Monday, February 19, 2018

Joining Forces on Youth Engagement

Could a "Junior Horse Sport Association" rebrand for Canadian Pony Club, save the larger equine community too? On the latest hoofbeats episode we are in discussion with Sara Chauvin, about her provincials pitch, as well as the recent Equine Symposium.
Are you as horrified as we are to hear that our equine sector is already beginning to die-off, and could, in 15 -25 years, enter a catastrophic collapse? hoofbeats radio recently attended an event that was free to anyone involved in any equine sector to discuss the issue. It included a swag bag and entry into door prize draws with any donation!

It was a great idea to expand the breakout discussions to run the entire afternoon. But, the very structured instructions almost inhibited creative thinking and open discussion. Some of the themes that I noticed were accessibility, marketing, social initiatives, education, and a desire to spread awareness that “horses are for everyone!” As well as a focus to recruit the very young 5-10 and their parents, to promote a branded hashtag, and to have all disciplines filtered through OE and to ensure we invite more breeds and equine orgs in the dialogue.

I also compiled this list of “Actionable Items” from across the groups: 
- create new entertaining, educational incentives (need to be creative, fun and appealing for different ages)
- speakers, groundwork and conditioning classes for horse and rider
- field trips for classrooms, extra curricular activities through schools
- bring clinicians to small towns
- inter-family collaboration and carpooling
- volunteer programs
- creative, enjoyable on-line content
- affordable workshops and training programs, esp. community based lunch and learns
- rebrand pony club, introduce paid staff to structure, become more visible in the larger equine community
- bring back horse extension agents
- offering more barn tours
- an OE template to host events
- educate/accreditation re: equine therapy/corporate leadership programs using horses
- implement co-op and high school programs for the equine industries
- more promotion of the sports, health and mental wellness aspects

In terms of suggested small personal actions you can take, I would say the top idea was: personally invite people to experience equine exposure with you!

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Other changes reflected that the original venue, the largest classroom at the OVC was too small for the expected turn out, and that the events were transferred to the larger Thornborough Building in the School of Engineering.

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