Fall 2018 Symposium

The 2018 Equine Industry Symposium was held on Saturday October 27th in Thornbrough Hall at the University of Guelph from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Horse enthusiasts from a variety of sectors participated in engaging discussions on standards and professionalism. All the speakers were well-received by the attendees.

Opening remarks from facilitator Akaash Maharaj focused on the impact of the Canadian equine industry, particularly how it dwarfs the dairy industry. Invited speakers included Catherine Geci, Business Development Manager at the University of Ottawa, who spoke about the importance of professionalism in building connections and lasting partnerships; Dr Kendra Coulter, Professor of Labour Studies at Brock University, reported that 50 per cent of stable workers earn minimum wage or less and almost half of the workers are improperly classified as independent contractors, and are thus are not protected by the Employee Standards Act; Pam Coburn from Ontario Equestrian explained four main gaps in the industry: 1) horsemanship and understanding of horses’ needs, 2) athlete and coach development, 3) competition eligibility, and 4) the fragmentation of the sport; Diane Creech, elite dressage rider, compared coaching certification between Germany and Canada; Len Kahn, Kahntact Marketing, talked about the importance of branding; Cally Merritt, Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians, stressed standards as proof of providing the best services possible, particularly in an industry where certification is not mandatory.

Co-facilitator Tim Nelson summarized six action items that arose from the discussions:

  • Create standardized job descriptions for employees at horse facilities across all sectors
  • Collaborate and consolidate horse organizations and associations – pool strength for a unified voice
  • Identify champions to lead the future vision of our industry
  • Identify exemplary employers as role models
  • Identify funding opportunities
  • With a unified voice, meet with government representatives to raise awareness of the size and scope of the equine industry in Canada (which is larger than the dairy industry).

The discussion is expected to be continued through http://horseportal.com (Equine Industry Symposium under the Conferences tab) with industry input and involvement in bringing these action items to fruition.