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My weekend at the Horses Inside Out Conference 2024

I couldn’t believe it when the weekend of the 2024 Horses Inside Out conference arrived in February. Where has the last year gone?


I had been looking forward to the conference as I have been laid up with a back injury for a few months and this was my first proper outing, I knew the line up of speakers was going to be incredible and this year the anatomy exhibition was going to be bigger then ever. That along with the opportunity the conference brings to catch up with my peers and friends and to meet new ones, I had been practically focusing my rehab from injury so that I would be fit enough to attend!


I was on light duties this year, with my job being to man the book stand between speakers. Which I loved as it gives the opportunity to speak to so many of the conference attendees as well as recommend the Horses Inside Out books & courses that would best suit their needs.


Here I am on my pitch..


The conference was a sell out this year with physical attendees and there was also a huge live steam audience from around the globe. There was a real buzz in the lecture hall as Gillian Higgins opened the conference.

This year’s theme was Growth & Development. The journey of the horse from foal to full grown and everything in between.


I would love to share with you all every detail of each of the lectures over the 2 days, but that would be a lot of blogs. However I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you some of the key points that hit home with me from each day.


Day one began with Nic De Brauwere, an expert in equine welfare. Among other things he discussed the danger of anthropomorphism when it comes to caring for horses, and understanding that their needs are not the same as our own. He also talked about how 60% of the signals we give our horses are confusing for them, and how incredible it is that horses can understand what we want from them at all. One of the key things he said that stuck with me was ‘Just because it works, it doesn’t mean it’s humane, ethical, correct or good welfare’


After Nic we heard from Dr. Sue Dyson on the subject of whether performance & longevity can be predicted by assessment of conformation? Those that are familiar with Sue will know her work is very research based.


I made ALOT of notes in this talk, but here are some of my key ones:

  • static conformation does not necessarily affect dynamic limb loading

  • Tall horses are more at risk of injury & shorter competitive lives

  • Horses don’t read the text books, asymmetry doesn’t always mean lameness

  • There is a link between large hock angles and PSD (proximal suspensory desmitis) - Sue’s advice was to not buy a horse with a large hock angle!

  • There is a link between the tuber sacrale being higher that the wither and sacroiliac region pain - Sue’s advice was to not buy a horse with tuber sacrale higher than the wither

  • There is lots that is not known about the relationship between some poor conformational traits & long term soundness - some horses seem innately prone to injury and vice versa


The next lecture that I made lots of notes in was from Dr Sebastian Mcbride, who is a lecturer in Biological Sciences. He was talking about Clinical Depression in Horses.


He has developed a way of measuring signs of depression in horses and created a way to diagnose clinical depression be monitoring for 5 signs over 14 days. If the horse demonstrates the 5 signs every day for 14 days, he would diagnose them as clinically depressed. the signs are:


  1. Depressed mood

  2. Loss of pleasure / anhedonia

  3. Sleep (in horses REM sleep can be measured through time spend in recumbancy, REM increases with depression)

  4. Psychomotor disturbances

  5. Diminished ability to think, concentrate or indecisiveness


I thought this was very interesting and something that is worth educating more horse owners on in order for them to recognise these symptoms in horses in their care, so that they can then be proactive about finding ways to help the horse out of that state. I think we will be hearing a lot more about this in the future as horse welfare becomes even more of a prevalent topic.


There was much more to the first day, including lectures from Dr. Russell Mackechnie-Guire & Intelligent Horsemanship founder Kelly Marks. As well as some pre recorded videos in the lunch break that could be viewed. You can catch up with all of these by purchasing access to recordings of the conference lectures on the Horses Inside Out website.


As the day of lectures came to an end it was time for a quick wash & change and I was lucky enough to be joined by my husband for the gala dinner evening.


It was a great evening with delicious food, a glass of wine or 2 and a really great after dinner speech from Eventing Team GB vet Liz Brown. She shared some brilliant stories from behind the scenes at the Tokyo Olympics with the equestrian teams, as well as some fascinating information about how the horses travel by aircraft across the continents and the preparation and work that goes into looking after them.


If you get the chance to go to the next Horses Inside Out conference in 2026, make sure you don’t miss out on a seat at the Gala dinner, it is well worth it.


Then it was on to Day 2, which began with one of my favourite speakers, Dr. Chris Pearce. Veterinary Surgeon & Dental Specialist. I have heard Chris speak a few times now, at the previous HIO conferences, on the HIO Get Ahead Seminar and he is also works on my own horse and some of my client’s horses. He is extremely knowledgeable in his field and an excellent speaker. His lecture was Dentistry in the young horse - The relation to starting ridden work.


I know very little about teeth, being an Equine Massage therapist I am familiar with aspects of the anatomy of the horse’s mouth but I learnt so much from this lecture.

Here are some of my key notes:

  • Horse’s teeth have enamel under the gum line, all the way to the apex. Humans, dogs, cats etc. do not have enamel under the gum line

  • The Equine teeth are most rapidly developing between the ages of 2-5 years

  • Tooth eruption numbs should be symmetrical and not painful

  • Craniofacial disorders should be checked for at the post foaling check


I next wanted to share with the subject of Dr. Sue Dyson’s second lecture at the conference, this time focussing on what seems to be a hot topic in the equine world at the moment. The lecture was titled ‘Do Developmental Abnormalities of the Cervical Vertebra Predispose to Neck pain, Neck stiffness, Forelimb Lameness or Ataxia’


A big topic and in true Sue style she took it on with lots of research to back up her findings, and my recommendation would be to purchase access to watch the recording of this lecture, as I think many will find it very interesting indeed!


I was excited to see Dr. Simon Curtis speak next. I was ‘fan girling’ a bit as I have listened to all of his podcasts over the last few years whilst driving between clients.


I am not a hoof care practitioner but I do really enjoy listening to him talk to farriers from all over the world, hearing their life journeys and stories, it really is a brilliant listen.

So of course I had to get a selfie with him!


Simon’s lecture at the conference was about Farrier Correction for Mediolateral Deformities in foals.


It was a really interesting talk, and not something I know very much about. I made lots of notes though, some you may like to see:

  • New born foals renew their feet on average every 145 days

  • Yearlings - 283 days

  • Mature horses - 1 year

  • A foal’s hoof is growing 4x as fast as his mum’s

  • All foals are born with perfectly conformed hooves, but they quickly distort due to conformation

  • Foals should be trimmed from 4 weeks of age, every 4 weeks, this needs to become the norm across all industries & breeds So, that concludes most of the key notes I made across the weekend, although there was sooo much more. On day 2 there were also lectures from Prof. Meriel Moore Colyer on Feeding for the future, and more pre recorded videos from Dressage rider Laura Tomlinson on Progressing young horses for longevity and a tour of the WOW Saddles factory.


You probably notice I haven’t even mentioned the Anatomy Exhibition - that was in my last blog so do check it out if you haven't seen it already.


I hope you enjoyed the Horses Inside Out Conference 2024 from my perspective.

I hope to see you at the next one in 2026 which is set to be even bigger and better!


Jess

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