On Saturday, April 14, 2012, I took my 3 oldest (age 12, 9, and 7), and the baby, to Michigan State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine Open House called Vet-A-Visit. They had several demonstrations and activities for the kids to participate in. They even had two auditoriums where there were lectures, videos, faculty and student panels.
First we saw the Equine Treadmill Demonstration. The instructor spoke about why they use the treadmill. They use it mainly to check for airway problems on racehorses. Some of their problems can’t be detected until they are running. She showed the scope they use that has a sophisticated camera on the end of it. Then they brought out their horse “Reebok.” He loved being on the treadmill. They said he often paws at it to try to get it going. He went from a slow walk to a full blown run. The kids (and parents) thought that was really neat.
Next, we went 45 minutes early and waited for the Dressage Performance in their high-tech Equine Arena. We heard it would fill up fast, and it did. They had to turn people away 10 minutes before the show time. We learned that “Dressage”(pronounced like a French word…because it is the French word for ‘training’) doesn’t mean “dressing up your horse” but rather an Olympic sport that is almost like “dancing with your horse.” It is teaching your horse to follow subtle cues that you give them such as pressure from your feet on one side or the other or both. The horse that came out gave examples of different trots and even did a choreographed dance to music. I thought that was really cool. When they were done, the horse gave a bow, the rider dismounted and began walking away leading the horse. She walked with high-knees, then high straight-legs and the horse copied her. That got everybody laughing and wishing to see more.
While we were in the arena I did see 2 other “big” families attending, one with 9 kids, and one with 7. Although the seating was limited at all the demonstrations this was definitely a “big family” friendly event overall.
We ventured into another building and found mock surgeries where the kids could remove a tumor (an easter egg). The students who did this were very informative. They took their time with each kid to explain the surgery process. The kids got to cut open the site, reach in to find the tumor among water balloons and spaghetti noodles, then open the tumor to find if it was cancerous or not. Inside the “tumor” was a stretchy bracelet and a piece of candy. Then they sewed their patient back up and sent the tumor to pathology. There was another surgery room where they had dogs that the kids could pet and listen to their heartbeat with a stethoscope. There were microscopes they could look in that had a flea, ear mites, heartworm, and other “bad guys.”
Then we took a break for lunch in their cafeteria. I thought their prices were a bit high, but I could have brought our own lunch(…note to self for next year). Luckily, I saved money on drinks. Since I brought the stroller, I just filled the bottom with water bottles and I brought Crystalight Lemonade singles for the kids.
After lunch, we got in line to milk the cow. It was a really long wait for such a short experience. But the kids can at least say they have milked a cow. Then we went to the “petting zoo” where they got to see many different farm animals, stick their hand in a “live” cows stomach, and check the heartbeat of a llama.
Finally, we saw Zeke the Wonder Dog at the soccer field. He and his two buddies were very talented at Frisbee. I was a little disappointed though because they had a complete obstacle course set up and they didn’t use it as part of their demonstration. On our way out, we stopped at the reptile and wild animal exhibit where the boys wanted to stay to play with the snakes and lizards.
It was a great experience for all of us. There was a lot of walking, but I would definitely go back again next year. There were only a few activities that charged a fee $2 to $5 (i.e. the surgery), but most of the activities were free. Parking was also free and very close. There were actually too many displays and activities to see in one day. Yet, I think that was a good thing because it kept the crowds spread out. The kids were not bored and they all want to go to MSU now. Good job Spartan Vets!