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Rave Reviews for Red Deer Conference

Published: 1/17/2013
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By Maddy Butcher

If the Equine Affaire is a shopping mall on Christmas Eve, then the Alberta Horse Owners & Breeders Conference is a school on the first day.

Scores of eager learners crowded into conference rooms at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer, Alberta, to hear lectures on everything from cloning, to acupuncture, to liberty work.

Most lectures were standing room only.
Many speakers were held past their allotted times, cornered by attendees for kudos and pointed questions. Read Dan James interview excerpt here.

It was a two-day, education frenzy, tailor-made for horse owners and lovers.
The conference, founded by Ron Cole at the University of Calgary, started out as an informal, continuing education gig back in the 80s. Since then, it has become more organized and better funded while still maintaining its healthy base of enthusiastic staff, volunteers, and fans. Past speakers include Linda Tellington-Jones, Spanish photographer Robert Vavra, and German Equitana founder, Wolf Krober.

Many attendees live within a few hours drive, but others hailed from other provinces and the U.S. As in previous years, the conference hosted speakers from around the world.
Dr. Matt Randall came from Texas to give his “Other Needle” presentation. According to Randall, the helpfulness of acupuncture is beyond scrutiny.

“The licking and chewing tells us we’ve done something that’s making the horse feel better,” said Randall of a typical horse reaction during and after treatment.
But proving the benefits under typical American standards is more challenging.
“Western medicine is slow to accept it because there is not a good explanation,” he said.
He pointed to the University of Florida’s Dr. Huisheng Xie as one researcher keen on finding a biochemical explanation for acupuncture’s effectiveness.
Research shows, for instance, that certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, and beta-endorphins, are effected by the treatment.

But what does this mean?
Read more about Dr. Randall’s talk next week.

Speaking of neurochemistry, Dr. Steve Peters traveled from Iowa to give two detailed lectures in learning, memory and brain functioning. His presentation detailed the ideas of Evidence-Based Horsemanship, a book he coauthored with Martin Black.

Read about his presentations here.

Temple Grandin's reputation as a compelling lecturer and industry standard maker made hers the weekend's best attended talk. Folks saved seats well in advance.


Her positive impact on animal welfare, especially at slaughter facilities, has changed the very bedrock of handling standards. One can safely say, Grandin has improved the end-of-life period for millions of animals.
On top of this, Grandin doesn't mince words. She had no filter for Political Correctness and no tolerance for treating animals inhumanely.

Dr. Marion Anderson, president of Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, humbly introduced Grandin as the conference’s keynote speaker.
As Grandin approached the podium, everyone stood, cheered, and clapped. A Standing Ovation before she’d uttered a word.

Kyla Pollard, talented horsewoman and owner of K'has Tan, traveled from British Columbia for the conference and said hearing Grandin was the highlight of the trip.
“I was so moved by her endearing honesty and high regard for the animals, I almost teared up a few times.”

I interviewed Grandin before her talk (see photo right) and will write more next week.

Read about Grandin's visit to Maine.

Audience and Temple Grandin photos by Kyla Pollard
Read blog post about Kyla Pollard

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