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Introducing Kim LeffleyJanuary 2018

Story: Madeleine Ehlert, 2nd year Bio-Resource Management, Equine Management major student

The second annual Equine Industry Symposium will feature keynote speaker Kim Leffley, National Chair of the Canadian Pony Club. Leffley is a woman inspired by the confidence riding gives to children. She was drawn to the positive effects horseback riding lessons can have on a young child. Leffley happened upon the job as the National Chair of the Canadian Pony Club, due to some research she was doing for one of her young and horse-loving daughters. Since becoming Chair, Leffley has expressed her ideas and interests in changing the way the industry interacts with one another. She believes the equine industry is a very delicately balanced group that would not be possible if even one contribution from an equine-interested mind was removed. The equine industry would not be the size it is now if it lacked the ability to shape, educate, and define every person involved. Leffley believes that the industry has so much potential to grow among youth and their parents, if involvement for new riders and researchers could be made simpler.

Horsemanship is great example that Leffley discusses in her “Open letter to Equestrian Canada”. Horsemanship is an idea made to sound like it can only be achieved through great experience and wisdom. However Leffley believes that horsemanship can come from just a simple change such as scratching your horse’s neck instead of patting, which research has shown is more positive for the horse. This is a small change that can alter one’s understanding with a simple explanation of positive reinforcement versus positive punishment. Patting a horse’s neck is aversive to the horse, whereas scratching a horse’s withers is associated with allogrooming (when horses nibble each other’s withers) thus creating a reinforcing experience for the horse.

Leffley believes that with many small changes such as these, the idea of horsemanship would become more approachable, especially to a younger or new audience to the Equine Industry. If the horse community takes a little more time with basic levels of training for young horses and new riders, the outcome is bound to be a higher standard. Kim Leffley has a very interesting and important outlook on the equine community, and the industry it leads.