SCHOOL children saw metal being forged by a blacksmith and talked with horse carers at Mulgoa's Fernhill Estate this week.
Pupils from Mulgoa, Kingswood, Kingswood Park, Kingswood South and Cambridge Gardens public schools were invited to the Estate equestrian centre which on October 2 hosts the Melbourne Cup on its pre-Cup Day tour around Australia.
Equine teachers and students from the Richmond College of TAFE showed horses to the children and let them escort two draught horses around a paddock.
"What better thing could you do than give the children this chance?" Richmond College teacher Glen Denholm said.
He said draught horses were not used as work animals as much as they used to be.
"But they're just as capable of pulling their weight, which is about 900 kilos," Mr Denholm said.
"These horses are as effective as any motor car but today, unfortunately, insurance and maintenance beat that."
Richmond College blacksmith/farrier teacher Armando Djury demonstrated the way smiths have fashioned horse shoes for centuries.
"First we have to measure the horse's foot, cut that much steel and shape it into a horse shoe," Mr Djury said.
He explained that the horse's hoof was like a large fingernail, so hammering the shoe in, provided it was done carefully, did not hurt or injure the animal.
Fernhill Estate project manager Angela Johnson said opening the estate to community events would provide big opportunities.
"We want to do concerts and cross-country events, such as Tough Mudder," Ms Johnson said.
"Today, it's great to see the kids here and who knows what opportunities they might see in the equine industry."
Richmond College lecturer Emma Mayfield-Smith, who teaches track work and horse care, said the equine industry was the fifth-largest in Australia.
She said the visit to Fernhill was useful for students wanting to work in the industry.