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By Mark Boxley
For many area school children, the Kid Zone at this weekend’s Alltech National Horse Show was the first up-close experience they’ve had with the horse industry. And because of that, organizers were determined to make it memorable.
“The idea behind the Kid Zone is to get kids interested in agriculture,” said Alltech strategic partnership manager Elizabeth Bagby.
Thousands of kids — 2,300 to be exact — came to the Kid Zone from area schools. They interacted with exhibits ranging from horse healthcare mockups (including a staged operating room and prenatal care stall) to a jumping course where kids acted out the different equestrian gaits.
To cap it all off, kids were able to leave their own mark on the Zone by writing, or drawing, something on a giant board at the front of the exhibit space.
“This we just thought would be a fun way to engage the kids,” Bagby said.
Joy Williams, a math teacher at Winburn Middle School in Lexington, said many of her kids had never experienced anything like the National Horse Show.
“For a lot of these kids, it’s an intro to the equine industry,” she said.
Math and science “go hand in hand,” so there would definitely be a lot of discussion about the lessons learned at the Kid Zone once back at school, Williams said.
“It has been just a really great learning experience for the kids,” she said.
Along with learning about horses and the equine industry, the trip to the National Horse Show allowed the students to meet different people from around the country and world, which was just as important.
“It has allowed them to experience another culture,” Williams said.
That culture is something organizers want the kids to understand, but also realize they can be a part of it.
“There are lots of opportunities to get involved with horses,” said National Horse Show project coordinator Ariel Weisman.
The most important thing to the staff setting up the Kid Zone was to make sure there was something for everyone.
“(The Kid Zone) is something people who don’t know anything about horses can enjoy,” she said.
The most popular exhibit at the Kid Zone so far was the wall, which has “been a big hit,” Weisman said.
At the end of the day if they walk (or trot) away with anything, Williams wants her kids, and the other students who came to the National Horse Show, to better understand “the impact that the horse industry has, not only on the region, but the state and the country.”
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