“No Horsing Around at Symposium Time” – article by Owen Roberts

Good afternoon all,

For your interest, an article by Owen Roberts, author of the “Urban Cowboy” column:

In this edition of his Urban Cowboy column, Owen Roberts shows how University of Guelph equine students are rallying the industry

“Emma Lewis started riding horses when she was six…and hasn’t stopped since.

Now 20, she’s a competitive rider, horse owner and barn manager, as well as being enrolled in the equine management track of the University of Guelph’s Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management program, the only offering like it in Canada.

This Saturday, after months of planning, networking and skill development, she and her two dozen classmates will host an event you might normally expect to be staged by professionals – that is, the third annual Equine Industry Symposium. It’s being held this year from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Room 1200 of the Thornbrough Building (next to the University Centre).

The symposium is aimed at horse enthusiasts from all backgrounds. The student organizers set their sights on facilitating a community-wide discussion about prevalent issues in the highly diverse $19-billion equine industry.

Such diversity meant the students had a multitude of topics to choose from. For this day-long event they chose professionalism and standards.

“Professionalism can be a big issue,” says student organizer Bryana Bou-Zaid. She says it’s not unusual for horse owners to struggle to find a suitable place to keep their horse.

Horse-people and horse lovers of all walks of life should care about professionalism and standards in the industry, because equine industry standards directly translate to equine quality of life and welfare,” she says.

The symposium features what the student organizers call “selected educated, inspiring speakers who will communicate their perspective on the topic to facilitate discussion among attendees.”

Among them are equine enthusiast Malcolm Campbell, the University of Guelph’s vice-president of research, agri-food sector marketing guru Len Kahn of Kahntact Marketing, who will lead a session called “Is it possible or necessary to sell this?” and facilitated discussions by former CEO of Equine Canada, Akaash Maharaj.

The students will be listening intently to the presentations, and invite others to join them for this free event, and experience first-hand the passion they bring to the sector.

Says Lewis, who switched into the equine management program after her first year of university: “I love my horse and the bond created, I love my barn family, I love the thrill of cross country jumping, I love the challenge, I love the feeling when I know all my hard work has paid off, I love learning new things about the equine industry at school and work.”

Another student organizer, Jamie Meilach, describes equine as “a sport like no other.” She says it uniquely encourages year round outdoor activity, cooperation and communication with an unspeaking being (i.e. a horse), technical skills inside and out of the competitive arena, and thrill-seeking bravery.

“The community, and bonds formed in the equine world, truly makes being an equestrian into an entire lifestyle,” she says. “All horse-people will tell you, you don’t know what you’re missing unless you’ve tried riding.”

Register now for the symposium at goo.gl/RSUKYG.”