A horse is a horse, of course, but for those who attend the National Youth Horse Leaders Symposium, Feb. 2 to 4, in Colorado Springs, horses are much more.

They can be the key to learning that will last a lifetime, says Jonathan Vrabec, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agent for the 4-H program, in El Paso County. Vrabec's responsibilities include working with the county's 4-H horse program.

Leaders of all youth horse programs, as well as the general public, are invited to attend the three-day session, which will be held at the Doubletree Hotel, I-25 and Circle Drive. The program emphasizes a wide variety of equestrian topics and focuses on leadership issues that will help young people develop a lifetime interest in horses. Youth teen leaders and college students also are invited to attend.

With seminar topics as diverse as "How the Internet can help your horse," and "Special children--Special horses--Special needs" participants will find something for everyone at the symposium.

Sessions begin at 8 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 3, and continue throughout the day. At least 25 seminars are scheduled, with topics as basic as horse anatomy and responsible horse ownership and as specialized as learning to conduct horse day camps and equine liability for the horse professional.

Speakers will include Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agents and specialists and representatives from universities throughout the United States. Professional equestrians also are part of the program.

Performing at a 6 p.m. banquet, Saturday, is GaWaNi Pony Boy. 'Pony,' as he prefers to be called, is recognized as an accomplished author, speaker and horseman. Considered an authority on Native American horsemanship, he has become one of the world's most sought-after and respected equine speakers. The Saturday night event will be held at Colorado Spring's Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Museum of the American Cowboy.

As many as 500 participants from 27 states are expected to attend. The symposium involves 25 different equine associations, a dozen horse-related businesses and 24 universities.

Registration costs are $35 for youths, $65 for adults who are members of the American Youth Horse Council (AYHC) and $85 for other adults.

Registrations can be mailed to AYHC, 4093 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511.

For additional information, contact Vrabec, in Colorado Springs, at 710-636-8920.

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