Third Annual Colt Starting Challenge

October 12, 2013

On Saturday, October 19, 2013, SEFHA will host their 3rd Annual Colt Starting Challenge. SEFHA Colt Starting Sign at Old Dominion Ag Complex

This contest features full-time horse training teams who work within a three-hour radius of Chatham, VA. While demonstrating natural horsemanship training, these professionals will take unbroken horses they have never seen before and transform them into relaxed, confident mounts. At the end of the day, the trainers and their equine “students” will compete in an obstacle course to determine the winner of the Colt Starting Challenge.

Click here to read a feature written about this year’s Colt Starting Challenge, published in the September/October 2013 edition of Horse Talk Magazine.



2012 Census of Agriculture

January 16, 2013

If you received your Farm Census in the mail, please make sure you fill it out and send it back. It is our opportunity for our horses to count in Virginia! for more info.


Horses Too Reliant on Humans?

October 4, 2012

A French researcher has conducted tests that suggest domestic horses may be too reliant on humans.  You can read the story here.

While the results may be inconclusive based on the limited data generated, it’s no surprise that a domestic animal would lose some of its problem-solving abilities.  I imagine a wolf is better at finding food than an urban Cocker Spaniel.  And if you don’t intend to return the horse to the wild, it’s not really a big deal.


Horse Slaughter Outlawed in New Jersey

September 25, 2012

New Jersey governor Chris Christie signed into law last week a ban on horse slaughter in the state.

“This bipartisan measure is a nod to our decency and respect for horses in our state, ensuring that no horse is slaughtered in New Jersey for human consumption,” Christie said.

You can read the whole story here.

Christie is the champion of smaller government and getting government off our backs, yet he felt the need to impose a governmental ban on something that isn’t even happening in New Jersey.  Perhaps a ban on pandering would be more helpful.


Dinwiddie Woman Surrenders Ownership of Animals

May 23, 2012

DINWIDDIE – Sara Johnson forfeited ownership of numerous animals, including more than 40 horses, 19 dogs, six goats and two sheep, in General District Court on Monday.

Johnson, through her attorney Sue Kessler, agreed to surrender ownership of the animals, which have been seized in place, on her White Oak Road property in DeWitt until suitable locations for them to be placed are found.

Kessler told Judge John Dodson that her client didn’t “feel comfortable” with the one part of the agreement dictating that she must repay the county for the cost of caring for the animals until they are moved, specifically that an exact dollar figure was not listed in the agreement. However, Kessler and her client agreed to the drafted agreement.

Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Lisa Caruso said that as part of the agreement, Johnson acknowledges that the animals – 31 mare horses, 13 gelding horses, three stallion horses, seven male horses, two mare mini horses, two mare donkeys, one stallion donkey, one male mule, seven male dogs, five female dogs, 14 dogs of undetermined gender, six goats and two sheep – were not receiving adequate care.

As part of the agreement, Johnson will be allowed to care for the remaining animals on her property, but she waives her Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure and will allow Dinwiddie County Animal Control officers, veterinarians and Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s deputies onto her property at any time to inspect the condition of the animals until they are moved.

Dinwiddie County Animal Control Chief Warden Deborah Broughton said that she’s pleased with the agreement. She added that the terms of the agreement necessitate Johnson’s assistance in caring for the animals due to the large number on the property.

“It’s very hard to control when you have to seize the animals in place,” Broughton said.

Caruso said she could not speculate on why Johnson was not caring for the animals, but said that it is clear that she wasn’t.

“That’s why we have this agreement,” Caruso said.

Cindy Smith, a founding member of the horse rescue group that Sara Johnson belonged to in 2010, Central Virginia Horse Rescue, said that she was shocked to learn of her friend’s situation. She said that she felt partly responsible for failing to intervene after Johnson sent her an email in January seeking support.

“She said she had too many horses and needed some help,” Smith said.

Smith receives three to five similar emails daily from around the region and across the state. Her return message asking for more information went unanswered.

“Sarah is a wonderful person, and I would have thought that she would have provided a better home for those horses,” she said. “She was one of the most well-meaning people I’ve ever met.”

Broughton said that the animals have been improving with the care they’ve been receiving since last Wednesday. Last week, Broughton said that some of the animals were extremely emaciated and scored the worst possible mark on a nine-point scale to gauge horse body condition and well being. The animals are being assessed daily and are being fed two to three times daily.

Johnson left court Monday afternoon in a white SUV with Virginia horse enthusiast license plates.

Caruso said that criminal charges haven’t been filed yet in the case, but didn’t rule out the possibility that they would be.

The case will return to General District Court for review on May 31.

– F.M. Wiggins may be reached at 732-3456, ext. 3254 or From

Horse Uses Facebook to Find a Home: Penny the Horse is Getting Social

May 8, 2012

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Penny the horse is hoping to harness the power of Facebook to find a new home.

The 18-to-20 year old quarter horse has been up for adoption through Suffolk Animal Control since spring 2011 after being seized by animal control officers for being severely underweight.

Veterinarians have evaluated Penny and have found nothing wrong with her, other than she’s a fast eater. Doctors say this is because of her past neglect.

The horse is said to have good manners and is looking for her forever home. Suffolk officials say she spends her time pastured with mares or geldings, and has been been good with goats, dogs and cats as well with no problems.

Penny is up-to-date on shots, Coggins, worming, dental work and farrier care and enjoys getting sprayed off with a hose to cool off.

Penny can be found on Facebook page or on YouTube.

More information on Penny can be received by calling the Suffolk Animal Control at 757-514-7888.

May 2, 2012


Bedford County Investigators Searching for Horse Slasher

February 10, 2012

Montvale, VA-Three horses in Montvale are on the mend after investigators say someone slashed their throats.

The horse’s owner Karen Sharpe says she can’t believe anyone would do something like this. Sharpe was boarding the horses at a relative’s house when the incident happened.

Sharpe’s little family of horses, Mary Jane, Roxy, and Rainey are all on the mend, stitches now covering their wounds.

“Someone took a knife and tried to slit the throats of the three horses,” said Major Ricky Gardner with the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office.

Some of their cuts are six to eight inches long and three to four inches deep.

The youngest horse, Rainey had the worse cut of the three horses. But the owner says all of the horses are expected to make a full recovery.

Relatives say some of the horses have become skittish and shy to come near the gate, but time is healing those wounds as well.

“Obviously whoever did this is a very mean spirited person that would do that to an animal,” said Major Gardner.

Investigators say they believe this is an isolated incident.

If you know anything about this crime, call the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-798-5900.