University of Guelph Equine Industry Symposium

Three photos of horses.

Taking the Reins! Exciting Equine Opportunities.

The University of Guelph’s Equine Industry Symposium Set to Return November 22-24, 2021

By Mallory Friesen, Equine Management student

Now more than ever the equine community is bursting with new opportunities. Join the University of Guelph, in partnership with Equine Guelph, Ontario  Equestrian, and Equestrian Canada as these opportunities are discussed during the 6th annual Equine Industry Symposium. Sessions will be held virtually on the evenings of November 22-24, 2021, from 7 - 8:30 pm EST. Register for free here, to receive the zoom links.

Opening night, Monday November 22, will discuss the themes of public trust and social license to operate. Guest speakers include Julie Fiedler, a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, Australia, studying social license in the equine industry, Sabrina Breifer from the Swiss National Stud discussing equine husbandry practices in Switzerland and Jody Hartstone a dressage rider from New Zealand, looking at social license from the lens of international competition. From Alberta, Jackie Wepruk will be highlighting comparisons between the social license to operate for equestrians and those involved in dog sledding. Jessica Buckley, Director of Racing of Woodbine Racetrack, will be discussing social license in horse racing.  

The second night, Tuesday, November 23, will revolve around inclusivity in the equine community. This night will be moderated by Akaash Maharaj, introducing the demographics of Canada and the equine industry. Maharaj is a triple gold medalist at the International Championship of Equestrian Skill-at-Arms, and current Ambassador-at-Large for the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption. Lorna Cameron and Linda Greening, Senior Lecturers at Hartpury University in the UK, will deliberate about Hartpury’s outreach program focusing on the inclusivity of underrepresented student groups in Equine Higher Education. Simone Williams, an award-winning trainer, rider, and past assistant coach of Canada’s Paralympic Dressage team, will be discussing inclusivity for para riders. The opportunity for breakout room discussions will focus on barriers and potential solutions to increasing accessibility to horses and equestrian pursuits.  

Wednesday, November 24, will delve into the topic of career opportunities, moderated by Christine Ruepke, current director of Equestrian Breed and Sport at The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. Natalie Keller Reinert will speak about her experiences as an equestrian fiction author. Kathryn Lefrancois, a University of Guelph Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management graduate, will present her career in sports therapy at Vétérinaire Ambulatoire EquiVet Inc. Nina Ekholm Fry will discuss careers in Equine Assisted Services and being an educator for EAS professionals, and from Equestrian Canada and Ontario Equestrian, Lindsay Nakonechny and Brandon Hall will discuss wide career opportunities. 

This symposium is organized and hosted by the students in the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management, Equine Management degree program at the University of Guelph. We are pleased to partner with Durham radio as our official media sponsor. Listen to KX94.7fm for updates on the symposium. Attendees will also have the opportunity to vote for their favourite charities with the top choices receiving a donation from the Equine Industry Symposium on behalf of the presenters. 

To learn more about the 2021 Equine Industry Symposium, follow @equinesymposium on Instagram and Facebook or contact

2020 Recap

COVID-19 has proved to be challenging for everyone. People in the equine industry have faced significant hardship, isolation and financial impacts. These unforeseen circumstances provided an opportunity for horse enthusiasts to come together and discuss how to best support each other during these unprecedented times. The 5th annual Equine Industry Symposium, organized by students in the Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management Equine Management major at the University of Guelph, and hosted in partnership Ontario Equestrian and Equestrian Canada, focused on specific topics within the Symposium’s theme of “Resilience: Rethinking, Restructuring, Re-evaluating due to COVID-19” from November 16-20, 2020. As with many gatherings this year, the Equine Industry Symposium was held for the first time virtually, allowing almost 300 participants to attend from eight different countries. Read the full recap on the 2020 symposium here.

2019 Recap

The opening remarks at the 4th annual Equine Industry Symposium held at University of Guelph challenged attendees to consider if they are masters of change. Akaash Maharaj, facilitator of the Nov 17th event, told the audience that if they want to become masters of change the industry must create incentives and show those in the horse industry and those at a large what change they want to see and how they want that change to happen. Read the full recap on the 2019 symposium here. 

A full recap of the Symposium is also available on the Horse Portal site

2018 Recap

The 2018 Equine Industry Symposium was held on Saturday, October 27th in Thornbrough Hall at the University of Guelph from 8:30am until 4:30pm. Horse enthusiasts from a variety of sectorparticipated 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% 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:

  1. Create standardized job descriptions for employees at horse facilities across all sectors
  2. Collaborate and consolidate horse organizations and associations – pool strength for a unified voice
  3. Identify champions to lead the future vision of our industry
  4. Identify exemplary employers as role models
  5. Identify funding opportunities
  6. 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 the horse portal (Equine IndustrySymposium under the Conferences tab) with industry input and involvement in bringing these action items to fruition. 

Past Symposia

View recap information on the 2016 EIS and Winter 2018 EIS events.


For information on future symposiums, please contact