On January 10, 2015, at the 33rd annual Horse Breeders and Owners Conference, the Horse Industry Association of Alberta (HIAA) proudly presented the Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Wayne Burwash in recognition of his lasting influence and contributions to the equine industry in the province.
Dr. Burwash grew up on a mixed dairy farm in Balzac, Alberta. He graduated with distinction from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) from their first graduating class in 1969 and, after an internship, joined The Animal Clinic in 1970. Early in his career, he was the first to do Commercial Embryo Transfer in Canada with Bob Church from the University of Calgary. In 1977, the clinic split up from being a mixed practice and Dr. Burwash decided to open his own clinic specializing in equine: Burwash Equine Services.
Along with his clinical duties at the practice, he served as a mentor for other veterinarians including Dr. Claude Piche, who is now a leading diabetes researcher in humans and Dr. Gayle Trotter, who was the head of surgery at Colorado State University. Since 1980, Dr. Burwash has been the President Veterinary Commission of all international competitions at Spruce Meadows. His success as a veterinarian has led to accolades such as being named Veterinarian of the Year by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association in 2000 and the Communicators Award in 2004. Burwash Equine Services have been a part of the Distributed Veterinary Learning Community with the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine since its inception.
However, his leadership in the Alberta horse industry is not limited to the veterinary profession. Dr. Burwash was a founder of the Alberta Quarter Horse Breeders Group, helping to establish quality horse sales locally as well as internationally by marketing Alberta-bred horses to Europe. As a producer of American Quarter Horses for over four decades, he has been a leading breeder for the Alberta Horse Improvement Program, breeding champions such as Kilomax, Lopin Foran Invite, and Soo Good. Dr. Burwash has served on the executive and on numerous committees, within leading organizations such as the AQHA, ABVMA, Equine Canada, FEI, AAEP, and at the local equine colleges. He has demonstrated exemplary leadership in equine welfare, breed improvement, and research.
HIAA President, Jean Kruse, states, “Dr. Wayne Burwash truly fits the definition of what it means to offer distinguished service. His contributions to the equine industry past and present have not just been based in Alberta but globally. I’m thrilled that he was chosen as this year’s recipient and is definitely a worthy member of this exclusive club.”
The first Alberta Horse Industry Distinguished Service Award was presented at the 2000 Horse Breeders and Owners Conference to Bill Collins. Since then the outstanding recipients have included: 2001 – Marg and Ron Southern; 2002 – Hans Hansma; 2003 – Joe Selinger; 2004 – Bruce Roy; 2005 – Dave Robson; 2006 – Dr. David Reid; 2007 – John Scott; 2008 – Doug Milligan; and in 2009 – Eldon Bienert and Peggy McDonald.
Nominations are accepted annually and given on merit of the nominations; candidates are evaluated based on significance of accomplishments, public benefit, industry credibility, and potential for continued contributions. The award is be presented to the nominee that has had the greatest impact on the growth and development of the horse industry in Alberta in one or more of the following areas: breeding, manufacturing, facilities, organization, education, auction sales, export sales, training people and horses, or communication.