The Idaho Horse Council has been instrumental in bringing about legislative modification involving animal welfare, including branding and animal abandonment, liability insurance, and simulcasting. During the 1990 legislative session, the Idaho Horse Council successfully lobbied to create an equine education account. Pari-mutual funds deposited to the public school fund and the Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory at the University of Idaho. All funds received by the laboratory must be match by private funds. These monies are then used for equine research benefiting the entire industry.
The Idaho Horse Council was organized in 1975 with the purpose of creating a united front representing encompassing horse groups, individual horse owners, and others involved with the horse industry. The Council was created because those charter members realized that: “As horse ownership and use increases, so do restrictions in the form of administrative or legislative regulations concerning various issues including travel, trail use, zoning, health requirements, horse shows and rodeos, tax status, racing, and access to state and federal lands.” The original founders believed that unless the horse industry is vigilant, informed and united, it will have no appreciable impact on the myriad of regulations beginning to affect the industry.
The purpose of this non-profit organization is to promote every kind of horse activity; be it’s official voice in Idaho; monitor legislation affecting horse activity; and act as an information resource for both horse owners and regulating bodies. The Council, along with numerous other State Horse Councils, is a member of the American Horse Council. The Idaho Horse Council through its approach as a cover agent for horse owners and organizations, and by its success with legislative efforts is considered a model horse council that has established an enviable track record.
The Idaho Horse Council’s goals include monitoring legislation; being vigilant and informed about pending equine health matters; promoting equine research and education through our state’s college and university system; monitoring trail use, development and maintenance; keeping it’s membership involved in decisions affecting zoning and land use; being informed and aware of competitive events of all kinds; and promoting the involvement of youth in equine activities. These goals have been largely achieved through the efforts of a dedicated board of directors and officers.
Some of the accomplishments include a complete census of the industry completed in cooperation with the University of Idaho’s College of Agriculture, and updated every five years. The latest census revealed that horse owners in Idaho have an estimated total of more than $1.6 billion in assets related to their horses. They contributed to our state’s economic well-being by an estimated $7.57 million in total sales in 2000 through the owning horses and to expenses related to that ownership. Equine ownership increased by 23% since the last equine census in 1995. Horses and their owners are an significant part of Idaho’s history and culture, and the relative value of these animals and equine-related events and activities has become a vital economic contribution to our state.
The Council has been successful in creating an Idaho Horse Board whose purpose is to award grants to various groups and individuals. The grants must be used only for promotion, education or research. To date, members of the board, who are appointed by the Governor, have awarded more than a quarter of a million dollars to widely varied groups including 4-H Clubs, Special Olympics, the CSI Equine programs, the Sho-Ban Equine Science Program, Idaho Rodeo Stock Producers, Back Country Horsemen, the University of Idaho’s mare-reproduction research program and various county fairgrounds. In 1994 eleven grants were awarded totaling $12,540. In 2004 the total of grant requests was $94,175. The Idaho Horse Board grants are funded through the brand check-off that is collected and administered through the State Brand Office.
The Council each year produces the State’s largest equine EXPO that Attracts exhibitors and spectators from across the Intermountain West. The EXPO features highly regarded trainers from across the state and nation; the latest in products ranging from jewelry to arena equipment; entertainment; industry-related seminars; and competitions from coloring books to ranch rodeos. A private treaty horse sale has also been established as a regular feature of the EXPO held each spring in the Treasure Valley, and new interests are added each year.
Not forgetting their concern with keeping our youth involved with horses, the Council offers scholarships to those young people who have been active within some area of the equine industry across the State. Application information is sent to each High School, or may be acquired by contacting the Horse Council Office.
In 2003 the Council published the first Industry Directory. In addition to information about the Idaho Horse Council, there are also reviews of the Idaho Youth Horse Council, the Idaho Horse Board, the State Brand Board, Government numbers and contacts, Federal and State Campgrounds and Overnight Stabling, the Legislative Effects on Ownership and Directories of Related Organizations and industries ranging from arenas, artists, boarding facilities, breeders, books, clothing, tack supplies, fencing, graphic designs, insurance, shows and events, race tracks, ranch supply stores, realtors, riding lessons and riding schools, training, transportation, Veterinarians and even website design.