34th Annual Alberta Horse Conference Summary

This article is courtesy of the Horse Industry Association of Alberta
Billy_Smith_2016 Horse ConferenceA total of 400 horse enthusiasts left their farms and convened at the 34th annual Alberta Horse Conference in Red Deer for a weekend, in mid-January, filled with fun and education. Delegates came from all over BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Montana. The exhibit hall hosted over 40 booths sponsored by equine businesses and organizations.

Friday night’s “Open Barn” Welcome Reception, hosted by the Horse Industry Association of Alberta, treated delegates and public alike to snacks and drinks while giving them their first look at the trade show. Early bird draw prizes were distributed to the lucky winners and delegates entered for numerous door prizes.

Saturday’s technical sessions began with APHA Executive Director Billy Smith, who spoke about “Promises to Keep – How We Can Reclaim our Horse Heritage in Jeopardy of Irrelevance” sponsored by the Alberta Equestrian Federation. After the Western Horse Review sponsored coffee break, delegates had the choice of attending sessions presented by Dirk Stroda “Mental Coaching in the World of Equestrian Sport”, sponsored by Canadian Horse Journals, and Dr. Joseph Bertone’s completely interactive session “Common Conditions in Horses”.
After the lunch break, Dr. David Ramey spoke about “The Real Cost of Horse Ownership”, sponsored by Alberta Veterinary Laboratories and Dr. Camie Heleski presented results on “The Impact of Aggressive Riding on Competitive Horses”. The afternoon technical sessions came to a close with Dr. Sarah Malone speaking on “Relationships Between Forelimb Asymmetries and Performance” and Dr. David Wilson presented information on “The Laminitis Vaccine”.

The News Hour consisted of the Honorable Oneil Carlier – Alberta Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, who spoke to the importance of the equine industry in agriculture. Gary Millar from the Alberta Stables Association spoke to the changes Bill 6 will have on Alberta’s stables. Les Burwash spoke about the Canadian National Biosecurity Committee’s upcoming initiatives. On behalf of Alberta Farm Animal Care, Heather Matheson-Bird presented information about the upcoming AFAC Livestock Care Conference, the AFAC Lifestock alert line and the 2015 release of the Humane Handling Guidelines for equines. The American Quarter Horse Association Executive Vice President, Craig Huffhines, outlined how AQHA has implemented a five panel test for genetic abnormalities and printing of the results on registration papers. Craig elaborated on how the equine industry as a whole needs to work together to encourage responsible breeding and work towards preventing genetic abnormalities. Lastly, Dr. Sean Archibald presented about seeking equine participants for a lameness research study in 2016.

Saturday evening culminated into a “Casino Style” social event, sponsored by Horse Racing Alberta, featuring a wine and desert reception. Conference delegates were invited to visit the trade show booths, play games for fun money and bid on an array of donated prizes during the end of the night auction.

Sunday morning’s technical sessions began with Dr. Lori Warren giving tools to “Slim Down the Overweight Horse” and Dr. Camie Heleski took to the stage for a second time speaking about “Using Learning Theory in Everyday Equine Life”. After the Horse Publications Group sponsored coffee break, Jim Anderson took the stage sharing his knowledge about “Developing the Versatile Horse” and Dr. Molly McCue presented about “Horse Genome Sequencing”.

The conference wrapped up Sunday afternoon with the Fred Pearce Memorial Lecture Series, dedicated to equine welfare, and sponsored by the Alberta SPCA. This year Dr. Sid Gustafson spoke about “Ethical Veterinary Care of the Competition Horse”.

The Horse Industry Association of Alberta would like to thank everyone who attended and sponsored the 2016 conference as well as all the speakers who brought their expertise and experience to Red Deer, Alberta.

The Alberta Horse Conference is an annual event organized by the Horse Industry Association of Alberta and sponsored by a generous group of equine organizations and businesses. Information about the 2017 conference as well as the 2016 conference image gallery to follow at a later date.