Posted on September 16, 2014 05:39 pm
By Sarah Evers Conrad
It’s that time of year again when the Certified Horsemanship Association finishes planning its big annual event, the CHA International Conference, which is open to the public. Attendees are getting ready for several days of presentations from top horse trainers, instructors, veterinarians, farriers, and equine behaviorists. This year’s event will be held in Lexington, KY, October 23-October 26. It’s an event not to be missed, and there is still time to register to attend.
The conference offers over 50 top-notch speakers, multiple social events and chances to network, hands-on demonstrations and riding opportunities, along with great food, lodging, and attractions in a beautiful horsey-locale, and more. The conference has a successful history for CHA, with over 40 past conferences in the history books for CHA. Up to 350 people attend each year, and many find it the highlight of their year. It is the best way for members to get involved, for non-members to see all that CHA has to offer, and for all to learn some new tips and techniques to take home with them and apply to their equine programs or just their own personal riding.
The staff plans all year long—lining up guest speakers, laying out the schedule, planning the logistics of when and where all of the activities will take place, and registering guests. In fact, the staff and board of directors do some planning a year or more in advance.
The event starts on Thursday, October 23, with registration and a chance to see the vendors and the silent auction at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort and Spa, the official hotel for attendees. Special rates have been negotiated for attendees who book their accommodations by September 30. Find out more and book your room by visiting their online portal for the CHA Conference or call 877-901-6632.
CHA’s President, Ward Stutz, will kick off the festivities with his Keynote address, followed by the Annual Membership Meeting. A new board is elected by vote of the membership during the Annual Membership Meeting. In addition, any proposed bylaw additions or changes will be discussed and voted upon at the meeting. While non-members cannot vote at the meeting, all are welcome to attend.
A variety of round table discussions will then help attendees learn more about several of CHA’s Partners, such as the American Competitive Trail Horse Association (with Lisa Wysocky), the North American Trail Ride Conference (with Mary Anna Wood), the Back Country Horsemen Association (with Jim McGarvey), and other associations, such as the American Hippotherapy Association (with Jaqueline Tilley), Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (with Amanda Love), etc. The afternoon finishes with your choice of presentation on practical topics, such as equine activity liability (with Jill Montgomery), tips for working with riders with autism and other special needs (with Tammi Gainer), and taking care of the lesson horse (with Mitch Taylor).
Guests will definitely want to sign up for the special Meet and Greet Reception on Thursday evening, where they can network, meet representatives from the National Horse Center at the Kentucky Horse Park, and listen to Keynote Speaker Darley Newman. Darley Newman’s Emmy-winning TV series, Equitrekking takes viewers along with her on horseback riding adventures around the world. Her passion for horses and travel is inspiring horse lovers in over 84 countries where the show is broadcast.
After Thursday’s must-attend social event, two days of workshops and presentations will kick off on topics such as working Western disciplines, horse health, dressage, reining, how to teach certain horsemanship skills, beginning and advanced lateral work, business and marketing, and so much more.
Friday’s events will be held at the iconic and beautiful Kentucky Horse Park. There are so many educational horsemanship sessions, I can’t even mention them all here. Just take a look at the tentative schedule online.
There are also some optional hands-on riding sessions for an extra fee for those who want to experience some kinesthetic learning. Full conference participants may ride in one mounted presentation as long as they have brought their own boots, correct riding attire, and an ASTM-SEI-approved helmet. Riders can practice dressage, polo, or a few vaulting exercises. CHA Cllinic Instructor Teresa Kackert will discuss how to teach riders of different levels at the same time. Horse behaviorist Mary Ann Simonds, who founded the Whole Horses and Equestrian Sciences Institute, offers some tips on equine sports coaching skills. Sue Robinson, who is a lifelong riding instructor and the current head of the equine science department and the equestrian team coach at Murray State University in Kentucky, shows attendees some fitness and strength-building techniques for riders. It’s a full day of educational opportunities with the evening free for attendees to explore the city of Lexington.
Saturday continues the educational sessions at the Kentucky Horse Park. With more than a dozen topics covered, attendees will want to soak up as much as they can. American Quarter Horse Association Professional Horseman Jim McDonald will discuss horse training and what every horse owner should know. Jody Taylor, a lifelong equine professional, riding instructor, and owner of Star T Ranch, and Teresa Kackert will be hands-on with jumping exercises in the morning. In addition, horse show judge, instructor, and author Kathy Findlay offers hands-on judging instruction right after lunch. PATH International Instructor, equine clinician, author, and motivational speaker Lisa Wysocki will help attendees change up their perspective and see the riding lesson from the horse’s point of view. During the lunch break, the National Reining Horse Association gives both novice and experienced horseman alike the chance to “Ride a Reiner” and receive a lesson from an NRHA professional and feel what it’s like to do a sliding stop and perform a reining spin on a well-trained reining horse. This is always a popular option wherever it is offered.
A variety of health and horse wellness topics are also offered so that attendees can learn more about keeping their equine partners healthy, sound, and happy. These topics include saddle fit and comfort (with German Certified Master Saddler Jochen Schleese), managing your horse’s weight (with the University of Kentucky’s Director of Undergraduate Studies and equine nutritionist Dr. Bob Coleman), and assessing the horse’s myofascial and postural imbalances (with equine chiropractor Patricia Bona).
One of the last sessions on Saturday is sure to be a fun one. This year at the conference, CHA is debuting a new pilot program. Similar to the popular Extreme Mustang Makeover, the CHA Riding Instructor Challenge features CHA instructors that have been invited to compete against one another in a challenge to teach a brand new rider and showcase their horsemanship teaching skills. May the best instructor win! This year’s participants include Amanda Love (Horsemanship Director at Texas A&M), Dale Rudin (certified riding instructor), Teresa Kackert, and Shellie Carmoney (Equestrian Program Specialist at Jester Park Equestrian Center). These brave first contestants will be the first in a program that will be featured at equine expos and events across the country to gain more awareness for CHA. “We are excited about the CHA Riding Instructor Challenge debuting at our international conference in Kentucky this year,” said Christy Landwehr, CHA Chief Executive Officer. “We want to display safe, effective, and fun teaching to all ability levels.”
Again, there are too many presentations to describe in one blog post. Each presentation is set to be just as informative and impactful as the next. In addition to checking out the schedule, don’t forget to read through the speaker bios and presentation descriptions on CHA’s website to learn what kind of experience each speaker brings with him or her. Each speaker is an exceptional horseman or horsewoman with a lot of knowledge to share with attendees.
Attendees won’t want to miss the CHA Awards Banquet on Saturday night. Various awards will be handed out throughout the evening, such as the CHA Distinguished Service Award, the CHA Clinic Instructor of the Year, the CHA Stone School Horse of the Year, the Partnership in Safety Award, and the Volunteer Award.
Patti Colbert will be the Keynote Speaker about the American Horse Council’s Time to Ride program and about the generational differences in parents bringing new youngsters in to riding. An amazing meal prepared by the Marriott Griffin Gate will cap off the evening as everyone makes their final bids on the silent auction. Auction winners will be announced so that everyone can get their items.
While some may opt to head home on Sunday, there is also the chance to tour the beautiful Bluegrass area. Plan to enjoy some of the well-known and favorite activities in the area, such as watching some racing at Keeneland Racetrack, touring the Kentucky Horse Park and its many different museums, visiting the Thoroughbred retirement home called Old Friends Equine or another of the more than 500 horse farms, learn how to make bourbon on the Bourbon Trail, or see some of Lexington’s historic sites, such as the home of statesman Henry Clay called Ashland Estate, Waveland State Historic Site, the childhood home of Mary Todd Lincoln, the charming downtown area of Lexington, and more. There are numerous sites geared for horse lovers in the “Horse Capital of the World.” It really is a horse lover’s dream destination.
For more information or to register, visit the 2014 CHA International Conference page on CHA-AHSE.org. We look forward to seeing you there.