Ky. Equine Youth Festival Celebrates the Horse

Ky. Equine Youth Festival Celebrates the Horse

One opportunity for attendees was an educational session about equine dentistry.

Photo: Matt Barton/UK Agricultural Communications

More than 2,500 school-aged children attended the 2013 Kentucky Equine Youth Festival, Celebrating the Horse, held March 27 at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Alltech Arena.

Hailing from 46 Kentucky counties and two neighboring states, participants ranged in age from 4 to 18. The event featured several horse breeds that demonstrated equestrian sport in a variety of disciplines, including jumping, stock horse versatility, vaulting, driving, Arabian Horse versatility, and gaited breeds, including those native to Kentucky. Other educational opportunities included up-close-and-personal sessions about vaulting, horse dentistry, therapy horses, size comparisons of different breeds, and biomechanics of jockeys and racehorses.

“This year’s festival was an educational and rewarding experience," said Jimmy Henning, PhD, associate dean for extension and director of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. "The UK College of Agriculture was happy to join with our partner organizations in celebrating two of Kentucky’s signature assets, the horse and our youth. We are happy to have been a part of this special day at the Kentucky Horse Park, as well as every day and across the state through our 4-H equine programs at our county extension offices.”

This year’s festival built upon the first one held in 2010, where children packed the venue to watch world-renowned elite equestrian athletes demonstrate the World Equestrian Games' disciplines.

New this year was an art contest with the theme, “What Horses Mean to Kentucky.” Winners were revealed during the event, and bookmarks featuring the winning art were distributed to all participants.

The Kentucky 4-H Horse Program staged the event in conjunction with the University of Kentucky’s Ag Equine Programs and in partnership with the Equine Academy at Lexington Catholic High School, Equine Land Conservation Resource, Kentucky Department of Education, Kentucky Equine Education Project, Kentucky Horse Council, Kentucky Horse Park, Midway College, United States Equestrian Federation, and the United States Pony Clubs.

The event’s major sponsors included the Bluegrass Palomino Horse Association, North American Equine Ranching Information Council, Race for Education, United States Equestrian Federation, and the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program.

Holly Wiemers, MA, is communications director for UK Ag Equine Programs.

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