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With Gratitude

April 27, 2024 we were fortunate  to hear From the Anson Tebbits, Denny Emerson,  Vermont Farm Bureau, Vermont Law School, and Vermont Dept of Tourism & Marketing .

We Learned  About & Discussed

  • How equine businesses fit into the definition of agriculture;
  • Building equine agritourism opportunities;
  • Tools for community trail access;
  • Identifying industry-wide priorities.

Keynote Denny Emerson, Lunch & Networking


The morning after with thanks:

  • That the rain held off until today (Sunday)!
  • That we had such a strong Summit Committee
  • That we had so much support from the VHC Board for logistics
  • That Sue Miller is great at social media
  • That Pam Knights created effective marketing with our grant from Northeast Ag Enhancement
  • That GMHA is an amazing facility run by such committed people
  • That every speaker was spot on
  • That lunch worked out well
  • That so many businesses sponsored this event and provided great table top displays
  • That so many people joined us and shared their knowledge and experience

Keynote Speaker: Denny Emerson

Denny Emerson is the poster child for the Vermont equine industry. His list of accomplishments and the breadth of his knowledge reflect the diversity of the equine community in Vermont. We will welcome Denny back to kick off the 6th Equine Industry Summit with his informative and inspirational keynote address.

Owner of Tamarack Hill Farm in Strafford, Vermont, Denny Emerson is the quintessential all-around horseman. He is the only equestrian to have won both an international gold medal in eventing and a Tevis Cup buckle in endurance. In 1972, Emerson was named United States Eventing Association’s Rider of the Year. He is an author, educator and always both an advocate for and student of the horse. He is a staunch supporter of the Vermont Equine industry and enthusiastically shares his knowledge, observations, and humor through his postings on social media.

Jackie Folsom, Vermont Farm Bureau

Jackie Folsom was elected as president of Vermont Farm Bureau in November 2023.  Previously, she has served as secretary to the Board of Directors, 1st Vice President, Chair of the Women’s Committee and Policy Director.  She has over 30 years of experience working in various agricultural organizations and businesses, including Cabot Creamery.  She and her husband, Roy, operated a small dairy farm in Cabot for 35 years and sold the barn complex five years ago; now they focus on selling round bales to local farmers.

They are the proud parents of a son and daughter and four grandchildren (ranging in age from 26 to 7).

“I think it”s so important when farmers and ag businesses meet together to discuss challenges, issues, differences and similarities and make a commitment to better their industry.”

Nicole Killoran, Vermont Law School

Nicole originally hails from Alaska and Utah, but Vermont is now her home.  She graduated Vermont Law School in 2012.  After graduation, she gained experience in litigation, land use, Act 250, landlord-tenant, property, and bankruptcy law. In 2017, Nicole returned to VLS and today she directs the Small Business Law Clinic and the Vermont Small Business Law Center (f/k/a Entrepreneurial Legal Lab or VLSell) at Vermont Law and Graduate School.

Heather Pelham, Vermont Dept. of Tourism and Marketing

Heather Pelham was appointed to role of Commissioner of the Department of Tourism and Marketing in November of 2019, after serving as the Chief Marketing Officer for the State of Vermont since June 2015. Pelham continues to serve a leadership role with the Chief Marketing Office. Prior to joining state government, Pelham was the managing partner of a central Vermont advertising and design firm, developing brand strategies and integrated marketing campaigns for small business, nonprofit and higher education clients. Also, an accomplished designer, Pelham has 20 years of experience in creative strategy, graphic design, and web development. Pelham is a graduate of Brown University and lives with her family in Randolph Center.

Kelly Grant, The Bunkhouse, Washington, VT

Kelly and her husband have owned The Bunkhouse in Washington, VT since 2014. The Bunkhouse is an equine facility that provides lodging for trail riders and their horses. A lifelong horsewoman and native Vermonter, Kelly received a degree in Equine Science and Management from Morrisville State in NY.  She then went on to work as a trail guide in MT, WY then NC. Next was Gelinas Farm in NH where started horses under saddle and taught lessons using Natural horsemanship principles which she continues today. The Bunkhouse offers year-round lodging, with May-Oct being predominantly a bring your own horse facility. Guests come to stay and trail ride with their own horses while enjoying cozy accommodations for horse and rider.  The Bunkhouse is off-grid, surrounded by remote wilderness trails and able to host clinics and other equine events.

Colleen O'Rourke, Pond Hill Ranch and Rodeo

Born into the horse industry, Colleen has been involved in all aspects of the horse world. Having taken over the family business, Pond Hill Ranch, with her brothers and sisters in 1998, Colleen has been on several local, state, regional, and national horse industry association boards of Directors and related horse industry panels.  Colleen is passionate about horse tourism, and helping Vermont evolve into a strong horse destination is a lifelong goal.

Margot Smithson, UVM Morgan Horse Farm

Margot grew up riding horses and started volunteering at the UVM Morgan Horse Farm while still in high school. Her love of and connection to the Morgan Horse Farm spans two decades. She is passionate about the farm’s history and bloodlines.  She is especially interested in agritourism and her role as Director of the UVM Morgan Horse Farm allows her to promote Morgan horses and the equine industry in Vermont.

Clark Hinsdale, Planning & Permitting Consultant

Clark Hinsdale is an eighth generation Vermonter who has spent his professional career serving his community. Currently the Chair of the Ferrisburgh Selectboard, Clark has also been a member of municipal planning commissions, zoning boards, and state commissions on recreation, housing, and conservation. He also has experience in organizational leadership serving several terms as president of the Farm Bureau, and director of numerous local and state-wide non-profits. As a planning and permitting consultant and a farmer, Clark understands farming, land use, and advocacy.

Partnership and Advocacy

Jackie Folsom, President of the Vermont Farm Bureau will share 2024 legislative priorities. Jackie will “encourage/explain” why participation of equine business owners is critical to the Farm Bureau advocacy process and how to impact the process most effectively.


Professor Nicole Killoran and a panel of students from the Vermont Small Business Law Center at Vermont Law and Graduate School will explore how equine businesses fit into the definition of agriculture in Vermont, including Act 250, zoning, and other legal challenges, and opportunities unique to equine businesses. Time will be reserved for Q&A and discussion is welcome.

Equine Tourism

This panel addresses how to build equine agritourism opportunities in Vermont and beyond. Heather Pelham, Commissioner of the Department of Tourism and Marketing; Kelly Grant of The Bunkhouse, Washington, VT; Colleen O’Rourke of Pond Hill Ranch and Rodeo, Castleton, VT; and Margot Smithson of the UVM Morgan Horse Farm, Weybridge, VT, will participate in this interactive discussion.

Tools for Community Trail Access

Clark Hinsdale has held numerous positions in community and organizational leadership. He’ll share what he’s learned about working within municipal and state systems to obtain and maintain equine access to community lands in Vermont.

Industry Roundtable Discussion

This facilitated discussion will identify industry priorities and consider how to develop an industry-wide system that will improve communication within our industry.

Vermont Economic Development Authority

The Dorset Equine Rescue

Centerline Farm

Rutland, VT (802-855-0899) or follow on FB

Bookends Farm

Cold Hollow Hoof Care

Strafford Saddlery, LLC

Reinbow Riding Center

Dark Horse Realty

The Pyle Agency, Inc.

Green Mountain Pet and Tack

Saddle up and join us!

Get your tickets today for the 2024 Vermont Horse Council Summit

Register Today!