Horse summit opens lines of communication

Argen Duncan

The first New Mexico Equine Industry Summit opened communication and found common ground among state horse organizations, participants said.

The summit took place Saturday at the Curry County Fairgrounds. Seventy people from 30 organizations attended.

“I think it went well,” said organizer Jason Turner, New Mexico State University horse specialist. “I think there were a lot of good questions. From my perspective, we met our goals in that we opened the line of communication and found we have common interest.”

New Mexico Horse Breeders Association Executive Director Anna Fay Davis attended sessions and participated in a panel discussion.

Davis said the education and opened lines of communication were the summit’s most important accomplishments.

“When you get down to the end of the day, it all comes down to the horse,” she said. “We may all have differences, but we can all work together.”

Speakers covered demographics and trends in horse industry participation, incentive programs, equine transportation issues, equine industry alliances and regulations

Leman Wall of the American Quarter Horse Association said the horse is the one most affected by alliances within the horse industry.

With different horse organizations working together, Wall said, they can come closer to their visions, reduce risk and increase rewards.

The industry is under extra scrutiny, he also said. Wall said the biggest benefit of alliances is keeping someone from outside the industry from telling those inside what to do with their time and horses.

“That’s where we’re really capable of making an impact in our industry,” he continued.

In his presentation, New Mexico Livestock Board Executive Director Myles Culbertson said disease and health are always a challenge in New Mexico.

Livestock board regulations aim to protect animals in the state and keep New Mexico in good standing with the rest of the country so livestock can be moved across state lines, he said. If livestock owners don’t buy in to the regulations, he said, it weakens the protection of the industry.

“The one thing we will never be able to do is protect your horses,” he continued.

Owners must make sure their animals are safe from disease and theft, Culbertson said, although the livestock board can help.

Also, New Mexico Cattle Growers Executive Director Caren Cowan and Beverly Idsinga of Dairy Producers of New Mexico spoke of several legislative issues that would affect agriculture, including horses, as a whole. The most immediate issue is animal cruelty, with animal rights activists trying to expand laws in that area, she said.

Idsinga said agricultural organizations lobby to make sure bills have language that allows normal animal husbandry practices. Cowan said it is a concern that someone will redefine what that means.