It’s hard to find and initiative – or movement – more energizing than the Women’s Horse Industry Association. Granted, this is a niche group founded on fostering individual business prosperity, but you won’t find a group of women more focused on collaboration and support toward long-term visionary strategies.

Two weeks ago the first Conference of the Canadian Chapter was held in Toronto. I made the trip to serve as the global headquarter liaison and as such, provided opening remarks (and a lot of manpower hours throughout the weekend supporting event activities). Last May, I was in Louisville, KY as a panel speaker for the second annual event in the U.S. This was not only a great opportunity to promote the Horse Sense and Cents initiatives and sell some series books, but also an unexpected boost for Halcyon Acres in the contacts and promotional opportunities discovered while talking to and connecting with attendees. The character and caliber of the women (and men) at both these events had me charged for the duration of the Conference(s) and giddy thinking about possibilities, opportunities and new friendships forged on the drive home.

Horse business fun is easy to find: meet the volunteer organizers

It’s always the people that make such events special. The volunteer team that led this premiere engagement set the tone for attendees. We laughed a lot.

The comical scenarios began before the event when an exhibitor showed up with a 700 LB horse (it might have been easier getting him into the place if he was live – he wasn’t). Kathryn Hendriks was on it. By the time he arrived in the basement (cleverly labeled the ballroom on the guest elevators – much too small for this large horse to fit into), Kathryn had commandeered a kitchen elevator and a good number of the culinary crew. (Meeting Kathryn makes you realize the idea of her trouping through employee only areas without invite – forget about the trotting/cantering horse model and vendor owner she brought with her – isn’t outlandish.) So, this beast was delivered to the trade show floor destination with fine dining help and set up masterfully by the kitchen staff she met and recruited along the way.

John Allan served as MC (and also representative of the title sponsor, Redstone Media Group and was a hoot. His Irish blood showed through as he incorporated humor into every segment of the event.

Lucie Burdon-Sereda (with super help from her lovely, charming daughter Lauren, fondly referred to as “mini me”), was responsible for pulling the team together, organizing the event, recruiting vendors, attendees, speakers and ideas and even managed to model clothes during the fashion shows.

Of course, this event would not have been possible without the effort, support and hard work handled remotely by Catherine Masters, executive director of WHIA global and Debby Lening, vice president from headquarters.

There’s something about an event where laughter is prevalent that makes the heart sing and creative juices flow. From the scheduled activities, though evening gatherings for dinner and drinks until late hours of echoes through the halls as we retreated into hotel rooms, this gathering was fun and funny for all. Lucrative too.

Equine professionals unite

Some of the impressive outcomes when gatherings occur with members from this group are the camaraderie that develops, business relationships that are built and the interest in and desire for what others are selling. Anyone who spent a little bit of time reaching out walked away with new clients and great contacts. It’s the future, though, that holds the greatest possibilities.

This premiere WHIA Canadian Conference was one of the most impressive first-time ventures I’ve ever attended – and a lot more engaging, productive and friendly than many long-standing national gatherings I’ve been involved in. If you have an interest in equines, this group is worth checking out. Take the time, though to attend a conference if you really want to connect in a meaningful, memorable and long-term way. Whether you’re in Canada or the US, if you’re interested in building relationships to foster business prosperity or cause awareness, this may be the best group out there yet.

Conference attendees (US or Canada) – please share your experience in the comments below. And feel free to use this space to connect across borders too. If you haven’t been to a conference, share anyway. This is a group that’s thrilled about getting to know one another and figuring out how they can help. Not a member (it’s $50)? You’re welcome to join the party here too. Enjoy and excite in the energy.

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