Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kristina Foss's Second Chance Ranch Sounds Like a Scam

Welcome back faithful readers. Thanks for sticking with me despite the long wait. Let's start with some news headlines first:

I got an anonymous tip that horse rapist and murderer Sterling Rachwal is driving a 2000 Red Ford Explorer, Wisconsin plate 377 XXE. I was unable to confirm this, so don't treat it as gospel. However, if you see this truck parked where it shouldn't be, and there are horses around, do call the police. There's nothing wrong with reporting a suspicious vehicle and asking an officer to check it out.

(example photo, not his actual truck)

Michael Feist of Otter Creek Ranch in western Wisconsin was supposed to be sentenced after FINALLY being convicted of 32 counts of animal abuse (starving horses) in March this year. However, he fired his lawyer (again) and the court is giving him an extension. His new sentencing date is August 28th, 2015. Read more on that horrific case here. If you want the judge to throw the book at him, feel free to contact her at:

Hon. Judge Molly E. GaleWyrick
1005 W. Main St. Suite 600

 Balsam Lake, WI 54810

Feist is also involved in a big civil suit, and I would love to know the gory details behind all that. Seems like a bunch of people are owed a BUNCH of money.

Next up, A 21 year old dude visiting from Chicago decided it would be funny to slap a WI police horse as hard as he could and then run away. Guess who won that race? (Yes, the horse.) Doc, one of Madison's Mounted Patrol horses, was basically unhurt but a bit startled by the noisy slap on the rump. The idiot, Nathaniel Robinson, who by rights should have been kicked in the teeth, was instead hauled into jail. Here's his mugshot. You can plainly see him reconsidering his life choices. Can you imagine having to explain that misdemeanor on your criminal record at a job interview? 

Hey, Dane County Humane Society is FINALLY going to do a barn-building fundraiser! For years DCH has relied on an unstable group of fosters and at least one sketchy "rescue" to house the horses they take in from neglect cases and owner surrenders. Now they're going to build a horse barn of their own-- if we can help them! Hope you can make it to this fabulous fundraiser.

Speaking of neglect cases, a group has gotten together to try to improve Wisconsin's abysmal track record of weak animal neglect laws and even weaker enforcement of those laws. Let's hope they keep us in the loop!

Last piece of news: Midwest Horse Welfare, the largest and finest horse rescue in Wisconsin, just took on some horrifically neglected horses in Clark County. The law enforcement officers there got them involved as soon as they could, and are trying to seize as many animals as they can-- kudos to them! We need more officials willing to go after neglectors. Midwest is obviously going to need some help in the coming months with these severe cases, so now would be a good time to donate.

This is one of several in similar condition.

Now on to the main event.

Kristina Foss (previously Kristina Kauffman) is the owner of the "rescue" Second Chance Ranch.
She caught my attention when she posted on a WI Facebook group:

Now, upon seeing this, you may happily exclaim, "Hooray, a wonderful new rescue! Golly, I'll donate to this great facility right away! I am sure this is an honest person and a worthy cause!"

...and if that is the case, then poor, naive, uninformed sucker that you are, I'll have to hit you upside the head with a clue stick. (Don't worry, the only permanent side-effects are chronic cynicism and a taste for neat whiskey.)

It amazes me that so many people automatically jump up to support anyone calling themselves a rescue, regardless of obvious warning signs, and then act absolutely flabbergasted when these places turn out to be scammers, hoarders, or neglect cases. What obvious warnings signs? Well, you could spend ten minutes on Facebook and Google and see for yourself... but I'll tell you below. So you don't think I'm making things up, I've included links and screenshots for proof. You can click on the pictures to see them full size. Again, this is all easily accessed public information. What I'm doing here is what anyone should do before giving a person or organization trust, public support, significant cash donations, or live animals.

Possible Lies: Foss says she has experience with rescue because she "worked at an animal shelter for years." When someone commented on Foss's group post asking which shelter she'd worked at, she claimed both Eau Claire County and Chippewa County. I called them to find out. Chippewa County did not call me back as of press time. Eau Claire said it's possible she could have worked or volunteered there before 2013.
However, they could not find any records of her doing so, and the name was unfamiliar to them.

Suspicious and sketchy: Foss has said she went to school to get a vet tech degree and intends to finish up later. (She attended the for-profit, dubious Globe University/Minnesota School of Business. It's basically a degree mill, a scam.) 
You would think someone with some vet tech training would know what pneumonia is. Instead, Kristina calls is "amonia" and apparently one of her rescue horses died from it. Unless it was a heart attack too? Hmmmm.

Did I mention she gave her puppy away in 2014 because of its annoying behavior, only to buy a new one later?

  And then there's her un-spayed cat and dangerous barbed wire fencing.

If you're starting to have a little bit of doubt that this girl is a suitable horse rescue manager, good! Keep reading. It gets worse. Again, this is all easily accessed public information. What I'm doing here is showing you what you, if you weren't so busy, would be looking at to see if this is someone you can trust.

Outright lie: Kristina Foss says her rescue is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Yet the IRS has no record of that, under any of her personal names, or under her rescue's name. How do I know? The public can look up the tax exempt status of any organization on this part of the IRS website, or call the EO dept of the IRS directly at 1-877-829-5500.*

Sketchy: Kristina seems to be awfully short on money to be able to take in a bunch of rescue horses. This year she's started two pages on GoFundMe, a begging personal fundraising website. One page is for donations to her horse "rescue," another was for medical expenses for one of her three young children. It sounds like she could also use some money to pay off debts, since as of March of this year, she owes a daycare $1,500, she and her ex owe a hospital $3,200, and the debts go further back. In mid-March 2014 she had her car repossessed. These debts, by the way, are also public knowledge. You can look up the recent criminal record of Wisconsin citizens by going to CCAP and simply searching by name.

If you're still not convinced that Kristina Foss is bad news, let me show you three more things.

1) Doing stupid shit to kids. Kristina says this horse has never been backed before, yet here she is putting a little girl in the saddle, a girl not wearing a helmet. In one of the pics, there isn't even anyone holding the horse-- the mare is tied to a fence.

And here's another example-- a helmet-less little girl sitting on a horse that's "almost broke." Nice. Yes, that's more barbed wire in the background.

2. Let's go back and take a further look at one of Kristina's debt records for a moment. Notice anything odd? (Remember, click the pic to make it full size.)

Yeeaaah, as of March 2015, Kristina was telling the court that she has "no current address." Meaning that either she refused to give them one, or she was lying and saying she's homeless.

3. Kristina's Second Chance Ranch Facebook page contains virtually no information on her rescue, other than her name and contact info. The GoFundMe page for her "rescue" is basically just pictures copied directly from Ryon's Rescue Pen, a Facebook group dedicated to buying up slaughter-bound horses in Minnesota. There's a side-by side comparison below.

Kristina has provided no information on where the horses she's "rescuing" are coming from, what donations would be used for, how many "rescue" horses she has, how many have been adopted out, or how the adoption process works. I've found exactly one ad posted by her, for a 19 year old mare being sold for $900. Kristina mentions she's a rescue, and that the mare has recovered from various ailments. She does not mention any kind of adoption application or contract. Later, Kristina re-posted this mare for $600. Kristina also offered to trade "a horse" for a bumper-pull trailer, I assume it's this one since she hasn't listed any other equine for sale/adoption.

In summary, allow me to parody what I believe Kristina is telling us:

Seriously, people. DO support horse rescues. Just don't jump on the bandwagon when some dingbat comes up with a brand-new shady "rescue" chock-full of blatant red flags. Instead, take your enthusiasm, your donations, and your volunteer time, and support one of the great, reputable horse rescues that already exist! There's a list of them here. Many have proven track records of success. They actually DO have 501c3s, and are state inspected. They can actually show you before-and-after pics of rehabbed horses, pictures and descriptions of horses that are available, and pictures of adopted horses in their new homes. They have an adoption contract, or at the very least, an obvious adoption process. 

P.S. I just discovered this last night: There appears to be another Second Chance ranch "horse rescue" that just popped up here in Wisconsin, this time in Eau Claire. Same person? Different? Their facebook page also copies pictures directly from Ryan's Rescue Pen, but they list their website as L and H Quarter Horses. What's up with shady new rescues and Ryan's Rescue Pen?! Is this some kind of twisted franchise deal??

*Note: there used to be a fairly legit non-profit Second Chance Ranch in Blue Mounds, WI, run by Jennifer Pulvermacher, but she closed her rescue in 2013. This is backed up by an IRS document which states that Pulvermacher's non-profit status was revoked in 2013.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Midwest Horse Fair 2015 Part 2

Welcome to MORE HORSE FAIR coverage.
Time for some North Horse Awards! Like in Whose Line is it Anyway, the categories are made up and the points don't matter, but we have fun anyway.

Tackiest Tack!

It's like the Easter Bunny came and threw up plastic Easter "grass" on this breast collar.
Metallic pale green fringe, pink crystals, and pink, green, white, and burgundy beadwork. Ughhh.

Runner Up for Tackiest Tack

This is what happens when girls take too long to grow out of the pink and purple princess stage.

Honorable Mentions for Tackiest Tack

I have never seen a blue snake with a zig-zag pattern, but if one existed, I don't think he would appreciate being covered in asymmetrical gold and crystal plastic. The pink one is a little better, but boy am I getting sick of seeing chunky, blingy crosses on everything. Jesus was kind of a humble guy, not so much about gaudy displays that shout, "HEY GUYS LOOK HOW RELIGIOUS I AM!"

This set was priced at $40 at the 4H tack sale.

Confession: I kind of like this one. If I had seen this when I was 15, I would have wanted it.

Speaking of the 4H tack sale, did anyone else come out of there with PTSD? That disorganized, elbow-slinging, overcrowded madhouse was louder than a dance club but without the benefit of alcohol. It was like a "Where's Waldo" puzzle, except smelling of body odor and leather. Seriously, with all those big new buildings, we couldn't hold the sale somewhere else? Like, somewhere where trying to look at a bridle doesn't mean having to become physically intimate with three people and a wooden rack?

That spot of bare floor is an illusion-- it's actually just the compacted bodies of the fallen, stamped smooth by the crowd.

Most Colorfully Dressed Non-Costumed Fair Attendee

Every year I pick someone wild, but this year I'm giving it to the rather plain leprechaun cowboy. Why? Because I'm pretty sure he was here last year, dressed the same way. That hat is very unmistakable. Is his name Patrick Irishman? Does he just really like green? Maybe those are his saddle club's colors? WHO ARE YOU, GREEN MAN?

DQ'd because this is a costume, but honorable mention goes to this rodeo queen, who must go through a lot of makeup remover every week. If you stare at her hat/head too long, it looks unreal.

Worst Marketing

Let's say you spent $400 to put your stud on Stallion Avenue, and you made a display to further advertise his awesomeness. Which kind of picture would you choose to make the BIGGEST in the display?

A) Stallion participating in a show or competition
B) Stallion posing in front of a professional background
C) Stallion with good ground manners being gentle in a family setting
D) Stallion about to bite the face off of another horse

If you chose D, you took the same marketing course as this owner!
Do you think they offer pasture breeding?

The stallion is Stone Blue, a Tennesse Walker from Rock City, IL. He was more gentle in person.

Coolest Non-Famous People

Obviously there are lots of really cool people at the Fair, like Julie Goodnight and The One Armed Bandit. But I prefer my heroes unsung, so here are two gals living in obscurity that you should know about:

Stacy here is part of a Wisconsin group sort of like the A Team, but not-for-profit. The Blue Hills Mounted Search and Rescue volunteers spend hundreds of hours training to rescue humans they've never met, for no pay. They work closely with law enforcement, and specialize in methodically searching for evidence and people over rough terrain that ATVs can't navigate. Last August, they found an older woman who had become lost while backpacking. Each member is certified in CPR and First Aid, and they have training sessions to desensitize their horses to everything from rescue gear to rain slickers. Stacy herself is from Rice Lake. She says that more mounted search and rescue groups are needed in heavily wooded northeastern Wisconsin.

If you decide to start your own Search and Rescue, maybe you too can take a group photo this awesome.

Next up, this is Jenna Carlton, from North Pole. That's North Pole Arkansas, but we'll make her an honorary northerner this weekend if for no other reason than that I try not to offend badass girls with the upper body strength of grizzlies.

Jenna is beating molten metal into submission in the World Championship Blacksmithing horseshoeing competition this weekend. Oh, you didn't know that was a thing? Yeah, it is, it's at Horse Fair every year, but lots of people seem to miss the smallish tents in the parking lot on the side of the Expo Center. Go check it out! Just listen for the hammering noises and look for shooting flames. Be warned: sparks occasionally fly onto audience members, so no wussies allowed.

Last, but certainly not least:

These guys are so awesome, every time they perform all the bald eagles in Wisconsin cry tears of pure freedom. Don't take my word for it, just watch them. And stay tuned for Part 3 of my Midwest Horse Fair coverage!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Midwest Horse Fair 2015 Part 1

Ah, Midwest Horse Fair. Fun, sun, shopping and horses of course! After the first day, my brain is already fried. Consequently, Part 1 here is lots of lovely pics and fairly little blabbing. Don't worry, I'll fill you in on some of the presentations later. Now then, let's get started.

Two people in an RV in the camping area of the Fair were taken to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning traced to their own leaky generator. Super kudos to the person who figured out that "horse hasn't been fed by 10am" = "maybe something's wrong." They may have saved the lives of the owners. News link here. (Update: the victims were Mr. & Mrs. Taylor of Taylor-Made Paints from Junction City, WI. Please send good thoughts to them, as they are in serious condition.)

Steampunk Freisians! The riders of the Friesian Heritage Horse & Sporthorse International Group all went as gorgeous fairies last year. This year, they absolutely rocked the sci-fi/Victorian look. If you aren't quite sure what the whole steampunk thing is, just imagine if the world of the 1800s was run by crazy scientists/adventurers like Captain Nemo, with lots of steam-powered gadgetry.

Some more Friesians, these less steampunky:

Update: this guy is Mystic Warrior, a Friesian Appaloosa cross. Thanks Christy!

Sooo beautiful! Thanks for giving us a great show, Friesian Heritage. Your horses are amazing.

Unfortunately, now it's time to move on to something a bit ugly.

While I was watching riders in front of the coliseum, an Appaloosa stallion was led onto the wood chip lane by a woman wearing a Wisconsin Appaloosa Horse Club jacket. She constantly yanked on the horse's nose chain, despite the fact that he was pretty darn well-behaved. This wasn't a couple of corrections, this was harassment. If the stallion so much as looked up at another horse coming down the lane, she quickly jerked down on his face. Moved slightly? Yank! Batted an eyelash? Yank! Stood fucking still? Yank! Now, the funny thing about someone constantly jerking a chain wrapped around your nose is that it tends to make you more agitated, and throw your head more, not less. And so it was with this stallion, whose name, by the way, is Totally Included, barn name Kenny. Kenny got a little jumpy. Not rearing, not kicking, not trying to run, just agitated. His handler's response? Start beating him in the chest and neck with the rope in her left hand. I could hear it snap and smack him hard from thirty feet away. By the time I got closer and got my camera switched to video mode, the worst of it was over. Kenny was breathing hard but being good. I started filming anyway, and sure enough, Kenny's bitch of a handler started hitting him again. Towards the end of the video, a woman in a white T-shirt approached and told chain-yanker-bitch I was filming, and to maybe tone it down a bit. 

At the end of the video, you can just barely hear one of the girls talking about my filming them, saying, "That's just because some people are ignorant... they don't know [inaudible] handle a thousand pound animal."

Actually, hon, yes I do know how to handle a horse, and it doesn't involve continuing to punish him when he is already standing still. That's the opposite of how to teach a horse to behave. And yes, some of you readers out there are crying, "Oh, but it's a stallion, that means he's so viscous and powerful, you have to treat stallions like that!" NO. No you don't. For proof, just visit the Horse Fair-- there are a couple dozen stallions walking around without a fuss, and without their handlers constantly yanking on their faces and hitting them.

The poor horse, Totally Included, AKA Kenny, is owned by Daryl and Tina Mahloch of New Horizon Farm in Brillion, WI. I don't know if Tina was the one handling him today or not. (Update: more than one person has said that it WAS Tina herself.)

OK, enough ugliness for a while. Let's look at some pretty, well-behaved, and well-treated (at least as long as I was watching) stallions that were also on the woodchip path: 

OK, a few more quick photos! Again, this is by no means everything from Friday 17th, much less Horse Fair 2015, so stay tuned for Part 2 (and 3? and 4?).

A good rider! The horse was a jumpy, but she got him calm without getting in his mouth, and did it one handed!
Update: this guy's a stallion as well! The rider is Kricket J.

The new buildings are so big, at one point I went into the same one twice without realizing it.

So huge! Pics from the Kids Korral coming soon, it was cute.

Horses are born with indents in their teeth, called "cups." The teeth wear down as a horse ages, erasing the cups.

Blingy dog collars: $80-$140.

So. Many. Strollers. Love the little kid eating her pony though. 

They scoot forward when you bounce, and really steer. They don't back up though. The big ones are over $200.

If you haven't been to the Medieval Times dinner show, go! It's a bit cheesy, but's it's very worth going once.
Drooling over this Bighorn endurance saddle, but it's out of my budget. Also not sure about the seat. 

Just want to say "thank you" to all the riders who were friendly, patient ambassadors for the horse world.

Madison Mounted Police! Love these guys.

More coming later-- stay tuned to Northhorse.org!