Vet students promote equine health to riders

Cheryl Malin

Veterinary student Cheryl Malin describes the anatomy of a horse’s head to a young Pony Club member at the 2012 WCVM Equine Educational Day. Photo: Myrna MacDonald.

Members of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Equine Club are gearing up to host hundreds of young horse enthusiasts during the club’s annual 4-H and Pony Club Educational Day in late January.

The day-long event, which has become a “must-attend” for many 4-H and Pony Clubs across Saskatchewan, will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the WCVM on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

The young riders’ instructors for the day are WCVM veterinary students who are members of the veterinary college’s Equine Club — a student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (SCAAEP).

Many of the veterinary students are also former 4-H and Pony Club members so they’re familiar with the types of horse health questions and activities that young riders learn about in their programs.

Maria Fuchs, the event’s chair, says the veterinary students strive to cover current areas of interest in Western Canada’s equine industry. But she adds that the WCVM Equine Club is careful to design an educational day that fits its audience’s needs and age ranges.

Kristin Zajaczkowski

Veterinary student Kristin Zajaczkowski reviews the organs of a horse with a group of young students. Photo: Myrna MacDonald.

“Most of the talks and activities tie back to equine medicine and horse health in some way — but we try to make every session as interesting and as useful as possible for the 4-H and Pony Club members,” explains Fuchs, a third-year veterinary student at the WCVM.

“For example, emphasis is placed on things the kids would actually use such as first aid, the importance of nutrition and how to feed their horses, lameness and parasites.”

Fuchs adds that the day will include hands-on activities for all ages including anatomy labs for both intermediate and advanced 4-H and Pony Club members. The advanced group will also have the chance to tour through the WCVM’s Large Animal Clinic and the newly-expanded Ryan/Dubé Equine Performance Centre (EPC) that was completed this fall.

“We always encourage all ages to attend,” says Fuchs. “We really enjoy working with the younger groups, and we find the activities that we can do with them very enjoyable. Everyone always has fun planning the activites and teaching the kids during the educational day.”

Here’s a brief outline of sessions/activities for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders:


  • For beginner horse enthusiasts, the WCVM Equine Club is planning a variety of fun activities including a relay race and interactive sessions on equine nutrition and health, horse markings and colours, horse and rider safety, horse behaviour and horse trivia. “All beginner stations will incorporate useful information with a hands-on activity to keep things interesting for the younger riders,” says Fuchs.


  • For intermediate riders, veterinary students are planning three morning presentations on first aid, lumps and bumps and lameness, and nutrition. During the afternoon, the 4-H and Pony Club members will participate in three labs covering parasitology (presentation and demonstration), horse trivia and anatomy.


  • Advanced riders will spend their morning learning about equine anatomy and equine medicine. During the afternoon, the groups will take a tour of the WCVM’s Large Animal Clinic and the Ryan/Dubé Equine Performance Centre. They’ll also take part in talks on equine infectious anemia, rabies, and reproduction and genetic defects.

All age groups will be split into smaller groups so 4-H and Pony Club members will get a chance to ask lots of questions and get more out of each presentation and activity.

Pilar Peterson

WCVM student Pilar Peterson talks about equine dentistry with a group of young equine riders at the 2012 WCVM Equine Educational Day. Photo: Myrna MacDonald.

“We’re really working to make this year more interactive and hope that everyone will leave feeling that they learned at least one new thing,” says Fuchs. “We try to have new talks every year so all of the people who return year after year have a chance to gain more information.”

As for members of the WCVM Equine Club, Fuchs and her classmates really enjoy organizing the day for young horse enthusiasts. “It gives us a chance to share our knowledge and passion for horses and the industry with the youth of Saskatchewan,” says Fuchs.

“Plus, we often meet young students who are very interested in veterinary medicine and this day gives them a look into the college that they wouldn’t get to see for several years. It’s nice for us to be able to help them figure out if they want to work towards becoming a veterinarian.”

Since attendance is limited, Fuchs encourages 4-H and Pony Clubs to register before or by January 18, 2013. The cost is $20 per member and $10 for chaperones (fee includes lunch). For more information, download copies of the educational day brochure and the registration form.

Completed forms and cheques can be sent to: WCVM Equine Club, c/o Maria Fuchs, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5B4. Questions? Please contact Maria Fuchs (306-536-8008).


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