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February 2009

Horse property rights: Grim tone improves

PropertyRights02_19_09 FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- The grim tone improved Thursday, Feb. 19 at the second of two feedback sessions regarding new potential land use regulations for horse business owners as common themes emerged: Unify, simplify and loosen.

By evening’s end, horse businesses owners realized the need to unify. “This is really important. We have to, on this one, band together,” said Jenny McGraw, real estate broker, horse owner and former mayor of Timnath.

McGraw called it “a great one,” acknowledging a comment Tuesday at the first feedback session by Linda Hoffman, facilitator of the land use rules study, who noted the diverse interests of local horse enthusiasts, and quipped, “You all don’t even trust each other.”

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Horse property use: “We need a miracle”

FORT COLLINS, Colorado -- Distrust of county government and alleged unfair treatment set the tone for the first feedback session on changing the property rights of Larimer County horse businesses.

 “We are scared,” one stable owner told the 70 – 80 people that attended the meeting Tuesday, Feb. 17 at the county courthouse offices. “I believe horse people are being targeted.” The horse industry “is not big or profitable, but it’s a great industry.”

Linda Hoffman, director of the county’s Rural Land Use Center, tried to calm fears. Properties boarding up to four horses currently operate rule-free, but since nobody knows where this study will go, that could change.

“We are very anxious to find a way to preserve and protect the long-term health and viability of the equine industry in Larimer County,” said Hoffman. A self-described “Kansas farm girl” with family ties to the horse industry, Hoffman is in charge of facilitating the study.

Many questioned why the county is taking action so quickly after the bitter livestock battle three years ago when proposed restrictions – that included all horse owners – were quashed in a vote by county commissioners. 

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Who's what, marked where?


(Earn points and free badges at our sister site, Mane-U. We are mobile-friendly and love horse trivia.)

The other evening when I brought horses in from their daily turnouts, I found two horses in the same pen, wearing identical blankets, and at first glance, the geldings looked identical. A closer look revealed that my equine friends were actually a brown and a bay. I instantly knew who was who, and therefore who went where. At a stable, you typically have a lot of horses, and being able to describe an individual to the veterinarian, the farrier, or other help becomes crucial. Colors and markings are the equivalent of your horse’s license plate. And if you move into a horse profession, brand inspector, sales broker or breeder for instance, you need an even deeper understanding of colors and markings. Larimer County Horse Project 4-H’ers will find something about colors and markings on almost every written test they take. We think this game (click on the photo to launch the quiz) is appropriate for a 4-H Advancement Level I or II written test. Try it to see how your knowledge stacks up. Have fun!
Had trouble? Follow these links to learn more:
Morgan Horse colors
Quarter Horse colors
Paint Horse markings

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Larimer land use rules loom

Click here to enlarge. Pull leather buckaroos, your land use rights are about to change.

For the uninitiated, land use rules affect your property's value, your ability to operate, and what you might like to do with your horse property in the future.  Naturally, everyone wants to protect their land use rights.

The conflict develops however, as communities expand and the dusty, smelly side of horses along with an occasional owner who trashes the land, begin to offend newly-arrived neighbors. Horse owners, as well as those seeking horse activities, start to find themselves squeezed.

Hay fields give way to other development, and businesses that depend on the horse industry (an annual $1.6 billion and 21,300 jobs in Colorado) see shrinking clientele. Eventually, the rural – and often historic -- horse culture goes the way of the Native American Indians.

I know because I saw it happen in Santa Clara County -- home of Silicon Valley -- where I grew up.

The great horse-industry-disappearing-act plays out yet another scene today 

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Clydesdales save Super Bowl XLIII

I used to think of the Super Bowl as a good time to buy groceries because I could shop in peace while everyone else sat glued to their televisions. No more. For me, the Super Bowl now qualifies as a major horse event, thanks to the Budweiser Clydesdales. These awesome examples of the world’s largest horse breed - and their marketing department – deserve applause for their Super Bowl entertainment. And, I’ll admit, even for a reluctant viewer like me, this year’s Super Bowl qualified for high drama with the last second, ballet-style leap and catch by the really cute guy playing for the (I think) Steelers. Anyway, horse lovers, treat yourself to these Budweiser Clydesdale video links. (Don’t worry if you see the Coke commercial first. For some reason, it’s stuck to the Clydesdales.)
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