Education--A Continual Process

 When we formed the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance almost two years ago, we knew that it needed to be as much as about education and best practice sharing as it was about accreditation.  I’m proud to report that, yesterday at Keeneland, the Alliance held its inaugural Professional Education Seminar.  Thanks in great measure to the cooperation of an outstanding group of presenters, our Seminar showed that not only is a continuing education program for horse racing feasible, but that it can be executed with virtually no cost to the industry through sponsorship, webcasting and the donation of time by experts whose collective wisdom was priceless.
The seminar was a one-day, continuing education event covering a wide range of topics relating to the health and safety of equine and human athletes competing in horseracing.   It was a great day for learning about how to properly care for Thoroughbreds before, during, and after their careers as racehorses.  It was also a great day for learning about how to protect jockeys from injury and provide the best possible medical care in the event of a racing accident.  
Other areas covered included nutrition, pre-race examinations, medication and testing, trainer continuing education, when to retire a racehorse and updates on laminitis research.  Attendees were treated to thoughtful presentations from the likes of Dr. James Orsini, Dr. Mick Peterson, Dr. Tom Daugherty, Dr. Mary Scollay, Dr. Rick Sams, Dr. Reid McLellan, Dr. Rob Holland of Pfizer Animal Health, and Dr. Randal Raub of Purina—people who work every day to address some of the most difficult safety and integrity challenges our industry faces.  
Those who came looking for another seminar filled with industry insiders lecturing one another about all that is wrong with racing were no doubt disappointed.  This was a collection of folks who were there to learn and develop their day-to-days skills in dealing with things like caring for retired racehorses, learning advances in hoof care, and sharing of best practices concerning human medical care at the track.  The audience included trainers, owners, grooms, racetrack medical personnel, racetrack vets, farriers, regulators and racehorse retirement/retraining people.  I saw lots of note taking and active engagement with speakers.  I also saw a lot of networking as people from around the country discovered others who shared their passion or understood their challenges.
Personally, I was fascinated by the topics and speakers.  It was a rare chance to hear professionals speak passionately about what is really happening in the trenches where many good, smart people tackle tough issues honestly and energetically.  We don’t hear enough from this hands-on segment of our industry – the regulators, medical personnel and actual horse handlers - which is a shame because they have lots to teach us.  
Best of all, thanks to the generosity of the good people at Pfizer Animal Health and Keeneland, the entire event was free of charge and open to anyone who was interested in the topics.  Keeneland even helped us live stream the trainer education portion of the seminar.  I was pleasantly surprised this morning to learn that the live Webcast was viewed by racetrack professionals from as far away as the Caribbean.  All of the day’s courses were recorded by Keeneland staff, and they will soon be available for viewing at and also on DVD.  If you are a trainer, track medical director, regulatory or association veterinarian, farrier, racing official, aftercare organization representative or just plain interested in one or more of the topics, and you missed this inaugural event, take a look once the tapes are up on our Website, and see what you think.  Then mark your calendar for next year.      
If you attended or if you have seen the agenda, tell us what you thought about the event.  What worked and what didn’t?  What topics would you like to see covered in our next educational seminar?  Let me hear from you.

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