Colorado Legislation

Legislation passed by voters in Estes Park, Colo., might have an unintended negative impact on area horse competitions. Initiative 200 was placed on the November 1999 ballot in the mountain tourist town by opponents of a proposed wildlife center to be built near the Rocky Mountain National Park. Plans for the wildlife center, which were approved by the Estes Park Town Board, included exhibits of native animals. The plans drew the ire of local animal rights activists, who called the proposed center a glorified roadside zoo. The language of Initiative 200 is very broad, however, and essentially bans all exhibitions of animals. Given its broadest interpretation, Initiative 200 threatens horse shows and other competitions involving animals in the area. The legislation includes several “specific defenses” aimed at excluding exhibitions of domestic animals in the normal course of business by a pet store, dog kennel, farm, ranch, livery stable, or rodeo, but a defense unlike an exception does not preclude prosecution under the law.

Estes Park Town Attorney Gregory White stated that it would be unreasonable for the town to prosecute either an event sponsor or an exhibitor falling under one of Initiative 200’s specific defenses, but the new law has not been tested in court, and its full effects will not be known for some time.

About the Author

Milt Toby, JD

Milt Toby is an author and attorney who has been writing about horses and legal issues affecting the equine industry for more than 40 years. Former Chair of the Kentucky Bar Association's Equine Law Section, Milt has written eight nonfiction books, including national award winners Dancer’s Image and Noor. He teaches Equine Commercial Law in the University of Louisville's Equine Industry Program.

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