Being part of a live event or Conference can be a real mind-blowing experience. Hearing from inspirational speakers, and connecting with other horse owners can leave you feeling motivated and buzzing with new ideas for your horses.
But you can also feel slightly overwhelmed and wondering if you missed anything. So with that in mind here’s a review of the highlights of the NKC Equestrian Training Healthy Horse Conference 2019.
If you missed the event this year you might find it helpful to give you an idea of what an NKC Equestrian Training Conference looks like.
The concept of the Healthy Horse Conference was to bring together some of the best speakers in the equine veterinary world, and cover some of the challenges that horse owners and equine professionals are facing on a daily basis.
Together we inspired the delegates to make better decisions for their horses, and those in their care, bringing the latest advances in senior care, nutrition, weight management, equine pain and lameness and technology.
Vet Nicky Jarvis is the head of Veterinary and Care at Redwings, which is the largest horse sanctuary in the UK. Her presentation on ‘How to Manage the Overweight Horse’ was crammed with scientific data, and practical tips. Nicky spoke about the many overweight horses in her care, and offered so many useful suggestions for owners and professionals to take away and implement for the horses in their care.
Nicky shared some very powerful statisitics regarding overweight and obese horses, and hidden internal fat, a 500kg horse could be carrying close to 240kg of fat. We were urged to use the Winter months to get our horse’s weight in check, as this season is the easiest time to diet your horse.
Sue Dyson needs no introduction to anyone in the horse world, she has authored books, chapters and literally hundreds of research papers. She is a leading expert of lameness, and lectures around the world. Sue’s first talk was titled how we can recognise lameness better, and Sue talked us through some extremely fascinating videos showing a variety of lameness presentations. A main takeaway from this session was that lameness is more than looking at legs, and it’s certainly more than a head-nod. Owners, trainers and even vets miss lameness, but Sue pressed upon the delegates that anyone can be trained to recognise changes in behaviour and performance and that these must not be dismissed. Lameness is a sign of pain, but pain doesn’t always mean lameness, it can manifest in changes in the way of going and a horse’s attitude towards work.
Meriel Moore-Colyer is a leading researcher on equine nutrition, and is also the Dean of Equine at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester. Meriel’s talk was outlined the importance of fibre, and why our horses don’t really need that much else in their diets. She detailed some very interesting new research highlighting that horses workloads are grossly overestimated, and urged owners to consider how hard their horse actually does work. Meriel concluded her presentation by detailing the importance of correctly storing hay and how to improve the quality of forage through steaming.
Pat Harris is a vet, a renowned author and researcher in equine nutrition, and is responsible for much of the science behind Spillers horse feeds. Pat shared so many interesting developments into our understanding of older horses, and many practical tips for caring for the senior equine. Horses are living longer and longer, and with some management tweaks we can make a significant difference to our older horses. Pat really brought the science to life with anecdotes on her older horses (aged 25 and 32 respectively!)
A delicious lunch was served in the restaurant and certainly enjoyed by both the delegates and speakers.
In our first session after lunch Sue presented her second talk, outlining the effect of the saddle and rider on the horse. Saddle slip may be due to the rider, an asymmetrically flocked saddle but quite often it is due to hindlimb lameness. Sue detailed how whilst pads, half numnahs and gel liners are popular and often fashionable in horsey circles there is actually very little scientific basis for using any of these.
Chris gave a very useful overview of how technology has changed the way the modern equine vet operates, and he outlined some new exciting developments that are allowing more precision based medicine for our horses. Technology is making it easier, and more objective to spot lameness and the horse owner is increasingly able to provide more detailed data to their vet. We can monitor our horses remotely, and Chris gave his thoughts on the technology that will stand the test of time.
After another welcomed tea breaks (and more fabulous fresh donuts and fruit) we opened the floor for our delegates to ask questions. This was a lovely way to consolidate the learning from the day, and provided even more thoughts to consider.
All delegates received a beautiful goodie box on arrival, and I think it’s fair to say that they weren’t disappointed with the items from Forelock and Fringe, Jen Winnett Art, Forelock Books, Spillers and Trackener.
I set myself the challenge of creating a workbook that I would like to receive, not an uninspiring print out of the slides. I also wanted a workbook that makes sense when you read it back after the event. It contained programme information as well as a summary of the talks from each of the speakers. There was plenty of space to write notes, and I hope that this will be a useful document for our delegates to refer back to in the future.
The delegates learned a huge amount throughout the day, they gained new friendships, made new connections and are continuing to develop these within the designated Facebook group. It was such a pleasure to bring such a stellar line up together, and allow the lovely owners and equine professionals who joined us to benefit from their extensive knowledge. If you missed out on our Healthy Horse Conference 2019 then don’t worry, you can sign up for details of our 2020 Conference, running on 31st October 2020.