6th Equine Industry Summit- 2024

The 6th Equine Industry Summit is Coming to Town!

6th Equine Industry Summit: Working Together to Create a Unified Voice for Vermont’s Equine Industry. Horses, Vermont Agriculture & Tourism - April 27, 2024

The brainchild of a Vermont Horse Council board member and past president, the Equine Industry Summit is back!  After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the 6th summit, Working Together to Create a Unified Voice for Vermont’s Equine Industry, takes place on Saturday, April 27, 2024.

The event is co-hosted by the Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) in South Woodstock at the Youth Center. The program features a keynote address by equestrian legend Denny Emerson of Tamarack Hill Farm, five informative sessions, lunch, and networking opportunities.

The driving force behind the Equine Industry Summit is the afore-mentioned VHC member Heidi Krantz. The grant she secured from Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement is being used to brand the event, create marketing tools, and a strategic promotional plan. This enables VHC to reach a broader segment of the equine industry and related businesses. It also helps to raise awareness of the economic and esthetic contributions equines make in Vermont.

The Equine Industry Summit helps to attract new VHC members, raise sponsorship support to run the event and raise operating capital for VHC. The Vermont Horse Council is an all-volunteer, non-profit educational 501-c3 funded through memberships, fundraising events, donations, and grants.

According to Heidi Krantz, “The Equine Industry Summit is a pet project of mine. I think it is important to bring the diverse interests of the equine community in Vermont together to network, compare concerns and successes, and importantly to envision the future of the industry. It’s a day filled with conversation, education, and opportunity”. 

The event kicks off with a keynote by Denny Emerson, a staunch supporter of the Vermont equine industry, who enthusiastically shares his knowledge, observations, and humor with followers. Emerson is the only rider to have won both an international gold medal in eventing and a Tevis Cup buckle in endurance. He was named United States Eventing Association’s Rider of the Year in 1972. He is an author, educator and always both an advocate for and student of the horse. 

Krantz goes on to point out, “The collaboration between the VHC, GMHA, UVM, and Farm Credit Northeast Ag Enhancement, along with the support of many other sponsors, demonstrates the interest in and support of this important piece of the changing agricultural scene in Vermont.”

How equine businesses fit into the definition of agriculture in Vermont is one of five sessions on the day’s agenda. Professor of Law at the Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLS), Nicole Killoran and a panel of her students explore this evolving issue. In addition, participants hear from Jackie Folsom, president of the Vermont Farm Bureau who shares 2024 legislative priorities and discusses the role of equine business owners in the Farm Bureau’s advocacy process.

Agritourism is a steadily growing segment of Vermont’s agricultural industry. Farms with horses are playing a growing role in tourism. From sleigh and horse-drawn rides at events to breeding and training farms such as the UVM Morgan Horse Farm, horses help to draw visitors to the state. 

Heather Pelham, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing leads an interactive discussion on how to build equine agritourism opportunities in Vermont. Panelists include Kelly Grant of The Bunkhouse, Washington, VT, Colleen O’Rourke of Pond Hill Ranch and Rodeo, Castleton, VT, and Margot Smithson of the UVM Morgan Horse Farm, Weybridge, VT.

To round out the day’s activities Clark Hinsdale, a planning and permitting consultant, shares his experience with municipal and state systems to obtain and maintain equine trail access to community lands in Vermont. Clark shares valuable tools for participants to make similar endeavors a reality within their towns. 

VHC’s President Jeannette Cole says, “The Equine Industry Summit provides an opportunity to meet with our business community, to help build important connections between consumers, government, educational institutions, and membership. In turn it helps to fulfill our vision of promoting a thriving equine community in Vermont. I am honored and pleased to be a part of this special event, and equally to be associated with so many professionals within Vermont. We hope equine business owners and enthusiasts join us for this exciting event!”

For more information and to register for the summit visit VtHorseCouncil.org/summit/ .  To have a voice in the future of Vermont’s equine industry, register online by April 1 for early bird and new member specials.

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