Don't Trust, Verify with Certified Background Checks Horses at Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines enjoy their leisure time despite the theft of $45,000 be an employee. photo © Darryl Moran

Don’t Trust, Verify Like a Boss

originally published May 13, 2015

Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines

A successful criminal knows exactly what you want to hear.

That’s why Horse Authority provides access to accredited criminal background checks to help you identify those whose charisma may outweigh their ethical standards.

So, now you can now verify and hire like a boss – because if you don’t protect your horses, who will?

The FBI reports employee theft is the fastest growing crime in America. Criminal background checks offer an additional level of due diligence not attainable during interviews or reference checks. Save yourself time, money, and potential heartache.

Employee theft of horse funds

Ryerss Farm for Aged Equines knows the sting of losing more than $45,000 after a bad hire.

President Samuel Griffin says, “people assume others are nice or good, but that’s not always the case. You have to check up on them.”

Sarah Barnshaw was a convicted criminal hired by a non-profit without background check.
Sarah Barnshaw

The Pennsylvania non-profit hired a twenty-something to do office work in 2010.

Sarah Barnshaw was confident, charming, creative — and a convicted criminal. She worked as the organization’s sole controller until her firing in February 2012. The long-term home for horses terminated Barnshaw after her work declined, Griffin tells us.

Many in the equine industry choose to ignore that key step of screening individuals with background checks. Although, it would have likely uncovered that Barnshaw had convictions dating back to 2004.

“She is a dubious criminal, but you would have never known,” Griffin says. “You have to scratch a little deeper and that is where the problem lies.”

Chester County authorities charged Barnshaw in early 2014 with five felonies for the theft of the horse funds. After she failed to appear for trial in 2015, an arrest warrant was issued resulting in her November 2015 arrest.

Barnshaw pleaded guilty to felony theft by unlawful taking in 2017. She is out on probation after serving time behind bars.

“It is something we take seriously,” Griffin says. “We got burned and we learned.” He confirms background checks are now a part of the horse sanctuary’s hiring process.

A 2017 study found 96% of mainstream employers in the U.S. conduct at least one type of background screening.

Albeit, just like people, not all background checks are created equal. Online offers for free, instant results mean you’re dealing with less reliable data. 

Instead, use the equine industry’s exclusive source for background checks provided by the same firm utilized by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

This comprehensive screening tool is kind of like insurance although it helps you before things go awry. It provides social security verification, an address trace, a hands-on local criminal record search, a national search across all 50 states, and sex offender registry search – all for only $35.

That’s less than a bottle of fly spray, but the value is far greater because it affords you peace of mind.

For a few more bucks, add a motor vehicle record check (MVR)  to ensure your candidate has a driver’s license to confirm a person’s identity. It offers a second identification method.


Find out more about:

› the pre-employment vetting of candidates for horse-related jobs,

› screening potential horse adopters while generating donations for your horse rescue,

› the due diligence of horse-related volunteers when young equestrians or money are involved,

› and vetting of horse associations’ “professional horsemen” or “certified” horseback riding instructors, etc.