Correction by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation as to Previously Provided Requirements for Equine Boarding Facilities During Governor Evers’ Order #12, Safer At Home.
I previously posted to our law firm’s blog information as to what was required by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation as received by me from these agencies on March 25, 2020 so as to provide an informational service to equine boarding facilities, trainers and horse owners so they will be advised of their restrictions during this difficult time. I was advised by both agencies at the time that horse owners were not allowed to visit their horses for anything but emergency care. Other boarding facility owners and horse trainers in the State of Wisconsin were provided this same information. Unfortunately, many boarding facility owners endured serious backlash and harassment as a result of this information. I was required to remove the blog because of harassment to my staff and me. In one instance, a person even referred to me as “a horse killer”. Needless to say, this became a case of “killing the messenger”.
On Thursday, April 16, 2020, another horse owner posted a Facebook post by Wisconsin State Representative, Robert Brooks, in which he stated that he learned from the Governor Evers’ office that horse owners were not prohibited from riding their horses when boarded at a boarding facility. Although Social Distancing is required, the owners have the right to ride their horses. This was in direct conflict with the information previously reported to other barn owners and me by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Upon reading this post, I contacted the office of Representative Brooks for clarification and assistance so horse owners and building facility owners would receive a clear, written statement as to the restrictions horse owners had in having contact with their horses and the obligations of the boarding facilities. Darla Flemming at Representative Brooks’ office was of great assistance. She directly contacted the Governor’s office for clarification since the Orders were in direct conflict. I also contacted Wisconsin State Representative Scott Allen for assistance in obtaining this clarification as to the restrictions in this Order. The below email I received from Jennifer Campbell, the Chief Legal Officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation on April 20, 2020 is the final result. She granted me permission to post her email on the Probst Law Offices, S.C. website for informational purposes for the Wisconsin equine owners and business people:
“Hi Jane, I apologize that you have more nuanced questions than what I answered. I did not see these questions in your inquiry. The response provided specifically states: Owners of animals being boarded may visit their animals to provide necessary care and exercise, including the riding of horses. For the remaining questions you posed:
- How many people can be on the property at one time? This could vary with whether the barn has outdoor and indoor facilities and the size of the facility. The business owner of the boarding facility will need to determine these parameters based on the requirements provided below and the size and scope of their facility.
- May trainers still train their students if they maintain social distancing? The guidance does not provide for anyone other than the owner of the horse to visit and exercise the horse.
- Are masks required when a rider is off a horse? To my knowledge, there are no state-issued requirements for any individual to wear a mask at any time.
- Are the owners allowed to use bathroom facilities on the barn as essential workers are still allowed to do in office buildings? The business owner of the boarding facility will need to determine these parameters based on the requirements provided below and the size and scope of their facility.
- Are therapeutic riding businesses still allowed to operate since they are working with developmentally disabled, mentally ill and physically disabled people? The guidance does not provide for anyone other than the owner of the horse to visit and exercise the horse.
We encourage all inquiries regarding essential/nonessential businesses to submit an inquiry via our webpage: https://wedc.org/essentialbusiness/ ~ Thank you!”Jennifer Hagner Campbell
Chief Legal Officer
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
201 W. Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53703
To recap, horse owners are allowed to ride their horses and have regular contact with them at the boarding facilities. Horse trainers can still not provide public lessons. The Order only allows the horses to be ridden by the owners and barn employees, if it is in the course of their employment. There are to be no public lessons. This is considered recreational. Friends are not to travel to the barn to ride your horse. You can not bring friends to the barn to watch you ride. This is time for you with your own horse, and that is it.
Regardless of your political leanings, we Wisconsin horse owners, boarding facility owners and horse trainers owe a great debt of gratitude to the offices of Wisconsin State Representatives Robert Brooks and Scott Allen in obtaining the clarification of this Order. The initial interpretation by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation of Order #12 created a great hardship on horse trainers, horse owners and boarding facilities. Please remember that the boarding facilities are not responsible for the original interpretation of the Order. They were only complying with what they believed was required of them. They were required to assume additional responsibilities for the horses that would normally be provided by the horse owner.
These are confusing and difficult times for all of us. We should all be searching for solutions to problems, as opposed to arguing and complaining. As Ellen Degeneres states at the end of her television show, “Be kind to one another.” I, for one, am euphoric now that I can be reunited with my horse and pony. We will all get through these times.” ~ Jane Probst