2018 Readers’ Choice Awards: Ovation Riding Definitive News Story of the Year

What news story best defined 2018? Take a look back at our most-read pieces and vote in our poll.

At the end of each December, we at Horse Nation like to look back on the year that was and highlight the articles, essays and videos that most inspired readers, triggered important conversations or had everyone rolling on the floor with laughter — and then let readers decide which one is deserving of the title of the Best of the Year.

While we love making readers laugh or digging up the next big viral video, one important role of Horse Nation is to follow equine news. These are the eight most-read news stories of 2018, and we want readers to vote for which one they feel best defines the year that was.

The nominees are…

American Horse Council Meets With DOT-FMSCA Over ELD Mandate

Trailers of the East Coast/Flickr/CC

The overnight realization that horse owners and other livestock haulers would be heavily affected by a new mandate that would require electronic logging devices and closer adherence to hour limits behind the wheel sent shockwaves across the horse industry, and mobilized various organizations to fight for a compromise. American Horse Council was instrumental in representing the needs of the horse industry, from professionals to recreational riders who would all be affected. Read the whole story here.

100 Horses Seized From Maryland Horse Farm, 25 Found Dead

Appaloosa mare rescued from Hebron horse graveyard Sunday March 18 2018.
Photo by Robin Neary at Changing Fates Equine Rescue

The rampant abuse and neglect at a horse farm in Wicomico County, Maryland was some of the worst in recent history, with about 100 horses seized from a property after a news helicopter first broke the aerial images. While this story was one of tragedy, it was also one of triumph with a number of rescues and organizations coming together with support from the surrounding community to rescue the survivors. Read the whole story here.

Alabama Vet Student Accused of Conning Horse Owners

Willie, one of the many horses to disappear under Blackwood’s care. Screen shot.

This story was heartbreaking, but also served as a warning to horse owners when a solution sounded too good to be true — sometimes, it really is too good to be true. Fallon Blackwood took in horses from unsuspecting owners, promising them a great forever home as a vet student, and presumably ran most of those horses through kill sales. Blackwood was charged with obtaining property by false pretenses and was arrested in April. Read the whole story here.

Horse Sues Abuser in Oregon

Flickr/Carmen Popescu/CC

In what could prove to be a watershed case, a horse now called Justice, based in Oregon, sued his abuser for damages for ongoing cost of care, plus pain and suffering. Represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Justice sought restitution with funds intended to go to a fund set up to cover his future cost of care after he suffered abuse and neglect that created permanent issues. This story opened up fascinating discussion about the ethics of animals’ rights within the legal system and what kind of precedent could be set. Read the whole story here.

CSU Withdraws Partnership From BLM Ovariectomy Plan

Flickr/BLM Oregon/CC

Wild horse lovers and advocates were alarmed and disgusted in 2018 by the Bureau of Land Management’s intended study on wild mares involving ovariectomy by colpotomy: permanent sterilization by the removal of the ovaries with a method labeled by advocates and veterinarians as too risky for wild mares. Amid public outcry, the study’s partnering organization Colorado State University announced its withdrawal from the plan. Read the whole story here.

EIA-Positive Horse Sparks Multi-State Quarantine & Holds


A horse sold out of Weld County, Colorado tested positive for equine infectious anemia in August of 2018 in the state of Wyoming — the horse had been sold and crossed state lines before its Coggins test was returned, in a direct violation of law. The estimated other 240 horses on the index property had been exposed, with about 100 of those sold and shipped to various states in the elapsed time, which spurred a multi-state search to try to track down those horses and test and quarantine them before EIA spread to other properties. Read the whole story here.

California Horse Community Needs Help in Deadly Wildfires

Embed from Getty Images

The intense speed and ferocity of the Camp and Woolsey fires in California stunned the world, with images from the fires including horses and other animals evacuating before plumes of thick smoke and distant flames reminding us all that where there are people, there are horses. As always, the horse world comes together to help its own, and reader response to this piece reminded us all of our worldwide equestrian community. Read the whole story here.

FEI Terminates Agreement With AQHA & NRHA

Team USA’s youngest rider, 18-year-old Cade McCutcheon, laid down an impressive performance aboard Custom Made Gun, a 7-year-old stallion at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018. (FEI / Liz Gregg)

The FEI announced in November that both the National Reining Horse Association and the American Quarter Horse Association were both in violation of the cooperation agreement, and that the agreement had thus been terminated. Both organizations responded with statements of their own stating that FEI rules were too complex and expensive to enforce for competition, and that their own drug policies were appropriate for their own events. Read the whole story here.

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