areas in which they live, show, and are ridden. “Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and record-breaking snow and rain have devastated farms around the country recently,” said Mr. Herring. “We want people to be aware of how these potential changes in the climate can drastically affect their animals and their well-being.”

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AHC Update: USDA Announces Final Horse Protection Act Rule

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced final regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The HPA was passed in 1970 to stop the cruel practice of “soring” horses that was occurring in some sectors of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse industry.

The final rule would make several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring. The AHC is currently reviewing the details of the final rule to determine its impact on the horse industry. However, USDA seems to have made several modifications and clarifications to the final rule in accord with the comments submitted by the AHC and others.  AHC comments can be found here.

Importantly, the USDA has made changes to the final rule that address horse industry concerns had regarding the proposed rule release last summer.  These changes include explicitly limited new prohibitions on pads, wedges, and action devices to “Tennessee Walking Horses and Racking Horses,” and removal of all references to “related breeds that performs with an accentuated gait that raises concerns about soring.” Additionally, USDA has adopted several proposals to make the rule less burdensome for smaller “flat shod” walking horse shows.  USDA also has clarified that certain reporting and record keeping requirements apply only to “Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse shows.”

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AHC Update: NAHMS Equine Health Study 2015 Released

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) released the first report from its Equine 2015 study, the Baseline Reference of Equine Health and Management in the United States 2015. The study was postponed because of 2015’s highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak.

Equine 2015 was conducted in 28 states, chosen for study participation based, in part, on the size or density of the states’ equine population. Data collected for the study represented 71.6 percent of equids and 70.9 percent of U.S. operations with five or more equids. This report shares data collected in regards to population estimates, equid health management and healthcare events, disease testing, farm biosecurity protocols, and transportation.

The Equine 2015 Study was designed to provide participants, industry, and animal-health officials with information on the nation’s equine population that will serve as a basis for education, service, and research related to equine health and management, while providing the industry with information regarding trends in the industry for 1998, 2005 and 2015/2016.

The Baseline Reference of Equine Health and Management in the United States for 2015 can be found at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahms/equine/downloads/equine15/Eq2015_Rept1.pdf

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

AHC Update: Safeguard American Food Exports Act Re-Introduced

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 113) has been re-introduced by Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The bill is identical to legislation introduced last Congress and similar to other earlier bills that would in effect prohibit the slaughter of horses in the U.S. and the export of horses for slaughter.

This bill cites health concerns as the primary rationale to prohibit the sale or export of horses or horsemeat for human consumption, because they are frequently treated with drugs that pose a serious threat to human health if eaten.  The bill would make it illegal under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to knowingly sell or transport horses or parts of horses in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Agriculture.

If you have any questions please contact the AHC.

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

AHC Update: Three-Year Depreciation of Race Horses Not Extended to 2017

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has published a proposed rule regarding withholding requirements on pari-mutuel winnings. The proposed rule would make changes to withholding requirements that are more accurate and reflect the current state of wagering in the horse racing industry.  These changes, if made final, will be of great benefit to horse players and the racing industry.

Specifically, the proposed rule would define “amount of the wager” as the total amount wagered by a bettor into a specific pari-mutuel pool on a single ticket for purposes of determining whether wagering proceeds are subject to 25% withholding on winnings of $5,000 or more and are at least 300 times as large as the amount wagered.

Currently, the IRS does not recognize the total amount wagered on an exotic bet with “boxes,” “wheels,” and “keys,” when determining whether the 300:1 ratio has been met and 25% withholding is triggered, only the  cost of the individual winning bet.  This greatly increases the number of winning bets that are subject to withholding and does not accurately reflect the actual amount bet and the actual amount won.

The American Horse Council and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association have requested the IRS make the proposed change for many years.

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AHC Update: Three-Year Depreciation of Race Horses Not Extended to 2017

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

In recent years, Congress has typically passed a tax extender bill to renew dozens of temporary or expiring tax provisions for individuals and businesses at the end of the year.  One of these typically extend provisions was three-year depreciation of race horses.  However, Congress has adjourned for the year without taking any action on a tax extender bill, allowing three-year deprecation of race horses and dozens of other tax provisions to expire.

From 2009 through 2016 all race horses could be depreciated over three years, regardless of when they were placed in service.  This provision was passed in 2008 as part of a Farm Bill.  The change, which eliminated the 7-year depreciation period for race horses and made all race horses eligible for three-year depreciation, expires at the end of 2016. Beginning in 2017, the pre-2009 rules will have to be used, meaning owners will have to decide whether to place a race horses in service at the end of its yearling year and depreciate it over 7 years or wait until it is over 2 (24 months and a day after foaling) and depreciate it over three years.

Congress took no action on a tax extenders bill because they hope to enact major tax reform legislation in the next Congress that would eliminate the need for many of the expiring provisions. Failure to pass the tax extender bill was not due to opposition to the three-year depreciation of race horses or any other specific tax provision.

The AHC will be closely monitoring the development of a tax reform bill and analyzing its potential impact on the horse industry.

If you have any questions please contact the AHC.

Click Here To Read the Article on AHC

AHC to Offer Student Internships Starting in 2017!

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AHCThe following is an announcement from the American Horse Council.

In 2017, the American Horse Council (AHC) will begin offering three different internship programs available to both high school and college students. Students will be eligible to apply to one internship per year in the AHC Internship Program.

Also starting in 2017 is the addition of a Student Membership to the AHC Membership categories.  The AHC felt it was important to continue the trend of being able to educate youth of the importance of the AHC in order to ensure the industry’s long-term sustainability. The internship opportunities being offered in 2017 are another way for students to understand exactly what it is the AHC does here in Washington, DC, and educate the next generation to advocate on behalf of the industry at the local, state or national level.

The three internships available are:

  • 1 or 2 week shadowing program to gain a broader understanding of the AHC with a focus on expanding knowledge of equine industry and policymaking. Transportation and housing not included; stipend of $250 available to offset expenses. Open to high school and college students.
  • 1 or 2 month internship- includes overview of AHC, student would conduct a research project and write a white paper on a specific topic of interest for academic credit. Transportation and housing not included; stipend of $500/month available to offset expenses. Open to college students.
  • Semester internship- includes overview of AHC, research project and white paper for academic credit and attendance at annual AHC meeting. Transportation and housing not included; Stipend of $500/month available to offset expenses. Open to college students.

The AHC’s encourages those that apply for the internships to also join at the Student membership level in order to get a fully rewarding experience.  Students will be able to see the relationship between the work that the AHC does daily, and the ensuing information that gets shared with AHC members.

Please visit the AHC website for more details and to download the application form. If you have any questions, or would like more information about the internship program, please contact the AHC at  info@horsecouncil.org

Click Here To Visit The AHC Website

AHC Update: Congress Set to Pass Bill to Fund Government

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AHC

The following is an update from the American Horse Council.

This week Congress set to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to provide funding for the government until April 28, 2017.  The CR is an extension of last year’s omnibus appropriations bill that originally expired September 30, but was extended to December 9th.

Congress normally should debate and approve several separate appropriation bills for each federal agency including those important to the horse industry like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior.  However, Congress was unable to pass any individual FY 2017 appropriations bills.

The CR maintains current funding levels for all government agencies and programs including USDA, which is responsible for responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks and enforcing the Horse Protection Act. The CR also extends the language that prohibits USDA from using any funds to provide inspectors at meat processing facilities that slaughter horses, continuing a policy that began in 2005, except for a brief period in 2012 and 2013. No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the U.S. and this CR would prevent any such facility from opening until April 28, 2017.

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AHC: Final Reminder!

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The following is an announcement from the American Horse Council in Washington.

AHC

The webinar is open to both AHC members and non-members-we encourage everyone to attend, and to share this email with anyone you think may be interested! To register for the webinar, please click here. If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Furst at afurst@horsecouncil.org. We look forward to having you join us for the first of our quarterly webinars!

AHC Submits Comments on Proposed Horse Protection Act Regulations

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The following is an update from the American Horse Council in Washington.

AHCThe American Horse Council (AHC) has submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regarding proposed changes to the regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The AHC supports taking action to strengthen HPA regulations, but in its comments requested USDA make several important improvements to proposed rule.

The HPA was enacted in 1970 to prohibit the showing, exhibiting, transporting or sale at auction of a horse that has been sored.   Soring is an abusive practice used by some horse trainers in the Tennessee Walking Horse, Spotted Saddle Horse, and Racking Horse industry. It usually involves the use of action devices, chemicals, stacks or other practices to cause pain in a horse’s forelegs and produce an accentuated show gait for competition.  Despite the existence of a federal ban on soring for over forty years, this cruel practice continues in some segments of the walking horse industry. Soring is not a problem in other segments of the horse industry.

The USDA proposed rule would make several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring, including a new licensing program for HPA inspectors and a ban on action devices, pads, weighted shoes and foreign substances at walking horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions.

In its comments the AHC expressed its opposition to soring and its belief that action is needed to stop the soring of “big lick” Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses and Spotted Saddle Horses.  However, the AHC also voiced concerns that certain provisions of the proposed rule are too broadly written, not sufficiently defined, and could cause confusion for the horse show industry. 

The AHC’s comments strongly urge USDA to explicitly limit all new provisions to Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses, mirroring the widely supported   Prevent All Soring Tactics Act or PAST Act.  The AHC believes making this change will address most concerns the horse industry has with the proposed rule and will still achieve the goal of ending soring.

Additionally, the AHC supported USDA’s decision to eliminate the current Designated Qualified Person (DQP) program and remove Horse Industry Organizations (HIOs) from having a role in enforcement of the HPA.  The AHC believes the new Horse Protection Inspector (HPI) program proposed in the rule will be able to more effectively enforce the HPA.

The AHC  also asked USDA to take into consideration the costs the proposed rule could impose on smaller “flat shod” walking horse shows that make a good faith effort to comply with the HPA, and make accommodations for such shows.  The AHC proposed several changes to the rule that it believes would help control costs for these types of walking horse shows.

The AHC is unequivocal that many of the proposed changes to the HPA regulations are needed, but that it is equally important that any new regulations be narrowly focused on the problem of soring and do not  inadvertently impact or unnecessarily burden other segments of the horse show industry that have no history of soring horses.  This position is supported by over 180 Members of Congress who, led by Congressmen Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR), have signed a letter to USDA that supports the proposed rule, but also calls on USDA to explicitly limit all new provisions to Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses. This letter can be viewed here.

The AHC hopes USDA will included these needed changes in any final rule that is enacted.

The AHC’s full comments can be viewed here

Click Here To View Article on AHC

AHC Statement on Proposed Horse Protection Act Regulations

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This is an AHC Washington Update courtesy of the American Horse Council.

AHCMany individuals in the horse industry are aware that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has published proposed changes to the regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The proposed rule would make several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring, including a new licensing program for HPA inspectors and a ban on action devices, pads, weighted shoes and foreign substances at walking horse shows, exhibitions, sales, and auctions.

The American Horse Council (AHC) strongly opposes soring and believes action must be taken to stop the soring of “big lick” Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses and Spotted Saddle Horses.  However, the AHC is concerned that certain provisions of the proposed rule are too broadly written, not sufficiently defined, and could cause confusion for the horse show industry.  Like all industries, the horse show industry requires clarity in any regulatory regime that impacts its operation.  Soring is a problem that is well defined and limited to a very specific segment of the walking horse industry and any new regulations should reflect this fact.

The AHC’s formal comments to USDA will strongly urge USDA to explicitly limit all new provisions to Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses, mirroring the PAST Act.  Making this change will address most concerns the horse industry has with the proposed rule and will fulfill the purpose and intent of the HPA.

The AHC wants to be clear, many of the proposed changes to the HPA regulations are needed, such as replacing the ineffective Designated Qualified Person (DQP) program with a new independent inspection program. Additionally, because of a long history of utilizing action devices, stacks, weighted shoes, and foreign substances to sore horses, a ban of these items on Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses, and Spotted Saddle Horses is justified and needed.

However, the AHC believes it is equally important that any new regulations be narrowly focused on the problem of soring and do not  inadvertently impact or unnecessarily burden other segments of the horse show industry that have no history of soring horses.

The AHC will be submitting detailed written comments to USDA in the coming weeks.

View The Article on AHC Website

USDA Extends Comment Period for Proposed Changes to HPA Regulations

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The following is an AHC Washington Update.

AHCThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced it is extending the public comment period on proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act (HPA) regulations for 30 days.

On July 26, 2016, the USDA published proposed changes to the regulations governing enforcement of the HPA. The HPA was passed in 1970 to stop the cruel practice of “soring” horses that was occurring in some sectors of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse industry. The proposed rule would make several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring. 

This is a proposed rule only and USDA will now be accepting comments now until October 26, 2016.  USDA will then have to review all comments and release a final rule.  The proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register and can be viewed here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/07/26/2016-17648/horse-protection-licensing-of-designated-qualified-persons-and-other-amendments

The AHC opposes soring and will be submitting comments to USDA in the coming weeks. 

View The Article on AHC Website

AHC Work on Proposed Changes to Horse Protection Act Continues

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This is an update from the American Horse Council.

AHCMany members of the horse industry know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently proposed changes to the regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The HPA was passed in 1970 to stop the cruel practice of “soring” horses that was occurring in some parts of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse industry.

The proposed rule would make several changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of improving enforcement of the law and ending soring.  However, the proposed rule has prompted some questions about its potential impact on the wider industry, particularly on other gaited breeds.  The AHC has convened an HPA working group and has been engaging industry stake holders to answer some of these questions and draft formal comments regarding the proposed rule.  The AHC has been actively communicating with industry groups including the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the U.S Equestrian Federation, the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the American Morgan Horse Association, and the Arabian Horse Association.

“The AHC has always opposed soring and supported the enforcement of the HPA. There is no question that soring is an abusive practice that should not be tolerated or allowed to continue.  Because soring continues to be a problem in the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse industry, improvements to the HPA enforcement program are clearly needed and justified, “said AHC President Julie Broadway.

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Horse Industry by the Numbers

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According to the American Horse Council, the horse industry contributes approximately $39 billion in direct economic impact to the U.S. economy, and supports 1.4 million jobs on a full-time basis. When indirect and induced spending are included, the industry’s economic impact reaches $102 billion.

Some key industry statistics and economic indicators:

Estimated number of horses in the U.S.

9.2 million

Estimated number of horses by activity

Recreation- 3,906,923

Showing- 2,718,954

Racing- 844,531

Other- 1,752, 439

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USDA Proposes Changes to Horse Protection Act

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AHCThis alert is from the American Horse Council. Read the entire article on their website here.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced proposed changes to the regulations governing enforcement of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The HPA was passed in 1970 to stop the cruel practice of “soring” horses that was occurring in some sectors of the Tennessee Walking Horse, Racking Horse and Spotted Saddle Horse industry.

The proposed rule would make several major changes to current HPA regulations with the goal of ending soring.  The AHC is currently reviewing the proposed rule to determine its impact on the horse industry.  After the AHC has had the opportunity to analysis the details of the proposed rule we will follow up with additional information. The AHC Horse Show and Animal Welfare Committees will also be convening to discuss the proposed rule.

This is a proposed rule only and USDA will be accepting comments until September 26, 2016.  USDA will then have to review all comments and release a final rule.  The proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register and can be viewed here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/07/26/2016-17648/horse-protection-licensing-of-designated-qualified-persons-and-other-amendments

 The AHC opposes soring and continues to strongly support the PAST Act (S. 1121/ HR 3268) that will strengthen the HPA and finally end the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses, Racking Horses and Spotted Saddle Horses. 

Get Ready for the 2016 Tax Season

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The following post comes from the American Horse Council.

It’s never too early to get prepared for the 2016 tax season, and it’s always a good time to keep your accountant happy!

Both the Horse Owners and Breeders Tax Handbook and the Tax Tips for Horse Owners have been updated to be current through 2016, and as a previous purchaser of both, we wanted to extend a special offer to you (it’s only available until August 1st so act fast!):

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at info@horsecouncil.org

*Only purchase the 2016 Update if you have previously purchased the 2011 Horse Owners and Breeders Tax Handbook. All new purchases of the Horse Owners and Breeders Tax Handbook will automatically come with the 2016 Update.

Senate Committee Approves USDA Appropriations Bill

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The following post is from the American Horse Council.

Yesterday,  the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY 2017Agriculture Appropriations bill. T his bill provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the 2017 fiscal year (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017).  The bill contains several provisions that impact the horse industry, including the so-called “horse slaughter defunding provision,” funding for  USDA equine health activities and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.

FY 2016 House USDA Appropriations 

Horse Slaughter

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) offered an amendment to prohibit funding for USDA inspections at U.S. horse slaughter facilities that was  adopted by a voice vote. This prohibition will  prevent horse slaughter facilities from operating in the U.S. if this bill is signed into law.

Currently, No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the U.S and a prohibition  on funding for inspectors at such facilities from last year’s FY 2016 USDA bill is in effect until September 30, 2016 . If that prohibition expires, USDA will be required to provide inspectors and horse slaughter facilities if any were to  open.

A similar defunding  amendment was adopted by the House Appropriations Committee when it approved the House version of the USDA appropriations bill.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Equine Health 

The bill would provide $939 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is the USDA agency responsible for protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, including responding to contagious equine disease outbreaks.        Funding for Equine, Cervid, and Small Rumi ant health would be set at $19.7 million, this is a $200,000 increase over FY 2015.

Horse Protection Act

The bill provides $706,000  for enforcement of the Horse Protection Act a $9,000 increase over FY 2016 funding.

The bill must now be approved by the full Senate.

View this article on the AHC website

 

Registration Now Open for the AHC’s 2016 National Issues Forum

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Registration is now open for the American Horse Council’s 2016 Annual Meeting and National Issues Forum, sponsored by Luitpold Animal Health, taking place from June 12-15 at the Washington Court Hotel here in Washington, DC.

Registration is available online here, and more information including a tentative schedule and hard copy registration form can be found on the AHC website in the Events section. All hard copy registration forms can be emailed to afurst@horsecouncil.org, faxed to 202-296-1970, or sent via regular mail to 1616 H Street NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20006.

The AHC has reserved a block of rooms at a discounted rate of $289/night, and reservations can be made online here. Please note, all room reservations must be made before May 21 in order to guarantee the discounted rate.

If you have any questions about the meeting itself or registering, please contact Ashley Furst at afurst@horsecouncil.org or 202-296-4031.

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