More than 170 equestrians from across Canada headed to Montreal, QC for a week of world-class panels, information sessions, clinics, and social events during the 2016 EC Annual Convention, held at the Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel from April 20-24, 2016.
Centred on the theme, Building Canada’s Equestrian Future, the Convention was a resounding success from start to finish, showcasing the positive change undertaken by the federation over the past year.
Throughout the week, delegates had the opportunity to enjoy an elite, international line-up of speakers and presenters, including CEO of Caesars Interactive Entertainment and Chairman of Cirque du Soleil, Mitch Garber, FEI President, Ingmar De Vos, CEO and Secretary General of the German Equestrian Federation, Soenke Lauterbach, and United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) President, Chrystine Tauber.
If you missed out this year, check out some of the highlights:
Athletes Panel – It Takes a Community to Develop an Athlete, Presented by BMO® Bank of Montreal
On April 22, delegates were invited to come on a journey with high performance equestrian athletes, including:
• Paralympian Ashley Gowanlock from Surrey, BC
• Para-Dressage Young Rider Madison Lawson from King City, ON
• Olympic Eventing rider Robert Stevenson from Lakeside, NB
• High Performance Jumping rider Isabelle Lapierre from Lévis, QC
• High Performance Jumping rider Billie Derouet from Bromont, QC
The athletes spoke candidly about both the highs and lows encountered on the path to elite equestrian sport. In addition, EC Head of Sport Science, Jessica Dilliott and Canadian Dressage Team Mental Performance Coach, Dirk Stroda spoke about the physical and mental demands of high performance sport.
Equestrian Sport Panel – The Future of Sport
Attendees of the Equestrian Sport Panel – The Future of Sport, held April 22, were treated to a presentation by an international panel of speakers, including De Vos, Lauterbach, Tauber, and Sport Canada Director General, Martin Boileau.
De Vos presented delegates with a valuable overview of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Agenda 2020. He also spoke of the need for change within equestrian sport on a global scale in order to improve awareness, increase access, and remain relevant. To cap off his presentation, he showed the video used to launch the FEI’s #TwoHearts campaign, created as part of the build up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and focused on the remarkable relationship between horse and rider.
Lauterbach spoke about the current state of the equestrian industry in Germany, and gave a detailed presentation about the priorities and processes the German Equestrian Federation (FN) has implemented in recent history, and the challenges and successes they have encountered along the way. Key takeaways included:
• Providing athletes with access to education and training from an early age is a top priority for the FN. To address this, a badge system was created and implemented to provide young children with a clear pathway, and encourage lifelong enthusiasm and participation in equestrian sport.
• The FN ensures athletes have access to performance training assistance, including mental coaching and physio.
• Very few news releases are published by the FN. They primarily communicate with their members and media through their website and social media channels.
Best Business Practices for the Equestrian Industry, Presented by Boehringer Ingelheim
To close out the panels on April 23, EC gathered high profile experts to share proven equestrian business practices at all levels, from grassroots to the world stage.
The panel was composed of:
• CEO and President of LBB Consulting Inc., Benoit Girardin (Panel Facilitator)
• CEO of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Charlie Johnstone
• CEO and Secretary General of the German Equestrian Federation, Soenke Lauterbach
• Past FEI Commercial Director, Lisa Lazarus
• Ontario Equestrian Federation President and co-owner of Oakhurst Farm, Mark Nelson
Here is just a small sample of the many takeaways delegates enjoyed:
“It’s important that when you go out to corporate or individual sponsors that you convey something that’s really authentic that they can latch onto and understand. People love horses; they love that connection, they love watching animals. We need to connect that passion of getting on a pony for the very first time to leading to investments and supporting our sport.”
– Lisa Lazarus
“What I learned in eventing is that it’s all about starting off and getting your feet wet and then going and doing the job that you need to get done. It’s remarkable that those skills that I needed as a high performance athlete are the same skills that I now need running my own business.”
– Mark Nelson
“We are fortunate enough to work in an industry, that by its very nature, inherently facilitates an emotional connection – to the horse, the athlete, the event, the stable, the coach, the trainer, the groom, etc. It’s this level of emotional connection that differentiates equestrian sport from others.”
– Charlie Johnstone
2016 EC Awards Gala & Grand Unveiling of the New EC Brand
On April 22, the 2016 EC Awards Gala took place at Montreal’s iconic Dalhousie Station, home to Cirque Éloize. This black tie event honoured the 2015 EC Award recipients, and also hosted the grand unveiling of the new EC brand, giving attendees the exclusive opportunity to see the new brand first-hand before the official launch in June 2016. For a full list of award winners, visit the EC website.
Reflecting on the success of the 2016 EC Annual Convention, CEO Eva Havaris stated, “I feel we have taken a huge step as a community over the past year, and the evidence was clear at this year’s Convention. It was obvious in the sessions that people were walking in with an open mind to come together as a community and start having the necessary dialogue and the conversation to move forward together. We have the passion, we have the heart. You could feel it in every room, and I felt it every day of the Convention. I can’t wait for next year.”