University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine (MUCVM)

Open House Breed Demonstrations and Instructional Rides

April 18, 2015 in Columbia, MO


Five horses, a dozen volunteers, several University staff members and students made equine magic on April 18th at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine Open house.  A FLOOD of parents and children joined them in the livestock arena.  Lucy Rangel, president of Gaitway Horse Association (GWHA, Inc.) and MHSA member, organized the kids and parents so that each child who wanted to ride a gaited horse had a lead line opportunity and a learning experience they will never forget.  When the ride was done, each child received a gaited horse themed coloring book and crayons while supplies lasted.

MU Vet School 2015

This was the third year for GWHA’s presentation of gaited horses at the University’s Open House Breed Demonstrations.  GWHA is a not-for-profit organization promoting the humane training and exhibition of gaited horses.  The first year, GWHA brought two Pleasure Tennessee Walking horses, just to test the waters. Last year, GWHA increased to two Walking horses, a Spotted Saddle Horse, and a Missouri Fox Trotter, and gave some impromptu rides in the parking lot. This year, GWHA brought a total of five horses, and formalized the instructional rides into part of the program. The demonstration was met with a barrage of unexpected enthusiasm. Our equine ambassadors behaved beautifully for the children and word spread quickly that if you headed to the livestock arena, not only could you PET a horse, you could actually RIDE one!

By now, the Facebook pages have been inundated with photos and video footage from the hour-and-a-half-long session. The volunteers are soaking their feet in Epsom salts, and the horses are relaxing in home pastures. GWHA volunteers included Darryl and Gina Vehige, and their horses, Redman and Moose; Anita Dunham, Cheyenne Dunham, and Cheyenne’s friend Ethan, with their horses Darlin’ and Peanuts; Glen and Joan Jungmeyer and Joan’s horse Cisco. Patti Potts, Ashley Carter, and little miss Shelby Carter, Jessica Gifford and her friend Kelsey, who helped with leading horses and walking alongside, handing out, retrieving and wiping down helmets, getting waivers signed, keeping a steady stream of riders in and out of the arena, and helping kids on and off the horses. A special Thank You to our wonderful gaited horses, who made us proud, keeping their cool in the middle of the fray, just as you would expect them to do, and Alyssa Davis, the MU Vet Student who invited us to return.


Counting how many coloring books we gave away, packages of crayons, and liability waiver forms were signed, we introduced a total of fifty-eight young and enthusiastic horse fans, along with their parents, to the joy of gaited horses. Who knows, but any one of these may one day become an advocate for sound horses, a senator who introduces legislation to protect them, or a USDA inspector who enforces the law? Maybe they will aspire to own or lease a horse of their own and keep the equine industry alive and growing.  Even if all we’ve done is given a child a happy memory, that’s enough.


Sue Webster for Lucy Rangel, Event Organizer

See you next year!