JACKSON, Ky. (Source Article) — Curtis Bostic is an attorney, a politician and — for a few weeks in 2016 — an accused horse thief.
On a cold December day in the rugged hilltops of Breathitt County, Bostic was trying to rescue some horses he said had been abandoned and were malnourished. But he was arrested by a sheriff’s deputy, who said the horses belonged to two men who follow the local custom of setting them free in the winter to wander the wilderness of the county’s abandoned coal fields.
The charges were later dismissed after the sheriff’s department said it didn’t have probable cause to make the arrest. But during the night Bostic spent in jail, he came up with an idea: A few weeks later, he leased the land where he had been arrested. He sent a letter to the two men who had pressed charges against him. Now, they were the trespassers, and Bostic ordered them to come get their horses before he put them up for adoption.
“I can’t change the full county. But I can say you are not going to come to my property and drop your horse off in the cold winter,” Bostic said.
Bostic wants to turn 4,000 acres of former coal mines into a horse sanctuary. It’s the latest idea on how to tackle the growing horse population in the mountains of Kentucky, a state known more for pampered thoroughbreds on pristine farms than bony horses roaming free.
Bostic’s descriptions of thousands of horses suffering at the hands of cruel owners have offended the locals who say he doesn’t understand their culture.
Clifton Hudson, 30, owns five horses that he sets free to wander land he doesn’t own near his home in Breathitt County. He said he provides 600 pounds of salt each month for the horses. He stopped hauling hay bales to the land because the horses were not eating them, a sign he says means they have plenty of grass to graze. The locals often bring their children to the mountains on the weekends to pet and feed the horses.
“It’s just really it’s more of a pastime than anything else with the people of the county,” Hudson said. “So far the only person really had an issue with it has been Mr. Bostic.”
Wild horses have been a familiar sight in the Kentucky mountains for decades. But following the Great Recession and the thousands of jobs lost because of the disappearing coal industry, more horses have been set loose. Read the full story »
Source: WCPO Cincinnati. Report originally filed by the Associated Press. Written by Adam Beam . Featured image by Jervis Pics.
Previous to SB 139 becoming law, Kentucky horses were categorized as domestic animals and had the protections that go with it. Not that animal protection is a high priority in Kentucky. Kentucky is in the bottom five of the country in animal protection; some put it last.
SB 139 tags Kentucky horses as livestock, a clear demotion in status and entitlement to desperately needed protections. It is clear to see what a sad day March 27, 2017 was for the horses of Kentucky.
In every legislative step taken for SB 139 to become law in Kentucky not a single negative vote was cast against it despite hearing from constituents strongly opposed to it. Of course, lawmakers in Kentucky may tell you differently. If they do they are lying.
Kentucky lawmakers may also tell you this is simply a necessary step towards awarding tax breaks down the line to horse owners in Kentucky. Again, untrue. This could have been done without reducing horses to livestock.
These same Kentucky lawmakers may also tell you that this has nothing to do with horse slaughter yet SB 139 conveniently opens the door to it.
We think it is a fair statement to say that the horse industry in Kentucky cares only about the money they make off these horses’ backs and precious little about the horses themselves. We see no evidence to the contrary. Where were they in all of this? Backing SB 139? Or will they now conveniently say that Kentucky lawmakers ignored them too?
The timing is interesting with the Kentucky Derby weeks away when the eyes of the world will be on Kentucky. How will they all be viewing this?
Now according to Kentucky the “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports” is run by a bunch of livestock.
In an article posted online by the Blood-Horse  it states:
A Kentucky bill that would uniformly designate horses as livestock has been approved by both houses of the legislature and now awaits the signature of Gov. Matt Bevin.
Once the legislation (SB 139) becomes law, it would provide the groundwork for state lawmakers to move forward on related tax reforms that have the potential to save horse industry participants millions of dollars.
We reiterate. They need not change the horse’s status in Kentucky from a domestic animal to a livestock animal in order to accomplish this. They could have done the reverse.
Instead of demoting the status of the horse Kentucky lawmakers could have elevated it recognizing the contributions of the horse industry to the Commonwealth by giving the participants the tax breaks they seek.
This also from the same article:
Currently the sales taxes on horse feed and supplies generates about $18 million annually. All other livestock are exempt from sales tax on those same necessities.
Whose pockets are these millions coming out of? And this in a State that is routinely listed as one of the ten poorest in the US.
The Blood-Horse continues:
Sen. Robin Webb, an accomplished horsewoman from Carter County, sponsored the bill, which she said provides badly needed consistency across all statutes.
This statement is particularly rich. Webb is accomplished alright, accomplished in not only committing horse abuse but also publicly sanctioning it.
Webb was cited for horse soring violations, a particularly heinous type of abuse meted out to Tennessee Walking Horses . She was called the “Big Lick Queen” in a Lexington-Herald Leader article . Webb “even defended the horrifying tape that showed Jackie McConnell, who is now a felon, beating and torturing horses.” .
No, we do not want someone like Sen. Webb setting the standard for horse cruelty in Kentucky or anywhere else. Kentucky lawmakers are surely aware of Webb’s background.
Here’s another look into how the notorious Webb thinks from the cited article:
“ . . . some animal rights groups have tried to position the legislation as a backdoor to permit horse slaughter.
“That is not what this bill is about,” she said. “There are other livestock animals that are not raised for food, like alpacas or llamas. Whatever else is being said is just rhetoric to sensationalize and raise money.”
Classifying an animal as livestock does not mean they will be slaughtered for food but they can be slaughtered for food.That opens the door.
Here is another interesting question. Why are kill buyers with feedlots in Kentucky who supply slaughter plants with horses happy about SB 139? But that’s only hearsay and can’t be relied on.
Kentucky Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne of Oldham County was noted as saying in the article:
Osborne also stressed the bill in no way opens a door for horse slaughter nor weakens any horse protection laws. He said the same day SB 139 was approved unanimously, the legislature also passed HB 200, which would make it easier for local officials to intervene and remove horses in abuse and neglect cases.
HB 200 was written to, “Amend KRS 525.130, relating to cruelty to animals in the second degree, to allow a court to order an offender to pay restitution for the upkeep of a horse involved in the offense and terminate the offender’s interest in the horse involved in the offense.” 
Getting a court order is very difficult as we have seen in past horse abuse cases across the country concerning all breeds but particularly in Tennessee and Kentucky. We will be testing this at once should it become law and see if it actually helps.
Then there’s these individuals from Kentucky Equine Education Project:
KEEP chairman Corey Johnsen. “Many KEEP members have been instrumental in getting this legislation to this point, but we owe particular recognition to Frank Penn for being a tireless leader and advocate on this issue from the start.”
“Having horses and equines included as livestock in Kentucky law has been a key policy priority for KEEP since its founding over 12 years ago,” said Penn, a KEEP board member and chairman of the organization’s Equine Sales Tax Equity Task Force. “I applaud the Kentucky legislature for their unanimous support of SB 139 and recognizing horses’ rightful place along side other agriculture commodities in Kentucky.”
The horses’ rightful place along side other agriculture commodities in Kentucky. You get the drift, right?
If Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signs SB 139 into law, we are ready to take immediate action to test these ideas.
We will see what their motivation truly is. Perhaps they will prove us wrong. Nothing would make us happier.
In the meantime, if you are a Kentucky resident please take action. Do not delay! See below.
On March 15, 2017, SB 139, the Kentucky State Bill reducing horses to livestock — removing what precious few protections they have — was sent to the Governor’s Office to sign into law.
Kentucky already has an abysmal record when it comes to animal protection laws and enforcement. If this becomes law it may deliver a black eye to Kentucky that it may never recover from.
SB 139 passed both the Kentucky State Senate Agriculture Committee and Kentucky State House Agriculture unanimously.
We cannot find that a single negative vote was cast against a bill so insensitive to the well being of horses in the Kentucky State House or Senate although Kentuckians raised their voices in opposition to it.
The State legislator who introduced SB 139, Sen. Robin Webb (D-Grayson), and pushed it through is herself an animal abuser. In 2013 Webb was cited for violations of the Horse Protection Act for evidence of horse soring.
Another issue concerning SB 139 reducing the status of horses to livestock is that it paves the way for horses to be slaughtered in Kentucky.
Securing livestock classification has been among the top policy priorities of the Kentucky Equine Education Project since its 2004 creation. In horse circles KEEP is known to be pro horse slaughter.
A KEEP board member said, “I applaud the Kentucky legislature for their unanimous support of SB 139 and recognizing horses’ rightful place along side other agriculture commodities in Kentucky.”
Others in Kentucky’s horse industry who have cheered loudly and lustily in support of this move say it is only about tax breaks and incentives. However, they did not have to put Kentucky’s horses at risk to do this.
Kentucky lawmakers could have thought outside the box and elevated the horse’s status by giving them their own unique classification apart from other animals, then awarded members of the State’s horse industry with all the perks in the world, and at the same time set the standard for other States to follow.
However, this never occurred to any of them because they do not really value the horse at all.
All of this in a State who built its reputation on the back of the horse, is home to the Kentucky Derby and uses the horse in its logo.
CONTACT KENTUCKY GOVERNOR MATT BEVIN State You OPPOSE SB 139 Becoming Law