"Today Is Horse Day. That's Why We're Dressed Like Cowboys"

by: Erin Shea

On Thursday September 9, The Year of the Horse was celebrated at Liberty Elementary School, so Maker's Mark Secretariat Center joined other organizations from Lexington to come teach the children about horses. As the Fall 2010 communications intern, I was asked to come report and photograph the event. I am so glad that I went.

We explained to 750 kids what we do at the Center by comparing it to their school, but instead of subjects like math and science, the horses learn things like dressage, eventing, hunter/jumper and other disciplines. Susanna, who speaks several languages, spoke to them in a foreign language and explained how horses also have a language. Then she taught them how to say "hello" in horse by blowing in their nostrils. We took our two ambassadors, Ferdinand's Star and Fly Lite, who willingly greeted them all which delighted the kids. We discussed how horses see the world, which is different from how humans see it. We flipped up the horses' lips and showed off their racing tattoos, and displayed their big yellowed teeth.

"See what happens if you don't brush your teeth?" said Susanna.

"EWWWWW!! YUCK!!" exclaimed the kids.

Ferdinand's Star and Fly Lite, were used by Rob Spencer, equine podiatrist and farrier, also to teach the students hoof care and how shoes are put on horses. Most of the kids knew little to nothing about horses so we had to start with the basics.

"Look at your feet. Do you all wear the same size shoes?" asked Susanna. "What kind of shoes do you wear to the beach? To go hiking? To play basketball?"

Rob Spencer showed the kids that horses have different shoes for different jobs. And that horses have different size feet, and that shoes are nailed or glued on.

"Do the nails hurt??" the children asked.

It was a great day for the kids but it was also educational and fun for me. Explaining horse nature, horse care and daily procedures in a way that children can understand - simple, clear and logical, made me thing about things I take for granted. Seeing the children laugh and marvel at Ferdy and Fly was wonderful because horses bring me joy too. It was awesome to share my passion with the children at Liberty Elementary School.