Mildura Harness Racing Club last week began an education program aimed at school children aged of 10 to 12.
The program is part of the club’s strategy put in place in May 2017 to develop the future careers of people who will be industry participants in years to come.
A club review recognised its industry participants, who include committee members and members, trainers, owners and drivers, were getting older and there was concern about who would run the trots in 10 years time.
The strategy began with changing the constitution to have a members class for juniors to get them involved early and the club now boasts almost 70 junior members.
The second stage of that strategy was to develop a program for juniors that could be run through a school to allow younger people to learn all about the careers and the sport that we operate.
This strategy came to fruition on Monday when Ranfurly Primary School and teacher Mrs Chelsea Spratt began an eight-week education program as part of their curriculum titled 'Hot to Trot'.
The program was developed by Mildura club committeeman Ian Campbell and covered nearly all of the careers involved in the sport such as race callers, stewards, trainers, drivers, vets and equine dentists, media personnel, farriers and produce store owners.
The program’s main focus though is about the horses and their health and the children will get visits from vets and equine dentists. They will explore the physiology of the horse and learn correct horse terminology. They will visit the track to view firsthand what a farrier does and equine dentists will show them how important horse teeth care is to the overall health of the horse.
They will also have an excursion to a trots meeting, where they will see first-hand the roles people undertake. On the day they will be present in the race callers box during a live race. They will see what the race judge does, sit in a stewards’ room during an inquiry and will visit the vet in the swabbing box to name a few activities planned.
Back in the classroom they will have access to the harness that a horse wears and participate in an untangling exercise in teams. Another of the students activities will be to design their own silk colours that an owner would normally undertake. They will also be involved in media work by writing an article on some part of the industry, which will be published in the Sunraysia Daily, and several students will help host the weekly Trots Talk radio program on HOT FM on Saturday mornings.
Class visits from trainers and owners will also take place as well as a junior pony trots driver.
The program, once perfected, will be offered to other schools in the area.
Mildura Harness Racing Club and its members are extremely grateful to Ranfurly School principal Dennis Mitchell and vice-principal Mark Rogerson for their support of the program, as well as teacher Mrs Chelsea Spratt and our committeeman Ian Campbell for their tireless work in putting the program together.