Animal Cruelty Charges Halt Sleigh Ride Tradition

Sleigh rides following the holiday winter formal is one of Northwood School’s long-standing traditions. For almost a decade, the school had hired XTC Ranch for the anticipated activity. However, this custom has been ended this year due to ranch owner, Travis Devalinger, being brought up on criminal charges of animal cruelty under the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law.

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State Police vehicles at XTC Ranch (Photo: Adirondack Daily Enterprise)

As reported by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on December 8, 2017, the NY state police seized eight horses from XTC Ranch in Lake Clear, responding to multiple complaints about the conditions of horses at the ranch. The examination of 23 horses on property by local veterinarians exposed several horses in need of farrier care due to overgrown hooves. “The Henneke scale rates body condition from 1 to 10. On the scale, 1 means that the bones in the neck, ribs, hips, spine and tail area protrude; a 3 means the ribs and hips are easily discernible. Veterinarians consider 4 to 7 acceptable. A 10 means the horse is severely overweight,” the article explained. The physical condition of the eight seized horses was 3 and under.

Students were upset to learn that they would not be able to enjoy one of their favorite wintertime activities. “I was really disappointed. I was looking forward to the sleigh ride especially since I didn’t get to do it last year,” commented Courtney Fairchild ’20.

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Students report missing sleigh rides this year. (Photo: Adirondack Sleigh Rides)

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