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.

Executive Director, Maddy Butcher: Aside from her duties of running the Summit, Maddy Butcher also maintains Cayuse Communications, a family of horse and outdoors-oriented websites. She occasionally writes op-ed pieces for the Washington Post. She has a passion for learning and sharing knowledge with others for the betterment of horse lives. Butcher is the author of Horse Head: Brain Science & Other Insights and Beasts of Being: Partnerships Unburdened.

Board President Josh McElroy

McElroy grew up in Texas and Oklahoma on ranches and has been training horses for over 25 years. He was also a horsemanship instructor at Central Kentucky Riding for Hope (CKRH) where he helped high school students as well as veterans.

Josh also served for over 13 years in the Army as a Special Operations Medic. He’s excited to help others gain access to the Summit and sees it as a resource for making their interactions with horses more correct and beneficial for the horse. Read what he had to say about 2018 BHPS.

Board Member Sharon Parker

After working in research at the University of Kentucky, Sharon taught at the high school and college levels for 26 years. Upon retirement, she became a CHA certified instructor in English and western riding as well as an Instructor of Riders with Disabilities. She is also certified by PATH International to work with physical and cognitive disabilities as well as trauma resulting from PTSD.

With her husband of nearly 50 years, she operates a small stable with about a dozen horses. Doug Parker also runs a cow-calf operation of about 400 momma cows. The couple has three sons, two are veterinarians, while the third owns a farm supply store. She says that BHPS is the very best horse-related event she has ever attended. “As science has come under fire in the last few years, it is more important than ever to support scientific approaches to horse care and horsemanship. The Best Horse Practices Summit provides an authentic and sound approach surpassed by none,” she said.

Board Member Nicole Churilla Shoup graduated with an Associate’s degree in Horse Science in 2017 from The Ohio State University ATI and followed with a Bachelor’s in Animal Science from Ohio State University, graduating with honors in 2019. She lives in Ohio where she is a horseman and instructor for Windy Hill Farm.

Nicole Churilla

She is passionate about retraining horses and sharing her experiences with other aspiring horse enthusiasts. As an advocate for the horse, she is excited to be involved with the Summit.

Board Member Marika Saarinen is a horse enthusiast and human to two mares. She loves classical dressage, cross country, and trail riding in her Washington state home.
Marika holds a Doctor of Pharmacy and consults for health care companies along with helping her engineer husband run his business.
Her experience in health care helps her have empathy for the horse. She understands that as we learn more, we need to change and rethink horse keeping practices as needed. This is a big reason why she is excited to be part of BHPS.

Board Member Elisabeth Black is a native of Southern California currently living in central Ohio with her husband, horse and golden retriever. She’s a marketing and design specialist as well as registered Yoga instructor. She has a passion for research and learning that is driven by the desire to continuously improve the quality of life for animals and humans alike.

She loves exploring new activities and terrain with her horse Leo, as well as riding hunters and learning dressage. She devotes much of her free time to research on equine health, fitness, neuro- and flow sciences. She loves utilizing her skills to bring awareness to new ways of thinking about and benefitting the horse.

Board Member Ex-Officio Dr. Sheryl King. 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 will present on the keynote address at the 2021 Best Horse Practices Summit.

Marika Saarinen

Board Member Ex-Officio Debbie Hight, an active 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. Hight coordinates Summit volunteers with fellow board member, Julie Kenney. She rides English and Western with her mare, Roxy.

Steering Committee

Kimberly Loveless, a retired career federal employee, owns and operates Gin Lot Farms, LLC with her husband Larry in Virginia.  Kimberly is a life-long horse owner and trainer, who has gentled and trained their six American Mustangs in Classical Dressage.   Kimberly works with Mustang Heritage Foundation and the wild horse program managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Kimberly Loveless

Well versed in many training disciplines, Kimberly has focused her efforts over the last few years on working with challenging horses, incorporating natural horsemanship with positive reinforcement.

Cathi Champion lives in Washington and discovered riding and horse ownership later in life. She notes that, “I wasn’t a horsey girl. I only started riding in my late 50s, so I have to compress all my horse interest into the here and now!”

Having decades of research experience throughout her career, the ownership of her horse is deeply connected to passion for learning everything that can be learned about horses.

Elisabeth Black and Leo

Cathi is excited that the science of the horse has caught on throughout the industry and that BHPS has been at the forefront of the effort to be and do what is right for our horses.

Jeremie Forman is a Utah native where he lives with his wife, five kids, and a pile of horses and hounds. Forman has been riding and working with horses his whole life, starts colts for the public on a small scale, and currently runs a Mounted Patrol for a local Sheriff’s Office. Forman has spent his life and career in pursuit of knowledge and training to become a better horseman and trainer. Forman operates under the philosophy that the learning never ends. Every horse and horseman has something to teach if we will just listen and take the opportunity to find the lesson.

Allana Salmon graduated from Otterbein University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Equine Business Management and Equine Assisted Therapies. She is a traveling horse and human trainer in Central Ohio and has a passion in helping horses and their humans understand each other clearly, and learn how to better communicate and work together. Pictured is Allana and her mare, partner, teacher and student, Toast, who has helped her forge her personal path to find Best Horse Practices.



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