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 horses."

Uruguay August 2010 Last Day 172

© 2012 All rights reserved, Texas A&M University Trademark - Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843