Oregon. Idaho. New Mexico. Nevada. Washington. Alabama. Minnesota. California. Just a few of the western (and not so western) states that had representation at the Western States Horse Summit held May 31, 2001, at Cal Expo in Sacramento, California! Hosted by the Western States Horse Expo, the Summit was the first of its kind in California and drew over 100 participants from throughout the western United States.
Beginning with a Wednesday night get-together, horsemen discussed the need for the Summit to approach the many environmental and political issues facing trails, zoning and the economics of the horse industry. According to Summit Coordinator Rita Schlim, “This all began back at Clemson a few years back when the horsemen from the western states attended a Seminar to represent western equine interests on trails. It seems these meetings are always held back east so we accepted a challenge from Gene Wood to organize a western states summit. After a couple years of debating, planning and talks, the Western States Horse Expo offered to host the Summit and here we are today. It’s really exciting to see all these individuals and horse councils, clubs, associations coming together to discuss these issues!’.
One of the highlights of the Wednesday night get-together was the discussion of the formation of a California State Horse Council. It was discovered that California does have a Horse Council but it has been inactive when it comes to trails, zoning and enviromental issues. Other states attending stressed the importance of their horse councils or groups regarding these issues and it was decided to put a committee together to investigate the reactivation of the California Horse Council in these issues. Those interested signed up and Schlim will coordinate efforts.
Thursday attendance at the Summit was eager to get started and after a light breakfast, Dr. Rob Atwill, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D. of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine addressed the question “Does Your Horse Pose a Risk to Human Health and the Environment”. With slides and handouts, Dr. Atwill explained the latest scientific research Including DNA and stressed the importance OF scientific data based on research — not hearsay.
After Dr. Atwill, Joanna Clines, National Forest Service Botanist, addressed “Weed Free” and the need for horse owners when entering public lands to use certified weed-free feed. Many states have weed-free plans but in some areas, only certain counties and regions require weed-free feed. Beginning 2003, horse owners utilizing federal public lands in California will be required to use and feed California Certified Weed Free Feed.
Before lunch, Charlie Willard, Chief, Office of Grants & Local Services spoke on “Trails, Who Gets to Use Them” after which Terry Noonan, Trails Coordinator of the East Bay Regional Park District addressed “Without Conflicts — Trails in Urban America”.
Jan Hancock, Equestrian Representative on the National Board of Directors of American Trails, presented “Funding & Partnership Opportunities for Equestrians”. She reminded folks to “look for money everywhere”. Not only in the usual places of equine interest but in “those unlikely places as well. Ask and ye shall receive…..”.
The last three speakers of the day included: Sandra Tozzine, Assistant Professor of law at the University of La Verne College of Law in Ontario, California “Equine Limited Liability Laws: What Do They Mean? Where Do We Stand?”; Bonnie Davis, freelance writer, “How to Respond to EIRs Using Scientific Data & Common Sense” and Donald E. Pugh, President of the Disabled Equestrians Organization, “The Wilderness Wheelchair — a Horse”.
The last couple hours of the 2001 Summit were an open question and answer session where those who didn’t receive time to ask questions after a specific presentation — had the floor. It was free-wheeling and equestrians stated their opinions, concerns and needs as well as asking questions. And for those that couldn’t write notes fast enough, a Summit binder was given to each registered individual with copies of ALL presentations plus the latest scientific data on horse manure, urine and more from EnviroHorse, a group dedicated to scientific fact! Plus, tucked into the binder were handouts and copies from other groups, organizations and invidiuals.
According to Schlim, “we’re really proud of the Summit and for all the people who took time out of their lives to attend. With our host, the Western States Horse Expo, we had a wide variety of sponsors. Individuals Cindy Silvani-Lacey and Julie Suhr plus organizations AERC Trails Committee, Bay Area Barns and Trails, East County Horsemen’s Organization, El Dorado Equestrian Trails Foundation, EnviroHorse, Ohlone Riders Unit BCHC, Region III IAHA, San Ramon Valley Horsemen’s Association, Arabian Trail Riders Association plus the Auburn Printers, Hilton Arden West, Nature’s Best Pelleting, Studio S. Designs, Sundowner Trailers and Two Horse Enterprises all helped to make this a success! Without them, we couldn’t have provided such a wide variety of speakers and topics.”
When asked about a 2002 Western States Horse Summit, Schlim’s immediate reply was “Yes! Definitely!! The feedback from this group is so positive we will definitely have the Summit again. In fact, the Western States Horse Expo has offered to host the Summit every year for as long as we need it!! In 2002 we’ll be right back here.”.