EQUINE NEWS

EquiMania! 2007 – A Hit with Kids of all Ages!November 2007

Equine Guelph Educational Exhibit a Big Draw at Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

From wee tots to keen teens to curious adults, the EquiMania! exhibit, back by popular demand at the 2007 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, offered fun learning for all. Sponsored by the Ontario Harness Horse Association and System Fencing and presented by Equine Guelph (University of Guelph), EquiMania! is an interactive youth education program designed to promote horse health and safety to horse enthusiasts of all ages and disciplines.

Housed adjacent to the Ricoh Coliseum and occupying the entire 100' X 120' space in the Upper West Annex, the 2007 edition of EquiMania! spotlighted barn safety through the interactive activity 'Hazard Hunt in the Horse's House.' In an actual barn setting, supplied by System Fencing, visitors went on a scavenger hunt searching for 10 safety hazards located in the mock stalls and alleyways.

"This new safety component was a huge educational success," says Gayle Ecker, senior manager of Equine Guelph. "I watched parents and children of all ages spending up to ½ hour searching for safety hazards in the barn. It is very rewarding to observe people of all ages having fun and learning at the same time. The support of the Ontario Harness Horse Association and System Fencing has been instrumental in helping to develop this new safety display."

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Wee Tots:
While weary parents sat down for a break, their little ones engaged in creating horse-face masks – with the option of pointing the horse's ears forwards or backwards – thus learning about the behavioural differences between a 'happy' and 'sad' horse. They coloured and molded clay while learning the different colours of horses. Some children rode ‘Shorty’, a mount-able horse replica while others participated in 'Hoof Beats', a group activity using instruments to make the sounds of horses' hooves.

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Keen 'Tweens' and Teens:
After completing the Hazard Hunt, teens engaged in many more interactive activities: braiding a horse's tail, learning how to bandage a horse's legs, identifying horse bones (and discovering that horses have 210 bones), learning why horses sleep standing up and investigating career opportunities in the equine industry at kiosks offering information on educational programs at Equine Guelph, Kemptville College and the Ontario Veterinary College. On-site computers gave youngsters the opportunity to explore the EquiMania! website for youth.

Curious Adults:
Adults were just as enthusiastic about the EquiMania! exhibit as the kids. They spent time taking in interesting displays such as: equine research, nutrition and anatomy – including a cast of an actual horse skeleton and a life-sized fiberglass horse, named "SeeMore", that reveals the layers of bones, muscles and organs of the horse. In addition, officers with the Toronto Mounted Police Unit were on hand to meet the public and answer questions about a career of service on horseback and selling posters for the Brigadier Memorial Fund.

For the young and the young at heart, every visitor to EquiMania! came away from the educational exhibit learning at the very least one new thing about horses. "Thank you. That was amazing!" exclaims a visitor as he was leaving EquiMania!. "I can’t believe how much I learned here today."

If you missed EquiMania! at the Royal, mark your calendars for March 14-16, 2008 for EquiMania!'s next stop at the Can-Am All Breeds Equine Emporium in London, Ontario.

For more information on the EquiMania! Program

(Photos: Henrietta Coole)

- Henrietta Coole