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Summit draws horse-industry professionals to Kentucky

by UofL Today last modified Apr 21, 2010 02:39 PM

Horseplay is serious business for the people who come from far and wide to attend the Kentucky International Equine Summit April 26-27.

The event at the Hilton Lexington/Downtown brings together leaders from all aspects of horsing to examine critical issues facing the industry, said Richard Wilcke, director of the Equine Industry Program in the University of Louisville's College of Business.

Most who attend the conference are officers, directors or committee members of state, regional or national horse associations or breed registries.

"If you're in the horse business, this is the place to get current," Wilcke said.

This is the second time for the summit, which UofL offers every other year in cooperation with the University of Kentucky. The first one in 2008 featured more than 90 speakers from five countries and drew more than 300 equine professionals.

Although it spans only two days, the summit is as intense as a weeklong affair since attendees are allowed to move freely among three simultaneous sessions, Wilcke said. This year's event will feature more than 70 speakers and panelists from the United States, England and France, and attendance is expected to be even higher than it was 2008.

"It helps that we schedule the summit several days before The Kentucky Derby, which happens to be the nicest time of the year to visit our state," he added.

Sessions will focus on six areas of the horse business: media and technology, structures and strategies, globalization, leadership and management, educational programs and regulatory and jurisdictional issues.

Professionals who cannot attend the conference can watch it on Horse TV's H-SPAN channel, which will live stream all of its sessions worldwide.

On the summit's second day, UofL's 2010 John W. Galbreath Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurship in the Equine Industry will be presented to David Llewellyn, who built the televising of one Australian horse race, the Melbourne Cup, into a daily enterprise followed by fans in 31 nations worldwide.

The Galbreath award, created in 1990, goes to a horse-industry leader who has shown a visionary approach to business, a willingness to take personal risk and an ability to make a profit. The award's namesake, an Ohio horseman, was the first person to breed and race winners of both the Kentucky and Epsom derbies and later served as chairman of the board of Churchill Downs.

The Kentucky Legislature created UofL's Equine Industry Program in 1986. Students in the program must take a full business curriculum including courses in accounting, computer systems, economics, finance and marketing as well as 30 hours of applied equine courses to graduate with an equine major.

Last summer, Wilcke took about 20 junior and senior students to England for a 10-day study tour of equine-related sites such as New Market, Royal Ascot and Cheltenham.

"We believe our program gives students the assurance of a high-quality degree in business," he said. "If they work in the equine industry, their business skills and education will allow them to be very competitive. If they choose not the work in the equine industry, they still have a very valuable degree."

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