A small crowd gathered to take a peek at Ava’s ultrasound.
Almost a week before giving birth, the chestnut pony took part in a medical demonstration at Saturday’s annual UF College of Veterinary Medicine open house.
The event, hosted by the college’s 2015 graduating class, included guided tours of the college grounds, free ice cream and a teddy bear clinic where kids could patch up their furry friends.
Natalie Isaza, UF College of Veterinary Medicine clinical associate professor, said the event was an avenue for the community to get a behind-the-scenes view of the school.
“There is a lot of misconception about what goes on at the vet school,” she said. “People think we do animal research. We are all about helping animals.”
The horses were a popular attraction at the open house.
Families squeezed together and held their young ones atop their shoulders to catch a glimpse of the horse treadmill demo.
But one tiny group of horses captured all the attention.
Sweetheart, Hamlet and Magic, from the Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses nonprofit, took part in the event for the first time.
Parents lined up to take pictures with Sweetheart cuddling up to their children.
Hamlet and Magic were chosen as 2014 Breyer model horses, making them this year’s inspiration for the company’s plastic toy horses.
Debbie Garcia-Bengochea, co-founder of Gentle Carousel, said many people were not aware that the nonprofit is based in Gainesville.
“We would like to do more with the university,” she said.
Larissa Menke, a 21-year-old UF marine sciences senior, said the event was a good way for the college to showcase its programs.
“It shows people that it’s not a scary place to bring their animals,” she said. “They can bring their doggies here, and they will take care of them.”
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 4/14/2014 under the headline "Therapy horses’ first visit highlight of vet school open house"]
Hamlet, left, and Magic have been honored as Breyer model horses for 2014. Both horses work at UF Health Shands Rehab Hospital. They appeared at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine Open House on Saturday.