Sunday, June 29, 2014 was the first day of the Texas 4-H Equine Ambassador Program. Twenty-two youth from across the state came to learn more about the Equine industry and they jumped right in with Dr. William Zanolini on why they have the 4-H horse project. The youth were challenged to think about both sides of the issue as well as the reason why they have horses and ride them.
The ice-breakers were led by the Equine Ambassador Mentors. The mentors are Equine Ambassadors that have been through the program before and applied to come back to help with this year’s class of Equine Ambassadors. Three were accepted this year and they have been very helpful in relaxing the students as well as helping answer questions and encourage conversation.
One of the activities that we do at the Equine Ambassador Program is assign relevant topics pertaining to the equine industry such as why do we own horses, the ethics behind racing, and horse processing. They youth are divided into five groups of five to research the assigned topics. Part of the challenge is that they are required to source from credible sources such as an .edu site, not wikipedia. This activity encourages research and team building. The students understand from the beginning that after they give their research topics they will be questioned intensively by the staff to better prepare them to truly think through their issues. They were given several hours to study for their research topic Sunday night.
Monday morning they were in a session with Dr. Dennis Sigler on equine nutrition. It is a high level introduction to equine nutrition designed to make the students think about what a horse really requires for the proper nutrition.