Meet the People behind the Summit

The Best Horse Practices Summit is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization run by an executive director and many volunteers. It is served by a small, talented Board of Directors and steering committee.

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Board of Directors:

Board president and Summit executive director, Maddy Butcher

Board President & Executive Director: Maddy Butcher, Colorado. Maddy runs Cayuse Communications, a family of horse- and outdoor-oriented websites. She’s a former free-lancer for the Boston Globe and Wall St. Journal with a passion for learning and sharing knowledge with others for the betterment of horse lives. Butcher is the author of A Rider’s Reader: Exploring Sense, Science & Sentiment.

Board member Debbie Hight

Board Member: Debbie Hight, avid horsewoman from Maine. Hight is also chair of the Maine Grain Alliance board of directors and has excellent organizational talents, great brainstorming, and networking abilities. She rides English and Western with her mare, Roxy. Read one of her guest columns here.

Board Member & Trade Show Manager: Dr. Raechel Nelson, rancher and horse owner from northern Colorado. She is a dentist at Colorado State University, a job that gives her more time off during the busy ranching season. An avid horse trainer and regular guest columnist for BestHorsePractices (see Mustang Miles & Minutes). Nelson brings smarts, energy, and resourcefulness to the committee.

Board member and popular Summit presenter, Dr. Sheryl King

Board Member: Dr. Sheryl King, Illinois.  She’s the past president of the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois and a professor emeritus, former Equine Science Program Director at Southern Illinois University. Dr. King was elected a Fellow of the Equine Science Society in 2009, an Associate in the Fifty Year Horse Society, an SIU Outstanding Scholar and Faculty Service Award recipient.  She has authored many scientific research publications as well as general horse articles and has spoken on horse management topics on five continents. She is a 2017 and 2018 Best Horse Practices Summit presenter.

Multi-disciplined board member, Cindy Morin

Board Member & Business Manager: Cindy Morin, Colorado. Growing up in New York City doesn’t seem like the place to be around horses, but for Morin it sure was. She learned to ride all kinds of horses and developed skills for rehabilitating horses and contracting with private owners to “fix” their horses. She was high point rider for the University of Kentucky and has associates degrees in Animal Science and Business. She has worked an impressive array of equine jobs, from starting racing thoroughbreds to working on a Wyoming ranch. She brings a wealth of business acumen and managerial skills to the Summit.

Board member TJ Zark

Board Member & Brand Specialist: TJ Zark, Colorado. Zark owns Hello Zark, a successful brand and design company. But before stints in Silicon Valley, there were years on a Nebraska ranch, working with horses and cattle. She writes:

Why do I support the Summit? 

I believe horsemanship is a beautiful and endlessly unfolding discipline. I believe knowledge comes from many sources and sometimes from unlikely people and places. There is wisdom found in folklore and science. The Best Horse Practices Summit will advance our dialogue on what works for horses and their humans from an expansive knowledge base.

Steering Committee:

Jim Thomas, North Carolina. Jim runs Bar T Horsemanship, is a 2017 BHPS presenter, a TIP trainer for the BLM Wild Horse and Burro program, and travels widely for clinics. As a long-time military recruiter, he has a great ability to connect with people and has lots of ideas for making this event click. He sits on the executive board for the North Carolina Horse Council.

Steering Committee member and Summit presenter, Dr. Steve Peters

Emily Thomas Luciano, Florida. Emily (Jim Thomas’ daughter) is also a talented horsewoman. She runs Lucky Dee Communications and brings a great marketing mind to our equation.

Dr. Steve Peters, Utah. Steve is director of the Center for Brain Health at Intermountain Healthcare Systems and the co-author with Martin Black of Evidence-Based Horsemanship. He’s a skilled presenter and brings a wealth of who’s-who in-horse-world knowledge to the table. He collaborates with Maddy Butcher on HorseHead.

Fred Holcomb, Washington. Fred graduated from Davidson College with honors and was

Steering Committee member Fred Holcomb addresses 2017 Summit attendees

nice enough to share his research project on Dwell Time with BestHorsePractices. Since graduation, he has gone to farrier school, interned with an equine veterinarian and horse trainer and is applying to veterinary school. Read his latest BestHorsePractices essay here. 

Robyn Schiller, California. She’s the brains behind Warwick Schiller Performance Horsemanship and a former Human Resources director. An accomplished rider and a quiet, effective, and welcome addition to our team.

Dennis Nelson, Colorado. Nelson has a shrewd eye for business strategy and marketing decisions with an MBA from Brigham Young University. He is a horse enthusiast through his marriage to Raechel Nelson.

Amy Skinner, North Carolina. Skinner is a regular guest columnist and has been a horse gal since age six. She currently lives in North Carolina where she starts colts, and rides and teaches dressage and Western. Skinner has studied at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Spain, with Buck Brannaman, Leslie Desmond, Brent Graef, and many others. We’re excited for her Summit presentation with Katrin Silva this October

Steering committee members Julie Kenney and Amy Skinner

Julie Kenney, Maine. Kenney may be the most enthusiastic and hard-working gal you’ll see at the Summit. In our inaugural year, she helped spearhead a successful trade show. Her feedback on presentations and Summit decisions has been practical and valuable. Kenney writes: I’ve been a life-long horse enthusiast, so after a time of horse training and giving lessons, I’m happily in my “retirement” years of receiving continuing education in horses, caring for my retired lesson horses, and riding for my own pleasure. I continue being a student of the horse, in all ways great and small.

Dr. Petra Sullwold, Colorado. Sullwold is a human and animal chiropractor with a successful practice in southwestern Colorado. She’s also the owner of several mustangs. The veteran rider, originally from Austria, will introduce Dr. Gerd Heuschmann to Summit attendees.

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