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Veterinary student Samantha Deamel. Photo: Christina Weese.

Vet students help Equine Expo gallop along

When it comes to the equine care available at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), clinicians have access to many advanced technologies and tools that allow them to provide cutting edge care.

While those who work with them daily are familiar with them, many horse owners don't get a chance to see these tools in action unless their animal is sick. Each year the Saskatchewan Equine Expo presents a chance to take some of these tools out of the college's Veterinary Medical Centre (VMC), allowing faculty, staff and students to share what makes the WCVM such a valuable resource to Western Canada's equine industry.

"People really want to learn about the best way of helping their horse stay healthy," says Samantha Deamel, a third-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) student and president of the WCVM Equine Club. "Education is really ingrained in the horse community."

Horse owners and enthusiasts of all ages get to see what the WCVM's equine program is all about through demonstrations, talks and displays – providing valuable information for those who are seasoned veterans of the horse industry or for those who are considering their first horse.

"In general, it's an opportunity for horse people to get together. It promotes the horse industry within Saskatchewan, and as a college, it's a chance to connect with the people who own horses or who might own horses," says Dr. Stephen Manning, head of the VMC's field service section and an associate professor in the WCVM's Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.

The sixth annual Saskatchewan Equine Expo took place from Feb. 16 to 19 at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon. The four-day event attracted more than 11,500 visitors who were eager to learn more about horses.

Each year WCVM veterinary students are an important part of the event. They help set up events and demonstrations, and spend time answering questions at the equine education area that's shared by the WCVM and the Saskatchewan Horse Federation (SHF). This is the second year of the partnership, and this year, the theme will focus on travelling with your horse.

"Where the students really shine is in the booth, interacting with kids and the public," says Manning. "They're very good ambassadors."

For both Deamel and her classmate Jillian Russnak, seeing the excitement of young people who are eager to learn about veterinary medicine and horses is the highlight of the event.

"The kids get so excited," says Russnak, who organized the WCVM students' efforts for the 2017 Equine Expo. "I think it's really good for the youth of the horse world. There's a lot of opportunities for learning. This is the new generation of horse people."

While they answer plenty of questions about what it's like to be a veterinarian in training, the students also say it's a good chance to put the information they're learning into practice before they're actually in practice.

"I felt like it was a really good way to practise communicating with people. It practises your people skills and I think it's a lot of fun," says Deamel. "I think it's a really good way to break down the walls between veterinarians and owners. It puts people on the same level and develops those relationships …. It will make people less nervous about calling the vet."

Both students highly recommend that visitor watch the demonstrations that highlight the abilities of the WCVM's equine clinical service.

"The people doing the talks are experts and they're really knowledgeable. The things they're doing are cool – not something you'd necessarily get to see anywhere else," says Russnak.

Besides the chance to work with horses and, veterinary students who participate in the annual Equine Expo are eligible to apply for a fourth-year equine externship award.

"Whether you're a ‘horsey' person or not, it's really a fun time," says Russnak.

Visit www.saskatchewanequineexpo.ca for more details about the event.
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