Symposium Focuses on Equestrianism’s Future of in Canada

The University of Guelph hosted the Equine Industry Symposium, aimed at bringing professionals and enthusiasts together to discuss ways to keep and retain youth engagement.

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Akaash Maharaj, the former CEO of Equine Canada, facilitated the conference. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Katrina Merkies

On Feb. 10, the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada, hosted the second Equine Industry Symposium aimed at bringing industry professionals and enthusiasts together to discuss ways to keep and retain youth engagement under the theme “Joining Forces on Youth Engagement.”

The opening remarks by Akaash Maharaj, former CEO of Equine Canada, put the Canadian equine industry into perspective using graphics depicting a greater impact on the economy than the dairy industry, but a decline in industry participants.

“Our industry is galloping toward a demographic precipice and unless we do something today, our industry will collapse in a mere 25 years,” Maharaj said.

The morning was filled with thought-provoking presentations from a variety of professionals addressing the topics of youth recruitment, engagement, and succession. Heather Ramey, PhD, from Humber College School of Social and Community Services, in Ontario, iterated that activity participation does not follow a clear-cut model, but should begin early to keep youth interested later in life. Parents play a key role in youth engagement, she said: Parents who participate in activities themselves or who value participation, who are better educated and have a higher income, are more likely engage their children in activities. Barriers must be removed to provide youth with opportunities to get involved in the industry, she added

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