The American Horse Council's 2015 Annual Meeting and National Issues Forum, sponsored by Luitpold Animal Health, is only two weeks away. This year the Forum will focus on "Promoting and Protecting the Horse," and will feature speakers and panels from across the industry. The topic will be addressed by representatives from both Federal agencies and various sectors of the horse industry, each discussing what they are currently working on in these areas.
Gary Woodward, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, will kick off the program Tuesday morning. His agency, APHIS, may have the most day-to-day federal interaction with the horse industry of any department of the federal government. He will be joined by USDA staff from APHIS and other departments to explain USDA's relationship with the horse community and its efforts to protect the health of horses and support the continued viability of the industry. USDA leaders and staff will be present to review the Department's goals, program direction, allocation of resources and opportunities for the horse industry.
The Unwanted Horse Coalition, which operates under the umbrella of the AHC, is celebrating its 10th anniversary and will provide an update on its initiatives and those of its members over the last decade to protect unwanted horses, its current activities and future plans.
Attendees will also be provided an update on several new and unique efforts to promote horses to the public with a presentation entitled "Promoting the Equine Experience."
This panel will include an update by Patti Colbert of PCE Enterprises on "Time to Ride," the initiative of the American Horse Council's Marketing Alliance. The Time to Ride Challenge returns in 2015 as a grassroots campaign for the horse community to grow the horse industry while competing for $100,000 in cash and prizes.
Ross Peddicord of the Maryland Horse Industry Board will also provide an overview of Maryland's institution of a statewide network of Horse Discovery Centers as part of the Board's effort to raise the level of public awareness of Maryland's equestrian traditions and equine activities. These recently licensed Horse Discovery Centers welcome people of all ages and experience into their barns to learn about horses in a friendly and knowledgeable environment.
Also on this panel will be Anne Sabatino Hardy of Horse Country, Inc., a new nonprofit organization that was formed to promote and arrange tours of Kentucky farms, equine clinics and local Kentucky attractions. Horse Country hopes to capitalize on its unique location in the "Horse Capital" of the world to promote the story of the horse--from birth to racing and back to breeding--to the public in order to attract more fans to racing and the horse.
The Forum will also focus on organizations and individuals intent on keeping kids involved in equestrian activities during their years in college when many seemingly fall out of the industry. Without these organizations and programs, the industry could lose more participants.
"Going to College" will be a panel that includes Meghan Boenig, equestrian coach at the University of Georgia, representing the National Collegiate Equestrian Association; Patte Zumbrun, Equestrian Director at Goucher College, representing the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association; and Cindy Schonholtz, Director of Industry Outreach for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. All of these organizations promote riding and equestrian sports at colleges, either independently or with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Each will explain their programs and the problems they sometimes face in promoting horse sports to college kids.
The AHC's convention will also include the AHC's Congressional Reception, the Congressional Ride-In, and meetings of all AHC committees and the Unwanted Horse Coalition. As always, the AHC's annual meeting brings together the horse industry's leaders, stakeholders, service providers and rank-and-file to discuss common issues of importance.
AHC's Congressional Reception will be Tuesday night, June 16, on Capitol Hill. This is an opportunity for the horse community to visit informally with Members of Congress to renew old friendships, make new ones, and discuss industry concerns.
The annual Congressional Ride-In will take place all day Wednesday, June 17. The Ride-In allows members of the horse community to meet with their elected representatives and federal officials to discuss important issues affecting them. All members of the horse community are encouraged to participate, even if they don't attend the AHC convention. The Ride-In literally illustrates the goal of the AHC to "Put More Horsepower in Congress."
Complete information on these Forums and the entire AHC annual meeting, including registration and hotel information, can be found on the AHC's website, http://horsecouncil.org/events.php or by contacting the AHC.