Lessons in horse sense

Primary students at Glenwood Elementary School will be in for a treat next Friday morning, when the Langley Horse Federation launches its equine education program called ‘A Pony Comes to School,’ to celebrate Horse Week.

The star of the show will be the adorable, charming Mini Me, a Quarter horse pony that lives nearby on Haidee Landry’s family farm.

“We want to provide a fun, safe, interactive experience for the kids and to increase awareness of and interest in horses.

“There will be a short information session, an opportunity to pet the pony and a chance for the kids to ask questions,” said Sandra Verda-Zanatta, who heads the Langley Horse Federation’s education committee.

Sandra is a well-known local dressage coach who has coached several riders to the Paralympic level, including gold and silver medallist Lauren Barwick.  Her experience has given her a keen awareness of the therapeutic benefits of horses.

Sandra and a group of volunteers will demonstrate how horses react to the mood and body language of their handlers, among other things.

“We want to show them how sensitive and reactive horses are, and how they reflect the energy level of their handlers. It will be a chance for the kids to see how,  if they are noisy, the pony will get excited, and how, if they behave softly and quietly, the pony will soften and relax, too.  Horses are great teachers,” she said.

The Pony Comes to School event is part of a grassroots program planned by the Langley Horse Federation to generate interest in horses among young children, and to give them an opportunity to enjoy horses at a basic level.  The non-profit society is also looking at the possibility of organizing inter-collegiate competitions for local high school students.

“A lot of kids don’t ever get the chance to interact with horses, and ponies are easier to handle and less intimidating than a full-sized horse,” said Sandra.

Teachers interested in booking a Pony Comes to School event for their school can contact Sandra by e-mail at

Anne Patterson is a Langley writer and horse owner. Contact her at

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