September 2016 Issue - page 1

Vol. 23 No. 9
Our 23rd Year
September 2016
(Continued on page 6)
Horse lost 12 days in MD park returns
home to York … pg. 10
Breeders’ feed bills go unpaid due to
wording change … pg. 14
Phillip Dutton & Mighty Nice win Olympic
bronze … pg. 4
Howard Taylor happy with his stable full
of stars … pg. 17
…and much more!
LANC., PA 17604
Address Services Requested
By Amy Worden
A disturbing scene straight
out of Anna Sewall’s classic Vic-
torian-era novel “Black Beauty,”
played out on a Lancaster County
road last month: A man in a straw
hat bending over a horse lying on
the pavement, appearing to beat
the animal with his hands. Be-
hind the bay horse was a wagon
full of watermelons.
A horrified passerby stopped
to snap some pictures she posted
to Facebook and reported the in-
cident to the police. The downed
animal had to be euthanized later
that day and a huge outcry erupt-
ed on social media.
Ephrata police on August 5
charged Marvin M. Sensenig, 20,
with two counts of animal cruelty –
one for kicking the horse in the ab-
domen and punching it in the head;
the other for forcing the horse to
“pull a farm wagon with a burden
too great for a single horse.”
Sensenig’s father told
Lancaster Newspapers that
the family disagreed with the
charges, but said they would ac-
cept them “if that will make any-
one feel better.” John Sensenig
said his family would never
intentionally abuse a horse and
accused passersby “who have ab-
solutely no knowledge of horses"
of exaggerating the situation.
The following week Marvin
Sensenig pleaded guilty to the
charges and paid a $760 in fines
and court fees.
But that was far from the end
of the story.
The case pointed up the rising
number of clashes between Amish
and Mennonite farmers - many of
whom who breed dogs, raise live-
Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery, members of the US Eventing Team that recently returned from
the 2016 Olympics in Rio, are regulars at the Plantation Field International Horse Trials in Union-
ville, PA September 15-18. Look for Boyd and your copy of Pennsylvania Equestrian at the Best.
Event. Ever. More information on page 29.
Photo credit: © Jenni Autry, Eventing Nation 2015
Horse Beating
Generates Calls for Stiffer
Animal Cruelty Laws
stock and rely on horses to power
their carts, wagons and plows -
and the non-farming public.
For the Sensenigs and other
Old Order Mennonite families
and the Amish, horses are utilitar-
ian sources of power and trans-
“They have a very different
lifestyle than the non-Amish,”
said Christine Hajek, founder and
president of Gentle Giants Draft
Horse Rescue in Mt. Airy, MD,
which has saved between 400 and
500 Plain sect work horses from
Pennsylvania in the last decade.
“In my experience there is no
emotional commitment to a horse,
even one you’ve had for 20 years.
If he can no longer work and
you can get another $500 at the
auction all the better.”
At a press conference
announcing Sensenig’s arrest,
Ephrata police Lt. Christopher J.
McKim denied a witness report
that an officer had said that the
Amish and Mennonites were
“immune” to the cruelty law.
“All Pennsylvanians are
subject to Pennsylvania law,”
McKim said. “At the time it was
unclear how the law applied until
we investigated.”
The case also exposed weak-
nesses in Pennsylvania’s animal
cruelty law. Most cruelty cases do
not rise above summary offenses–
same as a parking ticket– and that
limits law enforcement and pros-
ecutors with the level of charges
they can seek and restricts judges
in the fines and sentences they
may impose.
Adding to that is the farm
exception to the cruelty law.
Under the section of the state
Crimes Code that details the ani-
mal cruelty law, not all Pennsyl-
vania animals are treated equally.
Nicole Wilson, director of
Humane Law Enforcement at the
Pennsylvania SPCA, described
a stipulation involving farm
animals that allows for “normal
agricultural operations” such as
work pulling plows or wagons.
She said the PSPCA cruel-
ty tip hot line gets many calls
for what some might consider
abusive behavior, such as pulling
a wagon in extreme temperatures,
but do not constitute cruelty.
“Beating a horse till they
collapse obviously does not
constitute normal agricultural
operations,” she said.
Stiffer Laws
The wagon horse case and
several other high profile animal
cruelty cases in Lancaster in re-
cent months led Lancaster District
Attorney Craig Stedman to hold
a press conference and call for
stiffer laws for animal abusers.
Conviction on a summary
offense may result in a fine as low
as $50. Rarely does a judge im-
pose animal ownership bans and
when they do it might be for only
90 days. Rarer still is jail time.
Wilson, who has investigated
hundreds of cases throughout the
state, said only on one occasion in
her career did someone go to jail for
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