The Sound Horse Conference was a three-day event beginning with three afternoon roundtable discussions geared specifically for your role in a horses life (trainer, owner, etc.) I was not able to attend this part of the Conference due to my schedule (flights cancelled, delayed…) but I heard all good things about it and plan on being able to make it next time. The following two days consisted of different individuals speaking on behalf of the TWH and horses in general. There were so many people there to teach and express positive ideas and methods. I enjoyed being able to see the slides of x-rays and studies done on padded vs. flatshod vs. barefoot horses and seeing how bone structure and joints through the whole body can drastically shift and change depending on how we care for the feet. I also like hearing about TWH’s that have found success in disciplines often thought to be specific to other breeds such as endurance racing. It was also commendable for an individual there to discuss how he used to be involved in soring as a way of life but has since realized that is not the way to go and is grateful that he has now seen the light. There was such a vast amount of topics covered, ones that I would never have thought of, all of which had wonderful speakers. A complete list and more details of topics and those who spoke can be found at www.fosh.info. I encourage everyone to take a look at what was offered and make plans to attend the next Conference.
I have been in the horse industry for 20+ years attending all types of clinics/expos/demos and this was the first time I left feeling like I had learned from every speaker. I can definitely say I learned more here in two days than in all the other expos combined over my lifetime. The wealth of information being presented surpassed my ability to take notes, so I decided to wait and purchase the video when it became available. I wanted to be able to reference the images presented with each speaker, as I felt they were extremely valuable in helping to illustrate the information provided.
We were provided with lunch each day and on the second evening, we traveled to a barn where we were able to watch fun demonstrations from a selected group of horses all representing different specialties. We were able to eat our dinner in a warm setting while watching these demos through glass panels or we could sit in the arena with the demonstrators. Each day we were given raffle tickets for a chance to win many different prizes. On the second day, they gave two awards to individuals who have made a difference in the sound horse industry. I was the recipient of one of these awards. I came up to the stage and we listened to a story about my life with Blue while Chris’ video of Blue and I riding at WEG was shown in the background. My award was then presented to me by Christine Sequenzia of the Animal Welfare Institute. It was such an honor to be invited to attend and to be the recipient of such a wonderful award. It’s very encouraging to know that hard work and natural care and training methods are being recognized and it gives me great faith in the TWH breed to know that there has been so much recent progress for their welfare.
I want to reassure those who were not able to attend that this is not a group of fanatics or “over-the-top” activists. Those involved simply believe in the best possible care and health of the horses. This was evident in the teachings of everyone. It was quite unique that although everyone there may have had different opinions or methods, all put the horse before themselves and seemed to realize that not ALL horses are the same, so the same thing doesn’t always benefit ALL horses. Any individual who owns a TWH should be in attendance, as well as those who care about the general welfare of all breeds. This was an invaluable experience for me and I thank everyone who worked so hard to make this come together.