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Report Reconfirms Healthy Danada Equestrian Center Herd

DuPage Forest News
June 14, 2013

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County announced today that a recent four-month-long review of its Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton has reconfirmed that the center continues to provide quality care for its 25 horses.

View a copy of the Danada Equestrian Center (DEC) Review final report here.

In response to concerns voiced by Danada Equestrian Center volunteers in 2012, the Forest Preserve District conducted two investigations into the health of the center’s horses. Both concluded the animals were in good health, but volunteers criticized the objectiveness of the assessments, which were conducted by the District’s veterinarian and by an equine expert with ties to the District.

“At some point, I realized that a third, impartial examination was the only way to put this issue to rest,” said Shannon Burns, the Forest Preserve District commissioner who started the latest review four weeks after her December 2012 inauguration.

Burns engaged the help of an expert from the Hooved Animal Humane Society and of an equine veterinarian recommended by the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Neither individual had previous connections with the equestrian center, the Forest Preserve District or the DuPage County equine community. Both received the medical history of each horse and a summary of volunteers’ concerns, which Burns had compiled during one-on-one interviews.

“The actual physical exams of the horses were so secretive that even President Pierotti didn’t know about them until 15 minutes before they started,” said Burns.

But Forest Preserve District President D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr. was supportive of Burns’ methods.

“I’m grateful for Commissioner Burns’ efforts to make her review as thorough and balanced as possible, not only as president of this board but also as a resident of DuPage County,” Pierotti stated. “I look forward to her future recommendations, too, that will help the District to clarify the center’s mission, improve communication between staff and volunteers, and adjust programs to meet the growing needs of the community.”

One of the volunteers’ concerns related to the quality of the hay the center feeds its horses. Both inspectors did notice sticks in the bales and feeders, but they agreed the hay was nutritionally sound.

According to the Danada Equestrian Center’s site manager, Trish Spiroff, the weather in 2012 affected supplies of hay region wide.

“Due to the nationwide drought, it was difficult to find hay anywhere,” explained Spiroff, who added that the District is making arrangements with vendors to ensure the future quality of its hay.

Click here to listen to Commissioner Shannon Burns discuss the report with WDCB 90.9 FM News.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County owns and manages 25,000 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands. Each year more than 4 million visitors enjoy 60 forest preserves, 145 miles of trails, five education centers and scores of programs. To get District e-news in your inbox, sign up at dupageforest.org/e-newsletter. For general information, visit dupageforest.org or call 630-933-7200.

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