Editor’s Note: The following remarks were delivered by BHPS Director, Maddy Butcher, and Board president, Josh McElroy:
Welcome to the 2022 Best Horse Practices Summit. First off, some housekeeping notes. Please silence your cells.
Please say hello and give thanks to our board members, steering committee members, and volunteers.
Specifically, I want to introduce my incredible board and steering committee. They aren’t just huge contributors during this weekend, but they have helped develop the Summit each month leading up to now. They are (and you guys, please stand)Josh McElroy, Sharon Parker, Dr. Sheree King, Nicole Churilla, Debbie Hight, Elisabeth Black Jeremie Forman Marika Saarinen, Allana Salmon
Volunteers, please stand up and hear our thanks for helping out.
Thanks to all of you. This conference would not succeed if it weren’t for you all.
Also, one important edit to our schedule. Dr. Doug Thal will not be here and sorry to say we will not hear his great presentation on the Vet/Horse Owner Relationship. We are going to tweak the schedule and let Daniel Dauphin go back to back with his presentations today. Tomorrow, in Daniel’s spot, we are doing a Q and A session.
Here are some things you need to know about that:
You must ask your question succinctly on the index cards provided. Then you need to give that card either Nicole Churilla or Katrin Silva. (stand up and wave). Overnight and tomorrow, we will curate the questions in a way that will benefit as many attendees as possible – so, for instance, presenter-specific questions might be better posed to that individual. And please save the long, nostalgic backstory for another time. Write clearly AND put your name on the card in case Katrin or Nicole want to ask you a follow-up question.
During two sessions – one in the morning and one right before our farewell reception – Dr. Sheree King and several presenters will field questions – we’re figuring about five questions each session. So that’s the plan, which as I said, is a tweak to our schedule.
This is our fifth Summit go-around and while we think we’re getting the hang of it, well, you just never know.
“You just never know” is the kind of phrase that horse people understand.
This summer, I lost my horse, Shea, a PMU mare in her early twenties. I had left for the weekend and got that call we all dread at about 10 o’clock on Saturday night. Videos to my phone. Calls with the emergency vet. By 2 am, she was gone. Colic. She had never colicked before.
But You just never know.
Because I was around all kinds of horse folks when it happened, they had sympathies and thoughts for me:
“Sometimes they pick when you’re gone, to spare you the pain.”
My vet speculated that it was such and such. Blood work indicated I’d made the right call to end her suffering.
You just never know.
At the Summit, of course, we like to think that we can give you the tools and knowledge so that you always know. In our short history, we have offered presentations on hoof science, brain science, the power of a good seat, the anatomy of the top line, and the legacy of Bill and Tom Dorrance. We have more than 40 videos available to stream online and this year we will add to this library; it’s an educational legacy that tens of thousands of horse owners and riders have accessed. And that you, by virtue of attending this conference, will have complimentary streaming to for one year, starting early next spring.
This year, we have another wonderful balance of academic and practical offerings. This year, we extended our work with half-day Friday electives on stockmanship, saddle fit, and tools for mindfulness and leadership in our work with humans and horses.
At the Best Horse Practices Summit, we seek to make smaller and smaller that window horse owners look through bleakly – as I did this summer – when they wonder why something is going wrong or why something went wrong. Not only do we want to shrink that window, but we want to give you a big door to walk through, an opening to information and resources and the critical mindset and enthusiasm for finding out, for learning more, for being open to the possibilities.
I like to think that our humble conference is where you find out how much you know and how much you don’t know, and how open you can be to new ideas. How much does what we offer rub up with friction against your current practices or, alternatively, how much confirmation and appreciation can you feel for how well you’re doing things already.
We know horses like clarity and comfort.
Us humans do, too. As a species, we love to celebrate certainty. We aren’t impressed by those who express doubt or hesitation. We like to pick sides. The clarity and comfort of black and white is attractive.
But I kind of revel in lack of certainty, in the grey. I believe in the ideology of doubt. And I think it’s glorious when you replace certainty with curiosity and dip your toe, or, heck, jump in the deep end of discomfort.
We can bring notions like these to this weekend and, we hope, by extention to our lives and lives with horses.
So some quick suggestions:
Don’t be afraid to question your gut. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Take notes. Make some friends and stay in touch.