Texas A&M University
Equine Initiative Conducts American Quarter Horse Foundation
Seminars in Paraguay & Uruguay
On August 1, 2010, a group of Texas horsemen departed the United
States for South America to conduct a series of seminars in
Paraguay and Uruguay sponsored by the American Quarter Horse
Foundation and the Carl & Caroline Swanson Foundation. Leading
the group was Dr. Jim Heird, Executive Professor & Coordinator
of the Equine Initiative at Texas A&M University. Heird has
been working with the American Quarter Horse Association affiliates
in Paraguay and Uruguay for more than twenty five years to enhance
the American Quarter Horses in South America. Heird serves as an
honorary vice president of the Sociedad Criadores de Cuarto de
Milla (SCCM), the Uruguayan affiliate.
While it was not Heird's first trip to South America, it was his
first trip as an Aggie. Heird joined Texas A&M University in
the fall of 2009 to lead the Equine Initiative. "Simply put," says
Heird, "my job is to help make Texas A&M a national and global
leader in equine research, teaching and outreach."
Joining Heird on the trip from Texas A&M were Dr. Josie
Coverdale, an assistant professor in Animal Science specializing in
Equine Nutrition, and Anna McNaught, the second member of the
Equine Initiative team. Coverdale presented lectures on nutrition
at the three seminars, while McNaught presented information on the
AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse competition.
Coverdale's lectures on nutrition were extremely well-received.
"The attendees asked a lot of great questions and seemed to be
genuinely interested in nutrition," said Coverdale. "Horse people
are horse people, regardless of what language they speak. These
horse people wanted to know more about the best way to feed their
ranch and performance horses."
Rounding out the seminar team were Thomas Saunders and Jordan
Williams of the Saunders Ranch in Weatherford, TX. A fifth
generation rancher and horseman, Saunders presented techniques for
handling and starting young horses. "I love working with the people
at these seminars. They are folks just like me who use their horses
everyday to make a living, and who really want to be better
horsemen," Saunders said.
This year, more than 150 people attended the seminars held in
Asuncion, Paraguay and Salto and Colonia, Uruguay. Funding for the
seminars is provided through the William R. Verdugo International
Horsemanship Camp grant from the American Quarter Horse Foundation.
Additional support was provided through a gift from the Carl &
Caroline Swanson Foundation.
"We are so appreciative of the support we receive which allows
us to conduct these seminars. As part of an increasingly global
industry, we have a responsibility to enhance and improve horses
and horsemanship around the globe," said Heird. "We don't go to
countries like Paraguay and Uruguay to step in and change their
culture. We go to build relationships with horsemen who want the
same things we want - to be better horsemen and do better by our