Museum puts equines on display for hands-on lessons
LODI – Jillian Howard, 10, rides horses on dirt tracks and on fields, but not on pavement. That changed Saturday afternoon as the blonde girl climbed on a mocha-colored Quarter horse pony named Coco that trotted up and down Sacramento Street in Lodi.
Jillian was one of several children who rode the pony and received an education on the animals during the World of Wonders Science Museum’s “Equineology” event. Moments before climbing on Coco’s back, Jillian and her family took part in a brief lecture about horses, their biology and history. Already familiar with some of the information about equines from her past experiences, Jillian said riding the pony on the street was part of the day’s unique experiences.
“It felt smoother (on pavement) than it does riding on dirt,” she said. “It sometimes feels less stable on dirt because there are so many little holes.”
But during her trot down the street, Jillian realized ponies aren’t adjusted to city life. a freight train lumbered down the tracks behind the museum and startled the animal. The pony was reacting so poorly to the train that handler Chris Carey pulled Jillian from the animal’s back and calmed it.
Jillian’s sister, Madison, 7, teased and laughed at her older sibling about the chaos after her ride.
“No, it wasn’t funny,” Jillian said as her teeth chattered in the cold.
The ponies were on loan from all Seasons Carriage co., which partnered with the museum for the event. Company owner Deena Kirby educated the children about the mammals in a series of separate classes through the day. Each class outlined the basic equipment needed to care for an equine and the difference between breeds.
She reminded the children that ponies are as much work as they are fun and have special needs. The animals must be exercised, fed and cleaned up after, she said.
“We have made the pony domesticated; it depends on us,” she said. “Because of that, there is a lot of responsibility in owning one.”
The classes ended with the children applying nontoxic paint to CJ, a 10-year-old Welsh pony.
Jillian’s 5-year-old brother Dutch painted pastel streaks on the animal’s right side while Madison applied decorations to the pony’s hooves.
Their mother, Emily Howard, said she enjoyed the hands-on nature of the event and how it featured a message of responsibility.
“Even though she knows ponies aren’t all fun and games, (Jillian) still wants one,” she said.
Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at (209) 546-8279 or . Visit his blog at recordnet.com/crimeblog.
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