By Taylor Kyse
The American Youth Council Symposium of 2016 was filled with fun and enlightening learning experiences. Lexington, Kentucky was an excellent place for the symposium to be held because of all the locations one can go to in order to learn and experience the versatility of horses. The event started at 4:30 AM on Friday morning for Emily, Brenna and myself. Our first stop of the day was to Keeneland to watch the racehorses exercise. We even saw a couple horses running against each other. We then headed back to the hotel for our second adventure of the day; and it was only 7:30 AM! We loaded the bus and headed to our next stop at Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center. I was overwhelmed by the facility and all of its resources to help rehabilitate horses. At one point I had wanted to work at or own an equine rehabilitation center like KESMARC. I had never seen an equine swimming pool before and I found it interesting how natural it was for a horse to swim. The facility had many other systems to rehabilitate the horses, but one that I found remarkable that I hadn’t known existed was the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. It was a round room that one horse would fit in at a time for about an hour and the chamber would fill with oxygen, helping improve the lungs and circulation of the horse.
After KESMARC, we then headed to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. Until the trip, I had not known about Rood & Riddle. We saw surgeries being conducted, which surprisingly did not make me woozy. We also saw all the parts of the hospital including the recovery rooms, the MRI machine, the x-ray room, and the workout area for recovering horses. It is an amazing equine hospital. After lunch, we headed to Blue Willow Farm and watched demonstrations of their horses and what they do. I was surprised by how similar a Morgan halter horse is to an Arabian halter horse, though I know they aren’t completely the same. The owner of the facility was wonderful and explained everything in detail so we knew what we were watching and looking for throughout the demonstrations. We then headed to Shadwell farm and learned about their Thoroughbred breeding program and saw the stunning facility as well as a few of their stallions on the campus. We then headed back to the hotel and ate dinner and heard from a wonderful speaker, Patti Colbert. After dinner, we discussed in small groups with others what the issues are and what should be done regarding youth membership and getting others to start riding and competing. We learned a lot about other associations and clubs on what they are doing for the situation. Day one was filled well. The next day, Saturday, we had breakfast while listening to the happenings of the day. Everyone then broke out to attend three consecutive sessions. The first session we attended was “Helping Horse Industry Youth Find the ‘Right Fit’ in matching Equine Interests to College Choice Options.” Though we are already in college, Emily and I learned about other colleges and what the descriptions of the equine majors within the colleges are. I believe it was helpful to know so we can better understand and explain to younger horse enthusiasts what to expect and look for when looking at colleges. The next session we attended was “internships and Their Impact on Your Equine Career.” The last session of the day was “30 Seconds to Land Your Dream Job.” It helped Emily and I come to a better understanding of what employers want, especially relating to the equine world. Emily and I are proud of ourselves because we learned that our resumes are built pretty nicely!
After the sessions were completed for the day, buses started to leave for the Kentucky Horse Park. When we got to the park, we got to watch the Interscholastic Horse Show Nationals. And oh man, the IEA is definitely different than our Arabian shows! Not only was the show fun and interesting to watch the competition, but we were able to enjoy a pizza party and walk around the booths surrounding the arena. We then walked around the park and saw the Al-Marah Arabian Horse exhibit, which is a wonderful display of the Arabian horse. And of course, we hit the gift shop. Brenna, Emily and I then went on a little adventure of our own to the Churchill Downs. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I plan on going there to watch a race one day when I graduate college and then get rich. That’s how it works, right?
We then headed back for the dinner. We had some delicious food and heard some wonderful speakers. We then heard from Bernie Traurig who talked about his life in the horse industry and how he believes that off-the-track Thoroughbreds are the best way to be competitive in the industry in comparison to importing Warmbloods from Europe. We also had some delicious cake for dessert and then ended our Saturday night.Sunday morning we heard another inspirational speech by Rebecca Bott. She talked about her experiences of traveling the world and helping provide healthcare for families’ horses in the poverty-stricken countries and taught the families how to provide and care correctly for their horses. She explained how only 1% of the world’s veterinarians are in the countries she attended. The horses these families own are the families’ main and biggest source of income; so she provided the healthcare so these families can live better lives and have healthier horses. It is amazing what one person can do. Following the speech, we learned about where next year’s AYHC Symposium is going to be, Danvers, Massachusetts. There are some awesome things planned for next year. We then broke out into our last sessions of the weekend. The first of the two sessions we attended was about what jobs are actually in the horse industry, hands-on and hands-off. The speaker, Sarah Coleman discussed how if you love horses and it is your passion, you want to be careful not to lose that passion by working hands-on every day and then you get sick of horses. Sarah discussed how she was in the hands-off industry and explained some of her amazing experiences as an editor for equestrian magazines and other companies. One of her points that I took to heart was that any degree can get you involved in the equine industry one way or another. Some degrees are more involved than others, so still be selective with what you want to do. After Sarah’s discussion, we heard from Jen Roytz who discussed the equine marketing business and the effects of social media, the good and the bad. We learned what an employer, as she was one, would look for when hiring. She also explained her experiences as a horsewoman and how she remained employed in equine business since college. The biggest thing I took away from her discussion was that the equine world is all about communication and connections. And never make anyone mad. Every week she would spend time writing notes to people she had met previously or recently thanking them for what they did for her and for what she learned. She concluded this by saying it was extremely easy for her to find employment after college because of her connections and because she wrote those notes. In the third session of the morning, Brenna, Emily, and I presented on TAIL tours. We received a lot of interest during the session. We also got asked a lot of questions. I believe it was important for us to speak on TAIL tours because other breeds, associations, and clubs can form the same type of tour for their competitions, exhibitions, etc. We received excellent feedback and it was good recognition for the Arabian breed. The weekend was then over. I am sad for the AYHC Symposium to be completed, but I feel that I am now a wealth of knowledge after just three days. I am sincerely grateful for having this experience to travel and see an important part of our horse industry. Thank you AHA for giving me this experience. As an AHYA member, I feel that this weekend is important for our youth. Having sent Emily and I as youth representatives, I know we will follow through and teach what we have learned and will make AHA proud.
About the Author Taylor Kyse was the 2015-2016 AHYA President