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Horse symposium attracts horse lovers and scientists alike

By David Wiegand
On March 3, 2014

On March 1 and 2, UConn's Department of Animal Science hosted the 2014 Horse Symposium, attracting throngs of horse aficionados and agricultural scientists from around the state.

Dr. Jenifer Nadeau, Associate Professor and Equine Extension Specialist at UConn, organized the ins and outs of the symposium and she was pleased with the result. She stressed the education that went on both in the audience, and as participants in clinics, which are essentially classes in horsemanship. 

While she was happy with the turnout, Dr. Nadeau stated that, as a coordinator, she "always wants more people." She said she looks forward to seeing more faces next year, and says that "if more people knew about [the symposium], they would come" to the event, especially to see the spectacle of the miniature show on Sunday. "You don't even have to know anything about horses," she said, to gain valuable education and a weekend's entertainment.

Nadeau is already hard at work in securing the plans for next year's symposium; she said she has some exciting things in store, including a demonstration by a "horseback archer" and a clinic in which the participants will learn "how to drive draft horses." 

Saturday, the first day of the event, featured a performance by UConn's Morgan Drill Team, which has been run since its inception in 1987 by Coach Kathy Pelletier. Morgan horses are a breed treasured for their stamina, speed and versatility that rose to prominence in the late 1800's in the Northeast. Now, they are bred in stables across the country, including at UConn, which prizes its herd of 45 Morgans. 

Pelletier felt that the drill team's performance at the symposium went exceedingly well this year, and was very proud "of all those Morgans" that participated. She said she "had a lot of young horses we introduced to the team" this year, and they "took it in stride." She also lauded her human team members, some of whom had "only been in the saddle a year," but performed superbly. As for next year, she plans further collaboration with Dr. Nadeau. 

Saturday also featured a clinic with Dawn Bonin, a Coventry-based horseback trainer and proponent of "Natural Horsemanship," a method of communication and relation with horses that "complements the horse's personality and instincts," according to her website, Dawn's clinic, ran from 1 to 4 p.m., and provided beginner, intermediate and advanced riders with instructive guidance.

Sunday included miniature clinics with Clinton Jury and a freestyle performance by UConn's Dressage team. The equestrian weekend concluded with a women's polo match, a home game against Harvard University.

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