MORRISVILLE, NY — Filmmaker George Lucas once said, “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” The reality in Madison County, New York is that the equine industry is an important asset to the area and to out-of-state residents. With this topic in mind, 30 people came together to collaborate on the first equine focus group that charts a path to future endeavors for all horse disciplines.
“The purpose of the group was to provide opportunities to talk about current and pressing topics and needs in a collaborative environment that cuts through discipline or breed preferences. People involved with horses will see each other at shows, events and activities but rarely have opportunities to really sit across from one another and talk about issues,” said Madison County Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director and avid horse expert, Dr. Karin Bump.
“Often times we have these silos that create barriers and separate us when we really should be joining together. In addition to creating a forum for discussion, this new initiative is also a way for us at CCE to know what kinds of educational programming our community wants and needs. Cornell has an amazing body of knowledge to share but before we set a program up it would be helpful to know that we already have an audience and it’s even better when that audience feels their input is valued,” said Bump.
Issues that garnered the most attention centered on getting youth more involved with horses through 4-H and bolstering programs at the county fair, educational equine forums for all disciplines, access to horses and land, and promotion of the horse trail system throughout the county. Barriers such as competition for adult and children’s time from other activities and funding for educational events were identified along with who could devote time to this venture and outreach possibilities.
“The feedback has been really great so far with lots of wonderful energy and ideas. Madison County is a hidden gem for horse lovers. It’s time to uncover all the positive opportunities and share with all our friends,” said Dr. Bump.