Local youths gain horse knowledge at "Youth EquiDay"

CHAZY The 25 registered Morgan horses at the William H. Miner Institutes Hearts Delight Farm recently had an abundance of admirers. More than 70 area youths, with the addition of many parents and group leaders, gathered to take part in the institutes Youth EquiDay Nov. 3, a program that has traditionally been held the first Saturday in November for about 20 years. The program was free and open to all area youth, though the vast majority were members of Clinton County 4-H programs. The purpose of the program is to help youth understand more about their horses health and happiness so they can get more out to their relationship with their horse, said Karen Lassell, Miners equine manager since 1991. The program is in keeping with the focus of the farm, which strives to keep founder William H. Miners vision of improving the quality of life in the North Country through education. The horse program is relatively new, having its inception in the early 1980s. It was decided at that time to follow the pattern Mr. Miner began with the dairy program, raising only one type of purebred registered cows Holsteins. Since Miner owned and drove Morgans, they became the breed of choice for the horse program. The staff trains, breaks and breeds the Morgan horses, and uses them for educational purposes. The bulk of the educational opportunities are offered to college students who are majoring in an equine program and have completed their junior year. Twice a year, however, the Morgans are used to educate the general public in the Youth Equiday and an Equiday for adults. Ms. Lassell develops the Equiday educational programs. Last Saturdays program began around 10 a.m. and was composed of three sessions: The Horses Hoof, Learn to be a Stall Sleuth, and Basic Steps to Training a Horse to Drive. Intern Ryan Brooks, who graduated from Virginia Tech this past spring, taught the youth all about the hoof. With the help of Miner employee Adrianne Melis, and a three-year-old filly, Petrie, the first successful embryo transfer born at the farm, Mr. Brooks taught the children about the structure of the hoof and lower leg and covered many of the pathologies of the foot and hoof. He even showed them another use for that handy duct tape by demonstrating how to wrap an abscess in the hoof with it. Ms. Lassell lead the stall sleuth session, stressing the importance of daily observation of a horses stall for safety issues and for clues about the horses overall health. Many students even donned plastic gloves and poked at the manure in the stalls for clues to the horses health. In the final session, Ms. Lassell, Ms. Melis and Mr. Brooks worked together with three-year-old filly Pixie to demonstrate the steps in training a horse to drive. The lesson also included valuable information about the different types and uses of driving tack. The program ended around 12:30 p.m. and the youth headed home with a wealth of knowledge that, when put into practice, will enhance their future relationships with their horses.

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