University of Calgary

Horse Health Day

UToday HomeDecember 5, 2012

Veterinary medicine student Becky Bezugley instructs young visitors as they work on a horse simulator during Horse Health Day. Photo by Bronwyn AtkinsonVeterinary medicine student Becky Bezugley instructs young visitors as they work on a horse simulator during Horse Health Day. Photo by Bronwyn AtkinsonMore than 50 people — from 10-year old girls to experienced horse owners — turned out for the first Horse Health Day held by the equine student club in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine on Nov. 17.

The club, the local student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), organized a full day of activities that began with lectures in the morning, and ended with a number of hands-on experiences in the afternoon, including how to vaccinate an orange.

“We gave all the kids a needle and a syringe and they were injecting oranges with saline, while we talked about locations for vaccines and that sort of thing,” says Eiry Spence, a third-year veterinary medicine student who helped put the event together along with Kirsten Riphagen and other students in the equine club.

“We had another station where you got to look at parasites so they could see if the horse had worms, and we had a bandaging station where they could practice different bandage wraps,” says Spence.

The participants learned about different muscle groups in horses and various massage techniques they could use on the animals. They also got to practice with horse simulators, where they were able to take a horse’s temperature, listen to its heart rate and look inside the life-like model to see how the intestines fit together.

“We had everybody fill out a feedback form at the end of the day and everyone loved the hands-on stuff in the afternoon; it was a real riot,” says Spence. “At the same time, there was a lot of advanced material, so even the people who’ve had horses for a long time were really happy with it because they took something home.”

Emma Read, senior instructor in clinical skills, lectured about colic — from the basics including how to identify it correctly to what happens from an equine surgeon’s perspective. ”There was information that you are not necessarily going to see as an owner,” says Spence.

The club raised almost $1,000 for the AAEP Foundation, which supports equine welfare initiatives, student education and horse research around the world.

“I am very proud of the job they did in putting this on,” says Read. “They charged a nominal fee, provided a great day of education and a good lunch, and got many young women excited about veterinary medicine as a career.”