ENDANGERED EQUINES SUMMIT OVERVIEWJuly 11, 2018
ENDANGERED EQUINES SUMMIT
February 9-11, 2018
College Station Texas
TAKEAWAY MESSAGES SPECIFICALLY PERTAINING TO THE CANADIAN HORSE
On Breed Promotion
- Being a rare breed is not enough of a draw – one cannot simply assume that one can rest on those laurels alone. The horses have to get out there in person and promote and show their unique attributes.
- The horses MUST get out there to be seen and touched in person. A static display or booth has been proven to simply not be enough. The horses being present in person can make all the difference in the world. Seeing their physical presence, temperament and natures in person is what sells them.
- However, to be out there on display, the horses MUST be well trained. A poorly trained or behaved horse will only be a detriment.
- For a breeder to be able to sell horses, they must be trained. There is no point in continually breeding only to have large herd of untrained, unbroke horses.
- When getting your breed out there, take the position that most attendees at events are totally unfamiliar with the breed. As such, ensure that the breed’s name and information about them is announced frequently and mentioned by multiple speakers.
- Utilize as many avenues of promotion as possible: social media, Facebook, Instagram, videos on You tube. The written word and print advertising is not very effective any longer. It has now been shown that social media using good quality photos, is the medium which garners the most attention and engagement.
- The above is only worthwhile if the quality of photos or videos used is good. Nothing does a horse or breed a greater disservice than a poor-quality photo/video.
- Breeders and the breed organization must be accessible and reachable. Must be computer literate but still reachable by phone too. Respond in timely fashion.
- Create a detailed breed profile for your breed with catchy information and good quality information which can be widely disseminated to both members and a wide variety of media, other rare breed organizations, and equine information sources. Good quality photos are essential!
- Be prepared to have a good selection of breed write ups and stories at hand as there is always a need and requests for these.
- Breed organizations and members should make every effort of targeting large scale events to promote their breeds.
The Breed Organization
- Breed organizations should be prepared to maintain and enforce a code of conduct. Bad or unethical behavior within a breed is not to be tolerated.
- Breed organizations should make every effort of providing materials and assistance, including financial, to members interested in participating in large scale targeted events to promote their breeds.
- Mentorship is VERY important. The breed and parent organization must prioritize cultivating and instruct newcomers and young people
- Cooperation within the breed and with other like groups is crucial. Present a united front. Nothing turns off a newcomer from a rare breed than gossip, bad mouthing or divisive politics. Remember, everyone has the same shared passions and common goals
- Develop and share resources for the breed
- Utilize a rare breed logo in addition to the specific breed logo to bring attention to their rarity and the common goal of preservation. This sense of unity will help draw people.
- Member engagement is incredibly important:
- The first key to this is ample and transparent communication.
- Develop programs that members can participate in which are not just strictly performance based. Eg reward participation in breed promotion, breeding, therapy etc
- Breed organizations MUST take a more active role in breed promotion and education. Functioning as a breed registry is not enough. If that is the organization’s mandate, consider creating a secondary arm of the association for which this is its sole function. Be open to using wide variety of tools/options eg email, website, facebook, Instagram etc to keep members engaged. Decide on and get to know your desired audience and target accordingly.
- Must be proactive in keeping breed population numbers and statistics. The importance of doing breed census routinely cannot be understated.
- Most breeds population stats are incredibly inaccurate due to outdated database information because of registrations not being transferred, deaths not being recorded, and foals not being registered. Try to address and correct this. Inaccurate breed numbers are killing our breeds because in many cases, the organization has no idea how dire the situation actually is.
- Try to stem the loss of individuals from the breed through lost registration papers, registrations and transfers not being done. The numbers of individuals being lost in this fashion is epic in every rare breed and efforts need to be made to reverse this trend.
- Consider a brief amnesty period (eg with a reduced late registration fee) to allow those who have not registered mature horses to do so without penalty. Bringing these lost horses back into the breed is not only good for the breed but can also serve as a significant source of income for an association, as this brings in a lot of extra dollars which would otherwise be lost. In the arabian breed, when this was offered, it brought in an additional 600-800 more horses into the breed.
- Consider implementing a hardship clause to allow those horses without papers (eg where the papers have been lost or not transferred) to be allowed back into the breed, assuming proof of parentage verification and identification. In some breeds, the breed association is actually considered to be the owner of the registration papers (not the horse owner) and accordingly that the registration papers belong with the horse. As such they can be reissued as necessary and seen fit by the breed organization.
- Stallions need to be campaigned and shown. Stallions that are untrained, ill behaved and which just sit out in some back field do the breed a serious disservice. A stallion should “earn” the right to be bred.
- More breeders need to be encouraged to keep stallions, especially those of rare bloodlines. Fewer people have stallion handling skills now, so any potential stallion owners need to be taught and mentored by those more experienced
- More stallion owners need to offer AI services using frozen or chilled semen and mare owners need to be open to embracing this technology
- Consider embracing newer equine reproduction technology such as Embryo transfer and ICSI. Ensure the breed organization accepts foals for registration that are a result of these types of technologies.
- Consider creating a frozen semen storage repository either alone or in conjunction with another rare breed, a rare breed organization or through a government sponsored program
- Consider tissue sample freezing, especially to preserve female lines for the future
- If gelding a stud colt, especially one from rare lines or of exceptional quality, have their testes preserved and send for epididymal sperm cell collection (refer to specific article on this subject). If the majority of owners are not in a position to keep a stallion, doing this will be crucial for genetic preservation and to maintain diversity on our breed.
- Poor quality semen, or semen from older stallions is still worth freezing, especially if from rare lines. Need the genetic diversity.
- Be progressive and receptive to the use of new technologies. Eg DNA testing and genome sequencing. The latter is strongly recommended as will assist in future breed preservation and breeding strategies. The cost is much less prohibitive and can be done in a large batch at a reasonable price, and will provide valuable information regarding the lines most in need of preservation, as well as areas of concern regarding genetic diseases etc.
- Regarding funding – cultivate and promote the concept of legacy planning as it can be a significant source (albeit inconsistent) source of income