horse industry safety summit
The University of Kentucky (UK) Ag Equine Programs, Saddle Up Safely and other partnering organizations hosted an inaugural Horse Industry Safety Summit on April 23 at Spindletop Hall, in Lexington.

The event featured researchers, equestrians, and equine enthusiasts in a format that combined expert panels, individual speakers, and poster presentations. The day focused solely on ways to keep equine riders and handlers safe.

“I am extremely pleased with the inaugural Horse Industry Safety Summit,” said Fernanda Camargo, DVM, PhD, associate professor, equine extension specialist, and chair of the planning committee. “The presentations were a perfect mix of scientific discoveries as well as practical tips. What makes this group of presenters even more special is that that aren’t just accomplished researchers, they are also horsemen as well.”

Sessions included:

  • A welcome address by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron;
  • How helmets protect riders’ heads by Stephanie Bonin, PhD, PE, and senior biomechanical engineer with MEA Forensic Engineers and Scientists;
  • The role of nutrition and fitness in rider safety and performance by Daniel Stewart, Pressure Proof Coaching Academy;
  • Concussion baseline testing and return to ride protocol by Carl Mattacola, PhD, ATC, FNATA, director of the Jockey Equestrian Initiative and professor and associate dean of academic and faculty affairs in the UK College of Health Sciences;
  • Life-changing aspects of a traumatic brain injury by Mindy Coleman, counsel for the Jockey’s Guild, Inc.;
  • The importance of protective vests by Sarah Andres, PhD, safety committee chair for the U.S. Pony Club;
  • Learn to fall by Danny and Keli Warrington of Landsafe Equestrian;
  • Analysis of jockey injury reporting at Maryland Thoroughbred racetracks by Gabrielle Garruppo, a researcher from MedStar’s Maryland Horsemen’s Health;
  • A multidisciplinary approach to post-concussion care for equestrians by Lisa Harris, a physical therapist at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital;
  • Effective online equine behavior and safety education for members of the equine industry by Gayle Ecker, MS, director of Equine Guelph;
  • An equestrian perspective safety panel, moderated by Jen Roytz, of the Retired Racehorse Project, and featuring Day; Richard Picken, show jumping coach; Jane Beshear, former First Lady of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and avid amateur rider; and Eric Hamelback, former farm manager; and
  • An organizational perspective safety panel, moderated by Dan Fick, of the Racing Officials Accreditation Program, featuring Coleman; Hamelback; Sonja Keating, United States Equestrian Federation; Carol Kozlowski, United States Eventing Association; Vince Gabbert, Keeneland; and Steve Koch, National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

The summit organizing committee consisted of representatives from UK Ag Equine Programs, UK College of Health Science, Kentucky 4-H Horse Program, United States Pony Clubs, New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, Retired Racehorse Project, Saddle Up Safely, North American Racing Academy, and UK College of Public Health.

“I am very appreciative of all the members of the organizing committee, who have been meeting and working on the program for the past year,” Camargo said. “It is really gratifying to see this event launch, and to see how well received it has been. As a result, the committee will be meeting soon to start planning the second safety summit.”

The Horse Industry Safety Summit was sponsored by UK Ag Equine Programs, UK HealthCare, Kentucky Horse Council, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Landsafe Equestrian, the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Dinsmore Equine Law/Laura Holoubek, and Ride Safe.

Holly Wiemers, MA, APR, is communications and managing director for UK Ag Equine Programs.


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