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  • 07/06/2021 8:32 AM | Sarah Coleman (Administrator)

    Lexington, KY (July 6, 2021) - After a hiatus in 2020, the Kentucky Horse Council’s Large Animal Emergency Rescue (LAER) training is slated to return in the fall of 2021. The three-day training will take place at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington on September 10-12.

    LAER is taught by Justin and Tori McLeod of 4Hooves Large Animal Services, LLC, a North Carolina-based company that specialized in large animal technical rescue emergency response and training for emergency responders and veterinary professionals. The course is geared specifically toward veterinarians, emergency responders and animal control officers, but horse owners and industry professionals will also find the course beneficial in learning how to care for and extract equines in potentially hazardous situations while remaining safe.

    The course will cover topics like animal behavior; handling and restraint; containment; motor vehicle accidents and overturned trailers; entrapments; barn fires and wildfires; unstable ground incidents (mud, ditch, ice, etc.); water rescues; natural disaster preparation and response; hazardous materials decontamination and more. Specialized instruction will be given to participants based on their background and auditors are welcome.

    “The Large Animal Emergency Rescue training has proven to be a great learning experience for all veterinarians. Everyone from recent graduates to the most seasoned and tenured [vets] can expect to walk away with an increased knowledge base and practical situational preparedness and awareness,” says Dr. Rocky Mason, owner of Lexington Equine Medical Group and head of the Kentucky Horse Council Health and Welfare committee. “LAER has also served as a great format for interaction among varying first responders and agencies for a more seamless response in times of need and disaster.”

    "This is an excellent opportunity for veterinarians, volunteers and first responders to receive in-depth, technical training on situations that may involve animals with which they are unfamiliar,” says KHC executive director Sarah Coleman. “Justin and Tori have an incredibly knack for teaching veterinarians, emergency responders and equine enthusiasts how to work together for favorable outcomes while keeping everyone safe.”

    Continuing education credits for veterinarians have been applied for through the American Association of Veterinary State Boards. Sponsorship opportunities are available here.  

    For more information, click here or contact the Kentucky Horse Council at 859-367-0509 or

    To learn more about 4Hooves Large Animal Services at

  • 06/09/2021 10:09 AM | Eileen Cody (Administrator)

    Three-day Event Educates Officials on Animal Abuse and Neglect

    June 8, 2021 – Lexington, KY – After a hiatus in 2020, the Kentucky Horse Council’s Livestock Investigation Training (LIT) is slated to return in the fall of 2021. The three-day training will take place in Lexington from September 20-22. Registration is now open to all county and state officials, including animal control officers, sheriffs, police officers and other law enforcement officials and prosecutors in Kentucky.  

    Developed by the Kentucky Horse Council (KHC) in partnership with the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association (KCA) with input from experienced enforcement officers, veterinarians and livestock producers, this course is tailored to the needs of the Commonwealth. These trainings, officials will learn how to safely and strategically manage horses, cattle and other livestock running at large, as well as how to identify at-risk animals.

    LIT attendees will learn how to handle horses and cattle, assess body condition score in both species, identify situations that need intervention, and apply Kentucky statutes to animal-associated court cases. Attendees will also practice handling and evaluating live horses and cattle, as well as examining Kentucky statutes and enforcement procedures. 

    “We are excited for our Livestock Investigation Training to return this fall,” said Sarah Coleman, Kentucky Horse Council Executive Director. “These trainings provide vital education on animal abuse and neglect to our Kentucky peace officers. A good understanding of livestock handling and husbandry increases the likelihood of positive outcomes for loose animals or those found in neglectful situations.”

    The KHC has educated over 250 officers from 60 Kentucky counties since the inception of the trainings in 2008. The Commonwealth of Kentucky recognizes the importance of these trainings, with the Office of the State Veterinarian regularly sending investigators to the classes.

    The three-day course is approved as Continuing Education for Peace Officers by the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training as well as Pay Incentive Course Credit by the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council. Cost to attend the three-day training is $150 per officer. Out-of-state officials may attend for a fee of $250 per officer. Limited scholarships for tuition are available, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. Register for the course here. Download the sponsor packet here.

    For more information, visit or contact the Kentucky Horse Council at 859-367-0509 or

  • 04/13/2021 11:33 AM | Anonymous

    Blackwood Training Center in Woodford County Kentucky:

    Results of testing on the samples (Nasal Swabs and Whole Blood EDTA) collected from each horse stabled in Barn A at Blackwood Training Center on Friday, April 9th have been reported negative for detection of EHV1 DNA by PCR testing.  In addition to the testing that has been completed, the horses have been monitored daily and our findings support that it has been greater than 14 days since any horse in Barn A was last potentially exposed to a clinical case.  

    Meeting the criteria above provided us the confidence needed to release the group of horses in Barn A from restriction on Monday April 12 and allow them to resume their normal training and racing activities


    E.S. Rusty Ford

    Equine Operations Consultant

    Office State Veterinarian

    KY Department Agriculture


  • 04/05/2021 7:19 AM | Anonymous

    Follows are updates to our EHV-1 incident at Blackwood Training Center in Woodford County, KY.

    We are also taking this opportunity to share with you our understanding of the latest developments at Laurel and Pimlico in Maryland.

    Blackwood Training Center: Woodford County Kentucky:

    Results of testing on the samples (Nasal Swabs and Whole Blood EDTA) collected from each horse stabled in Barn B on Wednesday, March 31 have been reported negative for detection of EHV-1 DNA by PCR testing.  In addition to the testing that has been completed, the horses have been monitored daily and our findings support that it has been greater than 14 days since any horse in Barn B was last potentially exposed to a clinical case.  Meeting the criteria above provided us the confidence needed to release the group of horses in barn B from restriction and allowed them to resume their normal training and racing activities beginning on Friday, April 2nd.

    Barn A at Blackwood: Daily monitoring of the horses stabled in Barn A continues.  There have been no additional fevers or other symptoms in the group, and we have tentatively scheduled the horses in Barn A to be sampled (nasal swabs and whole blood) and tested by PCR later next week.

    Maryland: LAUREL/PIMLICO

    Published reports and conversations with animal health officials in MD, suggest the situation at Laurel continues to evolve as additional positive samples have been collected from non-clinical as well as a few horses exhibiting clinical signs.  The MD State Veterinarian and the Stronarch Group have decided the plan moving forward is to only sample and test symptomatic horses in the affected barns. Currently, their criteria for quarantine release will be 21 days of no clinical signs reported. This plan relies strictly on grooms/trainers/vets to report fever or other evidence of illness which in our opinion may result in lack of detection of circulating virus. This protocol is in direct contrast to the testing protocols, we have developed in consultation with infectious disease experts; and which I feel has aided our ability to maintain racing schedules/calendars with minimal disruption and inconvenience to the majority of horsemen. 

    In light of the current information available to us, we are in the process of developing strategies to mitigate what would be considered an elevated risk to our populations here in KY should MD release the imposed restrictions without diagnostically demonstrating the horses and environment are free of evidence of virus circulating.

    The probability is that for horses which have recently been (date to be determined) at Laurel or Pimlico, will require KY’s Office State Veterinarian approval prior to entering KY. These horses will likely be restricted and require veterinary examination and testing before being allowed to enter a KY racetrack or sanctioned facility.  This  protocol has worked well in the past when we’ve had to address disease events in other states where horses were released from restrictions without testing.

    I will be providing and distributing a general summary update late next week when results from the planned testing at Blackwood become available.  Feel free to contact me should you have any questions, comments or other concern.


    E.S. Rusty Ford
    Equine Operations Consultant
    Office State Veterinarian
    KY Department Agriculture

  • 03/15/2021 2:20 PM | Anonymous

    From: E.S. Rusty Ford, Equine Operations Consultant
    Date: March 15, 2021

    The additional 24 horses in Barn B of the index EHV1 affected premises, were sampled on Friday due to potential exposure of indirect transmission (riders) having occurred prior to confirmation of the index case. Two horses from this group had a trace amount of EHV-1 DNA detected in the nasal swab and were removed from the barn and segregated on Saturday.

    To date, 18 horses in index Barn A and 22 horses in Barn B have had one set of negative test (nasal swab and/or blood) . The last febrile horse was removed from Barn A and placed in isolation on March 10, 2021. There have been no clinical horses in Barn B since the start of the outbreak.

    Five of the nine horses in the isolation barn have tested positive with the last fever reported on Friday March 12, 2021. All horses in isolation are being monitored by the attending veterinarian.

    A second round of testing is being planned for the horses in barns A, B and Isolation.

    The management and staff of the premises continue to implement enhanced biosecurity and health monitoring protocols including multiple daily temperature recordings. Additionally, these enhanced measures have been implemented at other sanctioned training facilities in Kentucky.

    Staff from the Office of the State Veterinarian continue to closely monitor the situation.

    Appropriate biosecurity and other safeguards are fully implemented at Turfway Park.

    Updates will continue to be provided as information is learned.

    E.S. Rusty Ford
    Equine Operations Consultant
    Office State Veterinarian
    KY Department Agriculture

  • 03/12/2021 12:33 PM | Anonymous

    From: E.S. Rusty Ford, Equine Operations Consultant
    Date: March 12, 2021

    Results of the PCR testing conducted on samples collected Thursday were reported Thursday evening and did identify 5 additional EHV1 positive horses (neuropathogenic strain).  Two of the horses had been previously moved to the separate isolation barn, and we did relocate the additional three positive horses to isolation last night as well. With the 5 additional positive horses, our population of potentially exposed horses grew and samples are being collected and submitted from each of those 25 horses later this afternoon with results expected to be available over the weekend.

    Index Case Update: Following a period of stability, the index case rapidly deteriorated and has been euthanized.

    Other Guidance: Clearly, with the multiple ongoing EHV1 events involving multiple breeds, disciplines, and venues; Farms accepting new arrivals are to be reminded the IMPORTANCE of knowing the environment and status of where the horse arriving their farm originated and implementing needed husbandry practices that should include isolation, observation and assessment of the horse to insure healthy horses are introduced to your herd.

    While our investigation of the KY event as well as monitoring of disease events in other states continues, Kentucky State Veterinarian Dr. Katie Flynn and I will be providing further updates as information becomes available.


    E.S. Rusty Ford
    quine Operations Consultant
    Office State Veterinarian
    KY Department Agriculture

  • 03/11/2021 12:22 PM | Anonymous

    From: E.S. Rusty Ford, Equine Operations Consultant
    Date: March 11, 2021

    Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) has been confirmed in a 3yo thoroughbred filly in Woodford County, Kentucky.

    The filly reportedly had a fever on Saturday, and was referred to a veterinary hospital in Lexington Tuesday evening after becoming unstable and ataxic.

    The Kentucky State Veterinarians Office was alerted of the suspected EHV case on Tuesday night and the training facility was placed under restriction pending completion of diagnostic testing.

    PCR Testing conducted at Equine Diagnostic Solutions in Lexington, KY reported the neuropathogenic strain of EHV1 was detected from the nasal swab.

    Animal Health Officials have been present at the facility, previously imposed restrictions remain in place, and 27 exposed horses had samples (nasal swabs and whole blood) collected earlier today and submitted for PCR Testing.

    The horse was reported last night as showing signs of improvement.

    There is no connection to any other EHV1 incidents

    In addition to the affected premises, precautionary measures have been implemented at Turfway Park (live race meet) with all horses shipping in to race being required to stable in the receiving barn – unless trainer has permanently assigned stalls at Turfway.  In addition to adjustment of stabling, biosecurity protocols have been elevated.  The KY State Veterinarians office has personnel onsite examining health documents and coordinating efforts with the Ky Horse Racing Commission’s staff.

    Updates will be provided as information is learned.


    E.S. Rusty Ford
    quine Operations Consultant
    Office State Veterinarian
    KY Department Agriculture

  • 03/08/2021 8:46 AM | Anonymous

    From: E.S. Rusty Ford, Equine Operations Consultant
    Through: Dr. Katie Flynn, KY State Veterinarian/Executive Director
    Date: March 7, 2021

    2021 Occurences of Equine Herpes Virus Type-1
    Kentucky's Perspective and Position Updates: March 7, 2021

    In the past 7 days we have learned of multiple occurrences of EHV1 impacting equine events throughout the world. Additionally, as we are coming to the time of year that we historically see an increase in movement of equine exhibition and racing stock into Kentucky, I want to remind all associated parties that mitigating risk of disease introduction is a shared responsibility that requires commitment from each individual exhibitor, trainer, event managers, facility operators, veterinarians, and animal health officials. Facility managers and the managers of shows/exhibitions planned to be held in Kentucky should immediately review their biosecurity practices and if needed elevate their biosecurity plan to minimize the opportunity of horses having direct or indirect contact with one another.  Indirect contact would include common water and feed sources as well as shared equipment and congregating in common areas. The goal of a biosecurity plan is to prevent the transmission of infectious agents among individuals and the components of a successful program will include cooperation of management, affects the success or failure of the program. Copies of the American Association of Equine Practitioners biosecurity guidelines can be downloaded here or the Equine Disease Communication Centers website. The documents provide good general guidance of practices that should be routinely implemented, and we encourage show managers to share these directions with all exhibitors. Additionally, our office is happy to assist facilities, show management and event veterinarians in evaluating their individual plans and when a need is identified, assist in adopting and implementing a defined plan.

    Florida Status
    I did earlier today speak with the Florida State Veterinarian overseeing the EHV1 investigation and management of the disease incident in Ocala Florida.  As of today, there continues to be a single barn on the Ocala facility with EHV1 cases confirmed by diagnostic testing. The barn remains under quarantine and activity on the premises is being monitored by animal health officials. Equine presenting with evidence or suspicion of illness are being isolated and tested.

    Florida (Marion County)> Kentucky Movement
    We appreciate the proactive action taken by the Florida Department of Agriculture to mitigate further transmission of EHV1. With the epidemiologic investigation still in its early stages, the status of potentially exposed horses unknown, and the potential risk of fomite (human) transmission to other facilities during the days preceding the diagnosis, Dr. Flynn and I both feel we are justified in stipulating that in addition to our normal entry requirements, horses destined to KY from the Ocala area (identified as Marion County) be examined and a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) issued during the 72 hour period preceding the horse's arrival at the KY destination. The examination and issuance of the CVI should be performed by a veterinarian familiar with the individual horse and the environment from which it originates and with confidence the horse has not been recently exposed to a reportable disease. We will continue to monitor the activity in Florida and plan to reevaluate the CVI 72 hour CVI policy during the week ending Sunday, March 21st. 

    KY's EHV Position Statement March 7, 2021

    European Union EHV1 Concerns: Available Testing Options for Importing Horses Importation and Preplanning
    We continue to gather and assess information describing multiple outbreaks of Equine Herpesvirus 1 impacting equine events in several European countries. Reports published yesterday suggest there are now six countries with confirmed cases: Spain, Germany, Belgium, France, Sweden and a case in Qatar that is apparently linked to the European outbreak. 

    USDA announced this past Friday that horses importing through federal quarantine facilities can be sampled while completing quarantine will be allowed to be sampled with those samples sent by permit to a USDA approved laboratory for EHV1 testing by PCR. To schedule and accomplish testing, horsemen should work with their importing broker/agent to arrange for the samples to be collected, submitted, and tested USDA has advised us that results of the testing will be reported and shared before the horse releases from quarantine and that a positive result will not delay release of the animals so long as there is no fever or other symptoms detected. Our horsemen need to pre plan and insure they have suitable space available to isolate and quarantine any horse that is reported positive. After the horse(s) arrives in KY, we will work with the farm and attending veterinarians to better understand as quickly as possible the individual animal's disease status and associated risk it may pose. 

  • 03/04/2021 9:46 AM | Anonymous

    March 3, 2021--Frankfort, KY-

    Kentucky Equine Industry – Information for Sharing

    Earlier this afternoon I had the opportunity to speak directly with Florida Animal Health Officials overseeing the investigation of EHV1 in the Ocala area.  During the conversation I learned that on March 1st  a warmblood mare presented with neurologic abnormalities.  The 8yr old mare subsequently tested positive for EHV1 and confirmed to be affected with EHV-1 neurotropic strain.

    The affected horse was removed from the premises and placed in isolation.  The premises the mare had been stabled at was placed under quarantine with strict monitoring of the exposed population and heightened biosecurity measures implemented.  In addition to the affected premises, my understanding tonight is that heightened biosecurity practices and animal monitoring has been put in place and being practiced at show facilities in Ocala as well as the Wellington facilities.  I have also had conversations with practitioners currently working in those environments and they too conveyed to me the biosecurity and health monitoring practices that are in place.

    With the protocols currently implemented and monitoring by Florida’s Animal Health officials , we (Dr. Katie Flynn and I) feel there is no immediate elevated threat to our populations here in KY and that at this time there is no need nor benefit to impose additional restrictions on movement from the Ocala area.  We do though remind our horsemen the importance of knowing the environment and health status of new arrivals, and take necessary precautions before introducing new horses to resident horses.  

    In addition to the Florida event, we have also been gathering and assessing information relative to an escalating EHV1 disease event affecting sport horses in Europe.  The outbreak is reported to have originated in Valencia Spain with subsequent events in France, Belgium and Germany, collectively impacting equestrian events throughout Europe.  Published reports suggest National veterinary authorities in each country are working with the FEI Veterinary Departments in a coordinated effort to investigate, manage and bring under control the disease events with the National Federations providing needed support.  As of tonight there has not been any international movement restrictions put in place by USDA’s Veterinary Services Department.

    We will continue to monitor progression of the investigations and will keep you apprised of developments and any strategies that may be needed to mitigate risk to our horses and industry here in Kentucky.

    E.S. Rusty Ford
    Equine Operations Consultant
    Office State Veterinarian 
    502/782-5901 office

  • 01/28/2021 9:59 AM | Anonymous

    Dear Kentucky Horse Council Member,

    The equine industry in Kentucky is in peril—and we need your help to ensure our industry remains vibrant and viable for years to come. Recently the Kentucky Supreme Court made a decision that threatens the future of historical horse racing (HHR), which has been legally operating in the Commonwealth for nearly a decade. Should HHR be banned in Kentucky, every one of us will feel the ramifications of this loss, whether we own show horses, racehorses, pleasure horses or pasture puffs—of if we simply enjoy the equine industry in our great state.

    Though you may not live near the Red Mile, Churchill Downs, Ellis Park, Turfway Park, Kentucky Downs or Keeneland, have no doubt: The loss of historical horse racing will affect every one of us--profoundly. Historical horse racing is a vital part of Kentucky’s signature horse industry.  

    • Historical horse racing directly employs over 1,400 Kentuckians
    • More than $52 million has been contributed to the KY general fund though Sept. 30, 2020. HHR funds have also provided financial support to colleges and universities in the state and to equine research, among others
    • Historical horse racing contributes to higher purses, creating a more competitive racing circuit that attracts more horses, owners and trainers to Kentucky; these higher purses have revitalized Standardbred racing in the Commonwealth
    • Historical horse racing keeps Kentucky dollars in Kentucky
    •  Legislators can take action to protect our industry by defining pari-mutuel wagering and reinforcing that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission can only regulate pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing—NOT on any other form of wagering.

    So what can you do? A few things!

    1.  Email your legislators! The Kentucky Equine Education Project (KEEP) has made this extremely easy. Simply click on this link, enter a few pertinent details, and KEEP will ensure your message gets through and that your voice is heard.
    2. Virtually attend the Horsemen’s Rally, which will take place at Keeneland on Monday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. This event will host horsemen and state leaders from across KY to show support for HHR. Register for this event here, but note: The deadline to register is Friday, January 29: Horsemen For Historical Horse Racing Monday, February 1st - 6:00 PM Keeneland Racetrack
    3. Make sure your family and friends in the Bluegrass know what’s at stake. The Horse Council will be posting daily facts and statistics on their Facebook page, highlighting just what our vibrant industry brings to the economic table. Please share the posts that speak to you—it’s vital that everyone in our great state understand the ramifications of what will happen if historical horse racing is banned. 

      Thank you for your support of the Kentucky equine industry.

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