Equine Guelph teams up with War Horse for show and fundraiser

If it has hooves, whinnies, and behaves like a horse, trust Equine Guelph to become involved with it – even if the horse is a puppet involved in show business.

Equine Guelph formed a partnership with the Ed Mirvisch production of War Horse in Toronto. The British production is set to run until the end of June. Ticket purchases can contribute to the new Equine Guelph-Ontario Equestrian Federation War Horse Welfare Education Fund.

Using of life-size and life-like handspring puppets, War Horse tranSports the audience to WWI ? when horses were integral to progress. The stage adaptation examines the horse-human bond.

Recognizing the need for equine welfare awareness, Mirvish Productions partnered with Equine Guelph and will donate $10 to the Equine Guelph-OEF War Horse Welfare Education Fund for each War Horse ticket purchased by OEF members for performances between Feb. 10 and May 6.

And, as a special thanks, at the performance, OEF members will receive a free CD (one per order) of the music of War Horse. Call 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333 to order tickets and provide this special benefit code: WHFUND.

Equine Guelph?s communications and programs officer Susan Raymond said in an interview that there is more involved with the production, and there are actually three ways the show and Equine Guelph are working together.

As for the show itself, Raymond said it is already generating much interest even before it opened.

?I think it?s going to be very popular,? she said. ?It?s got a great book, and there?s a movie out at the same time. It?s going to be very big.?

The book was written by Michael Morpurgo, and adapted by Nick Stafford with the Handspring Puppet Company.

Raymond added, ?We were fortunate,? to tie the welfare fund to ticket sales to OEF members.

Equine Guelph is also hosting a special gala fundraising evening on March 8 for avid horse enthusiasts. OEF members and non members alike can be part of a gala evening at the Princess of Wales theatre in Toronto.

Those attending will have  premium seats in the orchestra section, a pre-show reception and then have the opportunity to meet the ?puppets? on a backstage tour after production.

There are a limited number of tickets and the cost is $200 each. Anyone wanting to take part should visit  http://uofg.convio.net/warhorse or call 1-888-266-3108 to order.

With over 16 online equine courses dedicated to horse owners and caregivers, Equine Guelph at the University of Guelph understands the need for horse welfare education.  In an industry where well-intentioned old wives tales are often passed down rather than scientific knowledge, the horse is often the victim of mistreatment. Education in horse welfare will result in the following benefits:  well-informed caregivers, healthier horses, lower vet bills and fewer unwanted horses.

The story takes place in 1912 at a village auction, where Albert?s father, Ted Narracott (a poor farmer who has had one too many beers that morning), decides to take on his brother and long-standing enemy, local bully Arthur Narracott. They set to bidding over a young hunter colt.

After having driven the price up to astronomical proportions, Arthur gives up the bidding and lets Ted buy the horse.

Over the next two years Albert and Joey, as the horse is named, grow to love and to develop a profound understanding of each other.

In 1914, war with Germany is declared. The local yeomanry set about recruiting and Ted, unknown to Albert, decides to sell Joey to the army. Major Nicholls, a local soldier, promises Albert that he will look after Joey when he goes to war: he gives him his solemn word that the horse will be safe. Albert reluctantly lets him go.

Nicholls is as good as his word, proving a loyal keeper. He introduces Joey to Topthorn, a thoroughbred and the finest horse in the yeomanry. The two horses come to find peace and security together, for a while. After Nicholls is killed in action the horses are captured by the Germans.

Meanwhile, back in Devon, the News of Nicholls? death has reached Albert. Convinced Joey will no longer be safe outside of his custody, Albert escapes from the farm and runs away to join the army and bring his beloved horse home safely.

The show is recommended for those age 10 and up.

The Princess of Wales Theatre is at 300 King Street West, Toronto.