Equine Industry Symposium 2020 Goes Virtual!


Agents of Change Host 5th Annual Event

Since its inception in 2016, the Equine Industry Symposium hosts and participants have set out to be agents of change. As the organizers, preparing for the 5th annual event this November, the students of the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management degree program in Equine Management are embodying change. Amidst a pandemic that has thrown all sorts of curve balls to every industry, including the equine industry, the event will switch to a new virtual format. Nov. 16 – 20, 2020, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm EST each evening, the focus of this years’ event will be on the pandemic and how it has impacted the equine industry. The theme: Resilience: Rethinking, Restructuring, Re-evaluating due to COVID-19.

The free event, held each year at the University of Guelph, has attracted a growing number of industry professionals that are interested in “being the change” the horse industry needs. The Equine Industry Symposium is for everyone with an interest in horses. It was born from a desire to have the industry working together in unity, despite division between disciplines/sectors. Participants and world renowned guest speakers all come together because they care about horse welfare and a healthy, prosperous industry.

Everyone involved in the horse industry, be it as an owner, competitor, facility manager, discipline specialist, trainer, coach, official, business owner, recreational rider, or any of a myriad of other roles, face both daily and long-term challenges in sustaining their particular equine pursuits. The welfare and wellbeing of the horse and the long-term health and growth of the industry in all sectors are topics of importance for all equine professionals.

In 2016, a group of 40 professionals gathered for this invitation-only event to explore Challenges being experienced as a whole for the industry. Round table discussions focused on hot topics including marketing and outreach, attracting the next generation of youth to horse sport and keeping them engaged, industry standards and certifications related to equine service providers, and last but certainly not least – What the industry could do to become more cohesive amongst its many sectors.

In 2017, Youth engagement was the primary focus. The call was sent out to all interested in attending. The discussions on how to move the industry forward acknowledged the importance of engaging youth to grow the grass roots of the industry. Parents must be educated about opportunities for youth. If equine activities are not more accessible, what does the future of equestrian sport look like? The youth are the next generation of equine professionals and without them, there will be no future industry. 

The 2018 symposium themed, Professionalism and standards, built on the topics brought forward in the first two events. Returning for a 3rd year as facilitator, Akaash Maharaj, former Chief Executive Officer of Equine Canada, drew everyone’s attention to the economic impact of the Canadian equine industry. 

The well rounded guest speaker line up included:

  • Dr Kendra Coulter, Professor of Labour Studies at Brock University
  • Catherine Geci, Business Development Manager at the University of Ottawa
  • Diane Creech, elite dressage rider
  • Len Kahn, Kahntact Marketing
  • Cally Merritt and Rory Dimitrioff, Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians

Discussions ranged from: building partnerships to identifying gaps in the industry; athlete and coach development to fragmentation of the sport; comparing coaching certification in Germany to that of Canada, a country where certification of equestrian coaches is not yet mandatory. Improper classification of many stable workers as independent contractors and other challenges equine workers face were brought forward by Dr. Coulter revealing findings from one of her studies. A unified voice for the horse industry and the need to pull together for the future of the industry was a topic agreed upon by all in attendance.

In 2019, Change was the theme announced. Facilitator, Akaash Maharaj set the tone by challenging attendees to consider if they are masters of change or slaves to change and a lively panel discussion closed out a symposium of amazing international speakers:

  • Zooarchaeologist, Dr. Sandra Olsen, took everyone on a journey through time expounding on the use of horses during ancient times and how we domesticated and evolved with them and the development of the horse-human relationship.
  • Lisa Ashton, a clinician from the United Kingdom, presented an evidence-based approach to riding and training. She advocates for horse owners to “be the change your horse needs”, look to science-based research to ‘know better and do better.’
  • Debbie Busby, a BHS certified Stage 4 coach and registered Clinical Animal Behaviourist, shared her thoughts on human behaviour change for animals.

2020 Equine Industry Symposium promises another fantastic line up so be sure to sign up for the virtual event – Resilience: Rethinking, Restructuring, Re-evaluating due to COVID-19
Expert guest speakers from both Canada and the UK include: Kristy House, Equestrian Canada, Stewart Everett, UK Equine Register, and Nic de Brauwere, Redwings Horse Rescue and Sanctuary. 

Join in every evening from Nov. 16 – 20, 2020, from 7:00pm to 8:30pm EST by REGISTERING TODAY!